For much of my formative years, the centerpiece in my family’s home was a wonderfully ornate pump organ that had belonged to my mother’s grandmother. Having been professionally refinished, it was a fabulous piece of furniture though at times it worked while other times not so well. It served as the safekeep for everything from photographs to all our birth certificates. It held two oil lamps and always, a pair of binoculars hung over the top corner finial.
As time passed, the quality of sound lessoned until one day my brother and I dug into the working end of the instrument. We repaired a hole in the bellows made by mice and even sacrificed our scout belts to replace the linkage connecting the peddles and bellows. It worked, but not perfectly so.
Even as a young kid, I was always amazed by the craftsmanship; the gingerbread and acanthus leaf scroll work. Though my mom always spoke in the most loving way about her grandmother, all I knew of her was this piece of furniture and hence I envisioned some stuffy old house immaculately furnished. But, I was wrong.
Enjoying the many trips “to the country” and even more so, the times I get to spend with my mom; it’s always good to see her fellowship with those of her own generation, those who she knew in childhood and those whose experience is the same as hers.
On a most recent trip, we visited the granddaughter of my mother’s uncle Rush Love. From the newspaper article, you’ll remember that Rush is the son of James Daniel and Florence Geretta Sossamon Love. To give you a little background, a trip to Stanfield has never been made without my mom pointing out uncle Rush’s barn and telling of his granary. Anyhow, on this trip I not only learned what Uncle Rush looked like, I was also given a photo of grandpa Dan and granny Florence with their organ. It’s a fabulous photo and one I’ll always cherish. These were good and simple folks and like in our house, the organ was obviously a centerpiece.
On other trips to the country we visited my mom’s uncle Coyle Love, another son of grandpa Dan and Granny Florence. I remember the house on the lower side of the road and of my mom showing me her grandpa Dan’s home place just up the road. On one trip I was introduced to Coyle’s granddaughter JoAnne who graciously shared the following testimony of times spent with her Granny Florence.
GRANDMA FLORENCE – MEMORIES
My Grandma Florence lived on Coyle Road in Stanfield, about 2 blocks from our home place on the same road. I can recall only a few, but precious memories about Grandma Florence. When I was very young, before school age, I would get to stay with Grandma Florence for short periods of time, never overnight.
During those short visits when it was warm outside, Grandma Florence would get the metal trays out of the ice box. She would mix up some special ingredients to make vanilla ice cream. She would pour the mixture in the metal ice trays, and put them in the old ice box. We then would go to the front part of the little house, and play the organ, while waiting patiently, for the ice cream to freeze. When I say play the organ, Grandma would allow me to pull a knob or two out, and peck at the keys to make music, while she pressed the pedals below. You see I was much too short do both. I would sit on her lap while we did this, and sing Jesus Loves Me. Then after we’d finish playing the organ, we would go back to the ice box. She would take those metal trays and get one ice cream block for each of us. She put each piece in a little saucer, along with a spoon.
We would go to the back steps on the back of the house, and have a seat. While we picked away at that ice cream cube, we would talk, and laugh. It seemed like a long time, because my little cube would usually melt, and I would end up turning the saucer up to drink mine. I do not remember what we talked about, but I remember her laughing a lot at what I would say. When she laughed, her little belly would shake like a small bowl of jelly.
I ask her one time, why her belly shook so when she laughed? She only laughed harder than ever, and said I would know one day. Well the day has arrived, and I do know and understand the answer to that question!
Some days while we were sitting on the back steps, she would tell me to close my little eyes, and then she would tell me to open them. She would step away from me, and then I would hear a jingle, and she would walk back to me, and tell me I could open my eyes. She would have enough change in her hand to buy a can of snuff, which she enjoyed dipping. When my Mom came to pick me up, Grandma would ask her to pick her up a can of snuff at the grocery store. When Grandma Florence passed away, I was still too young to understand. My Dad held me up so I could touch her as she lay in the casket. She was so cold. I did not like the way she felt. I kept speaking to her, not understanding why she would not speak back to me. I remember crying, but Grandma Florence still would not offer to let me play her organ, or make me some block ice cream, so we could talk, laugh, and I could watch her little belly shake.
It is strange how we may be very young, yet keep such vivid memories of the special people in our lives that meant a lot to us. I still love to eat ice cream, talk, laugh, and when I feel my belly shake a little, I just smile and think of Grandma Florence. Both of us, sitting on the back steps of her little house in Stanfield. She was a very sweet, kind, and good lady to a very young little girl. She made a big impression on me, as to how to treat others, and to create memories to live by. Joanne Love Yow
Just a boy, James Daniel Love was raised in his father William James Love’s house located north of Love’s Chapel on the west side of Love’s Chapel Rd. I’ve been told a certain old tree in a field behind the present-day houses lining the road was the spot where the old home place once stood. And further back in time, I’ve heard this was also been the home of William James Love’s father, Jonah Askew Love. I’ve always wondered about that.
Dan, as folks would call him, married and left a legacy I’m proud to be a part. He and Florence Sossamon were blessed with a good start in life. However, the years following the stock market crash paid a toll on everyone, and this couple was not immune.
During the past 20 years, our country has passed through a similar time though by no means of the same degree of severity. Called the “New Norm,” growth has been slow or nonexistent. We’ve become creative with money making schemes and life’s just a bit different. But, if times really got bad, I’d reflect on, and find strength in, the lives of people like my great grandparents. I’m sure they worked hard to make ends meet. And, I can imagine the couple with their pioneer spirit. I’m sure a garden was kept and it was a way of life where daily sustenance grew from much more than a paycheck. You didn’t need to bring home the bacon because it was safe in its pen outback.
In closing, I’d like to share a few remaining photos that I hope you’ll enjoy. Also, please note that I’m looking for and would love to talk to anyone who’d like to share the stories of their members of this greater LOVE family.