Monday, January 6, 2014

Family Ties - Grandma Slaughter

Mandy Thomas was born on April 10, 1916.  Her parents, James & Dora were both 31 at the time and lived in Westville, Florida (Holmes County).  Her father was a full blooded Mohawk Indian and her mother a full blooded Cherokee Indian (usual for tribes to mix).  They already had 4 children by the time Mandy came along:
  • Nancy (aka: Nance), born in 1910
  • Roxie (aka: Rocks), born in 1911
  • Bernard (aka: Barney), born in 1912
  • Rosa Belle (aka: Belle), born in 1913

They later would have 4 more after Mandy
  • Lodusky (aka: Duck), born 1918
  • Hosea (aka: Hosie), born 1920
  • Harmon, born 1921
  • Louis (pronounce Louie), born 1924

So Mandy was smack dab in the middle of the 9 children.

I haven't been able to find exactly what year, but she married but I think it was about 1932, when she was 16 (note to self, ask Aunt Betty).  She married William Clifton Slaughter, otherwise known as Cliff.
 Cliff and Mandy Slaughter

In 1934, Mandy had her first child, my dad, William Thomas Slaughter.  She went on to have three more children (my aunts and uncle)
  • Voncile, 1936
  • Betty, 1938
  • Frank, 1942

Her husband, my grandpa, died in 1955 and I hear different stories as to the cause.  He was only 45, leaving her a widow at age 39.  She never married again.

 Son Frank, Mandy, daughter Betty

My memories of Grandma Slaughter:
Well...I really don't have a lot of memories about her.  I wish I knew more about her but my grandma was not a woman of many words.  You see, she was not what you would call the best mother in the world.  My dad has told me many stories about some of the abuse he took from her and his dad.  His father, and many uncles, were heavy drinkers and I think she may have been too in her early days but I never saw this side of her as she never drank by the time we came along.

Story 1 -- told to me by my dad
When my dad was about 14 or 15, he got a job driving a log truck.  He saved and saved and got enough to buy himself a couple of pair of "dungarees"  as he called it (blue jeans for me and you).  He filled out the order in the Sears & Roebuck catalog, put his money in the envelope and mailed it off before going to school one morning.

After a couple of weeks, he would check when he got home for his package.  The package didn't come, but one day he came home to find his oldest sister playing with a doll.  He discovered it came from Sears (I think he found the box in the trash pile).  They lived in the country - you piled up your trash in the yard and burned it when you had enough to do so.  When he asked his mother about it, she said "Well son, I guess they messed up the order and sent a doll instead of your dungarees" and so I gave it to your sister.  He didn't understand how they could do this and wasn't educated enough or old enough to know you could return something if you got the wrong order.  Later, he found out from one of his uncles that she had gone to the mailbox after he left for school that day and changed the order form - she ordered a doll and marked out the jeans.  She wanted her daughter to have a doll and didn't think he needed jeans since he had a pair already.  He said he cried when he found out but what could he do, it was his mom and he had no more money.

Story 2 -- also told to me by my dad
When my dad was in the Army, he would send home a couple of dollars every week (back in 1952, monthly salary was about $85 a month so it wasn't like he was rich).  Even though he sent money home, it wasn't enough I suppose.  She contacted the powers that be and told them that his family was starving and he wouldn't help them.  They started taking out 1/2 of his check and sending it to his mother.  Back then, they didn't need proof, they just did what they thought was "right" and they thought he should give his family half of his money.

There are other stories too but as you can see, they are along the same lines.  So needless to say, we didn't visit her a lot but we did visit.  My dad tried to be a good son, even though he didn't always get the best treatment.  He would do repairs for her and give her money when she needed it.

 Mandy with some of her grandchildren (my cousins Gary, Glenda, Sharon, Sammy and Sylvia)

Personal Memories
She was always nice to me - she'd hug me when she saw me but she wasn't all smiles and all - like grandmothers of today.  I don't really think that is her fault - I think her generation and her family just didn't show emotion much.  I remember arriving a few times while her "stories" were on TV - Her stories were As the World Turns, Guiding Light, Edge of Night.  If they were on, she'd wouldn't turn off the TV, she'd keep watching and once in a while glance our way and say a few things.

Once they were off, or if she wasn't watching TV when we arrived, she would offer to make us a banana sandwich or offer us some tea.  I never remember her cooking at all.  I am sure she probably did but she never cooked when we were there.

I remember asking her to blow up a balloon for me once and she said she couldn't because of her false teeth.  I didn't even know what that was at the time.  Her old house, which was the one my dad grew up in didn't have a bathroom - she had an outhouse.  We didn't stay too long for that reason too.  But when I was a teen, the old house was finally torn down and she got a nice new trailer and put it on the lot - I think my dad and uncle may have bought the trailer but I am not sure.

I loved the old house, I wish I had some pictures of it but of course as a kid, it never occurred to make to take photos and people just didn't take that many pictures in the 60s and 70s (film was expensive and developing even more expensive).  I have good memories of gathering there and playing with my cousins and hunting Easter eggs but I don't remember grandma being a big part of the festivities.  While I was a little sad to see the old house go, I was glad at the same time, when she got the trailer, because then she had a bathroom and heat and air.  It was a big improvement.  One more thing I remember about the house, besides the big porch and porch swing was that she had a horseshoe over the door, for luck.  I wish I had that horseshoe.  I wonder what happened to it?  It probably got thrown away when the house was destroyed.

All in all, she wasn't a bad grandmother - she didn't really show love or affection but she wasn't mean to us and she never fussed at us kids when we were running around on the porch or in the yard.  I am sure that she loved all her kids and loved us too, in the way she knew how.

She had a massive stroke in her early to mid 60s I believe. Later she had another one and this one left her in a coma.  My dear Aunt Betty took care of her after that - she stayed at home and my cousin, a nurse would see that my grandmother had her medical needs met and my aunt took good care of her until she passed away on December 2, 1993 at the age of 77.

My father had a really hard time when she passed away, it was the first time I ever saw him cry.  He was very upset.  Even though she hadn't always been good to him, he must have had some good memories of her.  She was his mom, he loved her.

She was part of my dad, she is part of me and part of her live on still through her 11 grandchildren, 6 great grandchildren (if I counted right) and I don't even know how many great-great grand-children.  Your legacy lives Mandy Thomas Slaughter. 

 Mandy with family dog

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1 comment:

  1. Wow! You have done your research! I think that is so cool that you have found all this information. I enjoyed your stories and memories.
    I can't wait to read more.