Friday, December 24, 2010
I was born on July 5, 1926, in Chicago, Illinois. When I was still small I took convulsions every time I had a fever. Once when my mother was carrying me upstairs to bed I stiffened out right in the middle of the stairway. My mother could neither go forward or backward, so she tilted me up to a standing position and got me back downstairs. I had measles, chicken pox, and hives. When I had the hives, my mother and the doctor were worried about me because they thought the hives might get into my throat and choke me. But I fooled them. I got better. After I'd had those diseases and didn't run a temperature anymore, I stopped having convulsions. The doctor said I'd grow out of them, and I did.
From what has been said I must have been a rather noisy child. I was what you might call "The Problem Child." To top it off I was stubborn. My cousin called me a noisy brat. Now she has a baby that's noisier than I ever was, and my mother feels like going over to her house and calling it a noisy brat.
When I was six years old, I was giving out handbills one day on the Avenue. My brother was too, and I insisted on standing in the same doorways as he did. Finally he got mad and went a couple of doorways down. My father was near so I felt quite safe. I had given out practically all my handbills when I decided I wanted to have a look at my father and brother. I looked all over for them and couldn't find (sic). Well, all my sense of security left me. I just opened my mouth and howled. All the women who were passing stopped to see what was the matter. I wouldn't talk. I just howled. Finally the policeman came over and asked me what was wrong. Well, that was different. I told him. He took me down to the police station. They asked me my name and address. They called in a police car, and I rode home in style in it. When I reached home my mother and father hadn't come in yet so I stayed with the people next door. The woman made me angry because she laughed at me for getting lost and coming home in a police car. When my mother and father came home, I was sitting on our back porch. It seems my father forgot all about me and walked off without me.
At the age of five, I started school. I remember that I was very peaceful while my mother was there, but that was while my mother was there. When I discovered she was gone, I threw a tantrum. If I ever got stubborn and sulky, I wouldn't do anything I was told to do. Once all the children were playing a game. We were supposed to stand around in a circle and one child would be in the center. He bounced the ball and whoever the ball went to that person was supposed to go in the middle. Well, I didn't want to play the game, so when the ball came to me I refused to go in the middle. The teacher thought maybe I was sick so she asked if I was. Right away I got the idea that I was sick. I said yes I was sick. I was sent into the lunchroom to lie down on the daybed. I didn't lie down very long. The cook was making the lunch and I could smell it, on top of it I was hungry. I went into the kitchen to see what there was to eat. Five minutes later I was contentedly munching a banana.
When I was seven years old, I went to the hospital for the first time in my life. I made sure that I stayed there for one day only. I had my tonsils taken out. I got an awful scare that day. When the nurses were wheeling me out of the room on the table, a nurse came in. She had a pair of scissors in her hand. She grabbed hold of my nose, ordered me to open my mouth, and prepared to put the scissors down my throat. The end was at hand; I was sure of it. I gathered myself together and made up my mind that I would not scream, pain or no pain. I was in earnest. I opened my mouth and closed my eyes. You can imagine the feeling that went through me when I heard the nurses laughing. It was an awful letdown. In fact, I felt as thought I had been cheated. There I was, prepared to be brave and what happens? I get laughed at.
When it came to the real McCoy, I didn't pretend. I screamed my lungs out. I tried to break the straps that held me down to the table, but the doctors and nurses didn't play fair. They clapped the ether over my face, and soon I was dead to the world. I was still fighting when they untied the straps. I was unconscious, but swinging my fists around very well. I socked the nurse in the stomach and nearly hit my mother on the chin. When I came to , I wouldn't let my mother out of my sight, in fact, I still don't know how she got home for supper. Anyhow, I went home that night.
When I was eight years old, I was hit by a car. Two people proclaimed me dead. My cousin, who is younger than I, and my girl friend. I was taken to the doctor's office and nearly raised the dead with my yells. I had a slight concussion, both my eyes were swelled up and were black and blue, and my knees, ankles, elbows, and face, were cut and bleeding. It took me about two or three weeks to recuperate.
Nothing much happened to me after that accept(sic) the time when I got a deep gash in my knee. The girls and boys on our block had a fued(sic) with the girls and boys on the next block. Naturally I was a ring leader. I lead our gang down the alley to meet the foe. The conquering heroine, that was me. I soon had my cockiness knocked out of me. The opposing army came thundering down on us and in an effort to get out of their way, I slipped in the gravel and fell on the jagged edge of a broken milk bottle. The battle ended in a deluge of rain. My tears. Everybody had to help me home. I still carry the scar of that heroic battle.
Friday, December 17, 2010
My mother was born in Airdrie, Lanarkshire, Scotland, in 1899. When she was nine months old the family moved to Glasgow. She lived there until she came to America in 1921.
When she was fourteen she graduated from grammar school. her brother wanted her to go to high school and learn to be a teacher, but she didn't want to. She wanted to go to work. The first day she went looking for a job she took her lunch, being quite confident that she'd get a job. She got a job at the place where her sister worked. After she'd been working a week she went to the boss and asked for a raise, and she got it. Her sister was boiling mad because my mother had been working there for only a week and already earned more that she did. My m other quit that job after a while and got another one.
During the World War she got a job as (a) street car conductor. One night it was so foggy that she was forced to stop the street car. When the fog cleared she found that she had stopped the car a few inches behind a truck.
Once when she was still in school she cut her foot and, since she went barefoot, she always got the cut dirty. One day her mother put a poultice on it, tied her to the bed post, and went out. There was a wedding down the street that she wanted to see so her older brother, Jim, crawled in the window, untied her, and they both crawled out again. Before she was halfway down the block the poultice was off and her foot was black. When her mother came home, my mother was still tied to the bed post, but she couldn't for the life of her say how her foot had gotten so dirty and the poultice just stuck on top.
There was another time when my mother and some of her girl friends were locked in the school yard. While climbing over the fence my mother got her pants caught and ripped them. When she got home, she slid them into the clothes hamper so her mother wouldn't see them. It didn't occur to her that her mother would see them when they were washed.
My mother has two sisters. Both are married and have families. She also had two brothers, Jim and George, but Jim was killed in the war and George was thrown by a bull and he died a year later. He and his boy friends were playing marbles. A woman was taking her bull to the home pasture and it started after the boys. The other boys ran but my uncle stopped to pick up his marbles, and the bull caught him and threw him into the air twice. He was never well after that.
In 1921 she came to America to live. She met my father at her cousin's house, and in 1922 she was married to him. My sister was born in 1923, my brother in 1924, and I was born in 1926. For the last few years my mother has been under a doctor's care, but her health is almost perfect now.
My Father, John C. Watt, was born in Kilwinning, Scotland, on July 12, 1880. He went to school there, and in his youth he was very athletic. He played football; soccer, and entered into many bicycle races. While playing soccer, he had his knee knocked out of joint, and he hasn't been able to play much soccer since. He still carries the scars on his body from bicycle racing.
My father was a shoemaker by trade, and he owned a shoe store and a fruit and vegetable store. In the year 1908 he came to America and got a job in Pullman Shope(sic). He has worked there ever since. He is now the president of the Pullman Twenty-years Service Club, and he, also, runs the shoe stores down at Pullman.
My Brother and Sister
My sister is the oldest of us three children. She was born on October 6, 1923. She went to Kohn Grammar School until she was about eleven years old, than(sic), she transferred to the Van Vilissengen Grammar School. She graduated from there in 1938 and went to Fenger High School. She graduated from Fenger in 1942, and she is now working at the First National Bank.
My brother is next to the oldest. He was born on September 18, 1924. He graduated from Kohn Grammar School in 1938 and then went to Pullman Tech. He graduated from Pullman in 1938 and went to work for the Goodman Manufacturing Company. He worked for Goodman until January 16, 1943. On January 23, 1943, he took the train to San Diego, California and a life with the United States Marines. He is now stationed in Jacksonville, Florida. We haven't seen him since he left. I am always proud to say I have a brother in the Marines.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
This is the latest I have ever been with your newsletter. Life seems to have gotten caught in a whirlwind of activity and between the holidays and your papa being out of town for days on end, this is the soonest chance I've had to get you caught up on the last month.
Crawling, crawling, and more crawling! You haven't quite mastered the coordination but the skills are there. Sometimes you look a bit like a drunk, other times your back end seems to be moving too quickly for your front end, and then there are these moments where you'll just be too thrilled to move at all and you just stay on all fours and squeal. And what is it with you making a bee line for the one electrical cord in our living room?! It's not even very noticeable, hidden behind a chair, off in the corner. Nevertheless, there you were, little fingers reaching, stretching for that cord and then shoving it into your mouth as quickly as possible. Even though I've hid the cord you still look for it, waiting for ol' mama to slip up so you can gleefully suck and gnaw the electric wiring to your hearts content or jam your tiny little baby fingers into the wall outlets. Here I'd thought I'd baby proofed the room. Apparently I was only fooling myself.
Gone are the days of plopping you in the center of the bed to get your bath ready, or leaving you in the middle of the rug in the living room to amuse yourself with the toys only within reach. You are ALL OVER the place, kiddo! And it seems with this new found talent you are much more independent. As soon as you got the basics of crawling down you were like, "See ya, mama, you old hag." Now you are content to play by yourself for hours, not that we would ever leave you alone for hours, what with all the running around keeping the shoes, ornaments, rugs, and dust bunnies out of your mouth. And you WANT to be moving, all the time. You will hardly sit still long enough for me to snap a picture.
One afternoon in particular, I went to lunch with a girlfriend and her 10-month old daughter sat serenely in her high chair, playing quietly, eating daintily, and generally being quite lovely. I, on the other hand, had a raucous ape attached to my head, that spit up on my leg, chewed my face, tried to grab my food, drink, silverware, and napkin without diversion, and I struggled to eat my meal with my single available hand let alone have a coherent conversation. What a fiasco! Ha! I've come to realize this is the way of boys. Even at this young tender age the difference between you and little girls is apparent. Your personality, demeanor, activity level, EVERYTHING screams "boy"!
We made our first trip to Reno, since you've been born and there were so many new people showering you with love and attention, it was wonderful. We did our best to keep you on some sort of schedule and we did get a few good naps in. Despite our best efforts there was one night when you were so exhausted you fell asleep drinking your bottle. This has never happened before! You stopped eating and everything. When I picked you up to put you in bed you didn't budge, not when I set you down, not even when I kissed your head. You slept for almost 13 hours straight!
We brought back a lot of wonderful memories and a cold that no member of the family escaped including yourself. It was the first time we've had to use the nasal aspirator (aka enema bulb) on you and you did not like it one bit. No Sireee! After all the efforts, the whining, tears, howling, and whatnot, we finally stopped trying, occasionally swiping a Puffs Plus across your dripping nose while you were looking the other way. We were all in the throes of recovering from aforementioned illness when Thanksgiving came around and we decided to go to our friend's house after all (aren't we considerate friends?! ha). We ate a lovely dinner while you sat on the floor and chewed an unsoiled diaper and painstakingly took apart the contents of your diaper bag. When you got bored with that we passed you around the table so everyone got a chance to hold the cutest baby with a dribbly nose. Definitely a Thanksgiving to remember.
Your fine motor skills are really starting to show, you can pick a cheerio up with just your thumb and pointer finger and convey it successfully to you mouth. Of course you still put your whole fist in there, cheerio and all, on the off-chance that, just maybe, you might miss the cheerio. Chicken was a huge hit, not that flesh-colored paste that comes in a jar, but REAL chicken, from the deli, torn into little bite-sized bits. Your interest in toys has grown by leaps and bounds. Right now, tupperware and balls (of the inflatable variety) are your favorites. You have started to show a dislike for certain textures, like when you shoved that bit of faux fur on my winter coat in your mouth and showed your immediate disdain. Cat hair warranted a similar reaction.
I had grand plans to take you to see Santa this Christmas and as of yet those plans have not been realized. Your papa got a driving job that has him out of town 6 days a week until after the holidays and between errands, work, laundry, and life in general there just hasn't been a minute to get you to the mall and see ol' St. Nick. I'm not so sure you could spend hours waiting in line just to yank an old man's whiskers right out of his face. Maybe next year. In spite of the hustle and bustle I still try to appreciate all the little moments I get to spend with you. And those little moments are what truly count.
Love Forever: Mama
Friday, December 10, 2010
Janet Cowan was born in Airdrie, Lanarkshire, Scotland. She married James Black when she was very young. He was born in Airdrie, Lanarkshire, Scotland. Janet and James Black had fourteen children. James was a weaver, and one day, at the mill, he fell into the dam. He was stone deaf after that. He was a very good-looking man, but he was, also, very vain. He was very clean, sometimes when he was up in the middle of the night, he'd wash his feet because he said walking around made the soles of his feet dirty. He lived with my grandmother for about three years before he died. He favored my aunt, and he didn't like my mother. He'd send her to the store to get something, and when she brought it, he'd send her back saying she had gotten the wrong thing. He was an old man then and very crabby. He was an educated man too. He could sit and read books day and night. Another one of his, shall I say virtues, was that he knew everybody. No matter who a person would talk about, he knew their parents, even if it was somebody in Australia. He got all of his teeth pulled out at once, and the shock of that brought on his death. He died in January 1912.
Janet Black was one of the daughters of Janet and James Black. She was born in 1868 in Airdrie, Lanarkshire, Scotland. She was a weaver before she married George Gilmour.
George Gilmour was born in 1870 in Airdrie, Lanarkshire, Scotland. He was the son of Barbara Nisbet Gilmour, who was born at Hart Hill, Lanarkshire, Scotland. When he was small he had a bad habit of running away. George and Janet Gilmorur had five children, Jim, George, Janet, Barbara, and Margaret. My brother is named after my grandfather.
Rebecca Gough was born in Kilwinning, Scotland. Before she married, she took care of her grandmother. She married James Watt who was born in Gilford, County Down,Ireland. He was a shoemaker, and he taught his sons that trade. Rebecca and James had six children, Rebecca, Mary, Anne, James, John, and Andrew.
*My mother's father died in 1942 and her mother died in 1939.
Friday, December 3, 2010
The Passing of Time
Like a gently flowing stream, Time never pauses.
Like a lonely desert sentinal(sic), The World watches.
Like the rising and setting of the sun,
People live and die.
They overcome the obstacles in their path,
As they overcome mountains leading to newer
And richer lands.
I dedicate this book to my mother and father. It is through their love and wisdom that I have achieved the goals I have reached today.
At the moment I can definitely say that my feeling for this autobiography is not what it should be. I suppose I should be rather glad that I am having such a wonderful opportunity to write it, but all the emotion it arouses is indifference and slight fear. The fear arises because I am afraid I shall be unable to acquire all the necessary material, and the indifference, because it seems foolish to start a thing so much ahead of time. I suppose, though, that it is the wisest move.
My appearance is not all that spectacular. The color of my hair is an ordinary brown, and so are my eyes. I am five feet six inches tall; I weigh one hundred and ten pounds, and I'm very thin. I dress according to the fad of the day. When the styles change, I change along with them. I have a fearful temper when aroused. Sometimes I am good natured, at other times very bad. My conduct at all times depends on how I feel, and my disposition, I guess, is average.
Some of my traits of character are inherited from my father, some from my mother, although my mother (says) I inherit all the bad ones from my father. Oh yes, I was born on July 5, 1926.
The above is a brief description of myself to give you an idea of what I'm like.
Between the covers of an unassuming folder with bent corners and water damage is my Grandma Ruth's autobiography, a history up until 1943, carefully typed on what once were white pages. I never met my Grandma Ruth, she passed away in 1950 just 5 days after giving birth to my dad. I was always curious about the woman I was named after and when I started reading this I felt like she was writing it just for me, her candid and honest writer's voice, indicative of her time and age. The beauty of it and it's connection to my ancestry is priceless. I am sharing this here more for posterity and for my small but significant tie to this woman that makes us family. Her history is a part of mine.