Early Memories

So, apparently last week I didn’t make any blog posts at all. That violates just about everything I’ve read about maintaining a successful blog. Sue me.

I guess I really should spend some time deciding what I want to accomplish with this blog. I don’t particularly have any goals to monetize it. I have no thought of making it into some kind of money making enterprise.

Nor do I want it to become  a place where I just post random facts, or random rants. I do want it to have some kind of structure.

Mostly, I think, I want this blog to be a way to help me examine different aspects of my life, and to help me build some kind of personal discipline. I have felt for years that I lack personal discipline, and I’m trying to build that quality into my personality.

Monday is, according to plan, the day I make an autobiographical post. The last post in that series described my Grandmother Butterfield. In a logical world I would next describe my one of my Fletcher Grandparents, but I’m just not ready to do that. I need to think very carefully before I tackle that kind description. It would be huge understatement to say I have conflicting feelings about them.

So, I’m going to skip around a bit. It’s my autobiography, I can do what I want. Deal with it. Tonight I think I’m going to talk about my earliest memories.

The very first thing I remember is just a fragment. I couldn’t have been more than three or four, but I remember being on a paddle boat, the kind you can rent at resorts, on Lake Okaboji.  I don’t remember anything else about the trip. I just remember being on that paddle boat with Mom and Dad. I don’t remember getting on it and I don’t remember getting off of it, I just remember sitting between them as we paddled across the lake.

And now that I think about it, I realize I must have been even younger than I thought, because my next memory is of Christmas at the house in Platssmouth Nebraska. I know I was three when we lived there. And I don’t actually remember Christmas, but I remember Christmas Eve. Specifically, I remember standing at the top of the stairs, and yelling down to Mom and Dad, to see what they were doing. I know now, that what they were doing was assembling Christmas presents. Mom loves to tell that story.

My next memories are of the apartment in Bellevue Nebraska. I was four when we moved in there, and from that point on my memory is more or less continual. I remember swimming in the pool at the complex. Remember learning to ride a bicyle. I emphatically don’t remember learning how to stop the bike: According to my parents the only way I could stop the bike was by riding it into a bush. No, I don’t remember that at all. I do, however remember playing in the creek bed near the apartment.

I remember the day my sister was born. I wasn’t really sure what was going on, I just knew I got taken to my babysitter’s place, and that Dad seemed to be really excited about something. I do remember the day we brought her back to the apartment.

October 4, 2010: Thinking about Grandma B

I do plan to keep going with this autobiography, even though I realize that I am probably the only person that is even vaguely interested in the subject. I don’t expect to to be finished any time soon, and I am quite sure that the story will probably take some interesting detours, side trips , and possibly, perform some loop-de-loops from time time to time. The fact is, as I examine some different part of my life, my history, my story, I’m not sure what I’ll discover. I am just sure that it will be an interesting endeavor.

I’m also sure, that an amazing cast of characters will appear in the story. You see, I’ve been blessed, my life has been enriched beyond my current ability to describe by some fascinating people.  Family, friends, teachers, bosses, I’ve known, and still do know some wonderful people. I will try to do them justice.

Today I want to tell you about  my Mom’s mom; Grandma Butterfield, or, as we usually called her, Grandma B.  Mable Butterfield was born in 1914 in Venus Nebraska. She never lived anywhere but Knox and Holt Counties. I’m fairly sure that she knew most of the people that lived in O’Neill; if she didn’t know the specific person she almost certainly knew their family, and probably the family history going back at least 3 generations.

I never knew her husband, Elden; he died when Mom was twenty. What I do know is that Grandma was 48 or 49 when Elden died. She had been working at the O’Neil Bakery for a number of years, and when she finally quit the job in the bakery she had worked there a total of 30 years. When she quit the job at the Bakery she got a job at a combination Hobby Store/Sporting Goods Store (the kind of store you can ONLY find in small, rural towns). She worked there for another fifteen years. Grandma was NOT afraid of hard work. In fact, I’m fairly sure that she could out work anyone until her body just simply got to frail, and that would have been in her early nineties.

Grandma B was/is a hard woman to describe easily. She would never accept any kind of charity; not even help from her kids. She could be rather stubborn (kind of like the way a mountain can be kind of tall),and she could be rather judgmental. She was extremely independent; she lived on her own, in her own home, until well into her late eighties. When her physical condition and dementia got to the point where she could no longer live on her own, and she had to go into a nursing home the closest one Mom and her sisters could find was in Atkinson, which was 20 miles from O’Neill. Grandma wanted to go home, and she literally walked out the door and started walking toward O’Neil. The facility staff found her walking about two miles from the home. Determined? YEah, you could say that.

However, she was also a woman that never once forgot the birthday of any of her kids, her kid’s husbands or wives, or any of her five grandchildren. She didn’t have any use for people that were not at least willing to work, but she was a loyal friend, and generous when it came to taking care of people that couldn’t work for health reasons.

While she could be rather stern, and harsh, she also had an amazing sense of humor; she was a person that could laugh easily, and could make other’s laugh  as well. She loved to play cards, and she played to win, but more importantly, she played to have fun.

She lived the majority of her life, in Holt County, and while she never had a great deal of money, she was able to travel literally all over the country. In addition to her traveling, she was an amazing craft person. For years we would decorate our Christmas tree each year with ornaments that Granny B had made. I think CormacSis has most of those ornaments now.

Grandma died in September of 2009. She was 95 years old, and she was a truly amazing woman. The world will not see her like again. This description has not done her justice, and I’m sorry about that. I wish you all could have known her. I wish I had known her better.

Autobiography 2: O’Neil

In my last post I described how my parents came to be in O’Neil Nebraska. I realized later that I had not described the town itself.  I never actually lived there myself, but I did spend a lot of time there. My family make the drive from Omaha two or three times a year to visit Grandma B (I’ll attempt to describe her in the next post), and while we were there we would not only visit Grandma, but also visit a lot of my parents friends and relatives from their time in O’Neil.

I’ll start with the boring facts of the town. O’Neil Nebraska, the county seat of Holt County, is a town of  of 3700 people according to the 2000 Census. Those people make up just over 970 families. This is a SMALL town. I mean there are apartment complexes here Memphis that have larger populations.

O’Neil was founded by John O’Neil in the late 1870’s, and is the official Irish Capital of Nebraska. To this day they still have a large Saint Patrick’s Day parade and celebration. The town is located near the eastern limits of what could be described as “North Central Nebraska”‘; roughly four hours drive from Omaha.

This is a town dedicated to agriculture, all the businesses in town are dependent, either directly or indirectly, on the agricultural economy.  It is a small, small town, geographically. It is possible, literally to walk from one end of it to the other in a short period of time. Most of the businesses are located on one main street. There is a public highschool and a Catholic high school .  Several small protestant churches, a large Catholic church, a  small hospital,  and the County Court House, and a couple of pubs, and that’s about it.

The most important thing to remember when describing O’Neil is that it is a small town of the High Prairie.  It is located in the Elkhorn River Basin and the town is flat. Very flat. To the west the Sandhills start, but those are long, low, rolling hills. It is possible to see a LONG way down the road. Unlike the the South East, the land is not naturally forested. The only natural tree growth you will find in that part of the country is along streams and rivers.  It is pretty country, but very hard to describe. I’ve been in the south for …..well a lot longer than I would have believed possible, and after all these years I’m still amazed by how claustrophobic I find the land to be. The heavily forested land and frequent hills  of Mississippi, Tennesee , Alabama and Arkansas bring the horizon in way to close. To close for me, anyway. I like to be able to see the sky.

Next time I’ll attempt to describe Grandma Butterfield. What an amazing woman.

Autobiography 1; September 23, 2010

One of the ideas I’ve been thinking about for a while is using this blog to write an autobiography; a way to understand who and what I am by examining where I came from and who I was.  I don’t know if it will be of interest to anyone but me, but I figure, what the hell. I have to write about something, and I am the subject I know best.

Now, this will be MY story. Other people will be described, obviously, but they will be described through my perceptions, and memories. I’ll will be as honest as possible, and I’ll try to be as accurate as possible, but please remember that everything I relate is being shaded by my own point of view.

So, with that in mind, let’s get this story started….

Many years ago, more than I care to remember, when I first started a blog on Live journal I had to enter a description when setting up the profile, and I came up with  this, “I am a Nebraskan refugee currrently living in Memphis. I’m an active member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, an avid reader, and I appreciate good music, good friends, and good conversation. I do not suffer fools gladly, and do not like those that let others do their thinking for them. The most profound bit of philosophy I have ever heard is this: “If you can make another laugh, you have made the world a better place”. Seven years later, I still think that is a good description. I mention it here because of the first five words, “I am a Nebraskan refugee”.

You see, my family, my people, are not from the South. My people are the people of the Great Prairie of Western Nebraska, and the cornfields of Iowa and Illinois. That’s where the story starts. Specifically, it starts in O’Neil Nebraska, and it starts with my parents.

CormacMom was born in Holt County Nebraska on May 9, 1944.   A t the time  Grandpa and Grandma Butterfield were farmer’s and the family lived approximately 30 miles from O’Neil, which is the largest town in Holt County. When Mom was five or six, to be honest I’m not quite sure how old she was, Grandpa lost the farm and the family moved into O’Neil. Grandpa got a job as  truck driver, hauling gravel for the county, and Grandma (who to this day is one of the most impressive people I’ve ever had the honor to know) took care of the four kids.

CormacDad was born in Havana Illinois, and I quite frankly have no idea what county it’s in. Grandpa Fletcher was a farmer that raised turkeys. Grandpa Fletcher didn’t own his land; he was more a “farm manager”. He  and his family lived on the farm and ran it, made all the decisions, etc, but the farm was owned by someone else. When Dad was 16 his father took a job a similar job for Tri -State farms, and moved to O’Neil.

The stage was now set.