Friday, September 30, 2011

Grandma's Story #1 - Page 1

Grandma Dovie Walker
Last year I was visiting my Aunt Beulah (my father’s eldest sister) and she started telling me a story about how she came across some stories her Mother (my Grandmother, Dovie Walker) had written a long, long time ago. As the story goes, sometime between the end of World War I and the start of the Great Depression, my Grandparents traveled quite a bit. Not for leisurely fun or because they were in the military, but because they were very poor, as many Americans were during this troublesome period of time. So poor in fact, my Grandfather would routinely uproot his family and move from city to city - from state to state - looking for work.

As many of you know, back in those days women were expected to stay home and care for the house and the children. Supporting the family rested squarely on the shoulders of the men in the family. Well, apparently my Grandma Walker had ideas of her own. In an effort to help bring money into the household, she began writing stories and submitted them to pulp fiction magazines. As you will see from her writings, she wasn’t well educated. In fact, I would go as far as to say she probably dropped out of school at an early age, so its safe to say that none of her stories ever saw print. But it didn't stifle her imagination, and it certainly didn’t stop her from trying. I find that immensely inspiring and courageous.

I was so excited to hear that my Grandmother was a writer; I just had to see and read these stories for myself. It took some time, but we finally found them buried amongst other family treasures. I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to hold these hand written stories in my hands. I never knew my Grandma. She passed away when my Father was just 2 years old from an infection after giving birth to my Aunt Omah. To have something personally written by her own hand was truly a treasure for me.

They were in remarkably good condition for their age (~80-90 years old), and considering they were written in pencil on poor quality paper (by today’s standards). The first thing I did was start scanning each page into my computer so her words would never be lost to moths, mildew, or fire. It was interesting to see the similarities in her handwriting and my Father’s, especially since she passed away long before she had much influence on him in that regard.

I thought it would be a neat project to transcribe her stories, one page at a time, and share them with you. I will also be imploring your help in the process. I’ll include a high resolution scan of each page with each post so you can help me decipher her handwriting and grammar. In addition, I will be editing each page, much like an editor would, to make them a bit easier to read, while maintaining the tone and feel of the original story.  I’d like your assistance and opinions on this as well.

I'll highlight words, phrases, and sentences that I am uncertain with in the transcription. These are the areas I will need your help on the most.

My Grandmother never titled her stories, so after each story has been completely transcribed, I'd liked to hold a vote or a contest for picking a title for each one. Sound fun?

Let’s get started!

This is for you Grandma.

Story #1 - Page #1 (click to make larger)

2606 words
Mrs. Earl Walker
Holcomb, Miss   [#1]
R.I.   [#2]

I am here to tell you the story of my life beginning back when I was a small child. There were only 4 in our family, my father and mother and my half-sister Irean and Carry [#3] myself for I was the only child my mother had.

I sure am sorrow. My father were the man he were he were so mean to my mother.
He would go away from mother and stay for 3 months at a time my mother were only 15 yr old when she married and father were 19 yr old.


2606 words
Mrs. Earl Walker
Holcomb, MO
Route #1

I’m here to tell you the story of my life, beginning back when I was a small child. There were only 4 of us in my family; my father, mother, my half-sister Irene and me, Carry.

It filled me with sorrow to see how father treated mother. He would go away from mother and stay for 3 months at a time. She was only 15 when they married, and father was 19.


[#1] My understanding is that my Grandpa Walker was born in Missouri (I haven't been able to find birth or census records to confirm this), so it would make sense that my Grandmother was in Holcomb, Missouri when she wrote this, even though the proper abbreviation for Missouri is MO. 
Honestly, I'm not even certain that this spells Holcomb. The text is rather faded in this area.

There is a Holcomb, Mississippi, and considering he did travel around for work, this could be considered a possibility as well. However, I'm leaning on the former given the family history, and the fact that my Grandmother wasn't very well educated. She likely shortened Missouri in a logical sense, not knowing the proper abbreviation (if they even existed back then).

[#2] This totally has me for a loss. My initial thought was this was R. I. for Rhode Island, but then I started thinking this might be an extension of her address. In Tennessee, a lot of remote places use Route #'s for postal designations. So I'm inclined to think that R. I. is in fact, R. 1. for Route #1.

Holcomb, Miss
R. 1. (route #1)

[#3] This one was tough too. At first I thought it was 'Garry,' because in one of her other stories she writes in first person as if she was a young man. However, in this story, the narrator is definitely female, because later in the story she talks about getting married to a man. As we move forward, perhaps there will be other clues in her handwriting that will give us a better indication that this name is 'Carry,' and not something else entirely.

More of the story...

[PAGE 2]

Michael A. Walker
Defying Procrastination

Find any errors? Any suggestions for the edits or highlighted areas?

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