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    » Show All     1 2 3 4 5 ... 16» Next»     » Slide Show

    A Letter to my Grandchildren April 1981 by Minnie Florence Carpenter McDaniel

    This letter tells some family history from the perspective of my grandmother, Florence Carpenter McDaniel.

    A letter to my Grandchildren

    April 1981


    I am writing this letter to tell you, I have thoroughly enjoyed the role of Grandmother and am perhaps more sentimental about it all due to the fact I never saw my own Grandparents.

    You may feel you know me well enough without reading details of my life.  But time and posterity may change all of that after a long period of years.  If just one among you becomes interested in knowing more about your ancestors it will be worth my effort.

    I was born Minnie Florence Carpenter, February 3, 1909, in Morgan County, Kentucky.  The third child of John Wallace and Maude Ellen Pieratt Carpenter.  In a middle class community, where no one knew poverty, and I sincerely doubt if anyone was wealthy.  From an early age I thrilled to hear the stories of our many generations of ancestors and how they came over from England, Ireland, Scotland and Germany, to settle in a wilderness new state called Kentucky.  How brave and industrious these pioneer people must have been to clear land and build log houses, schools, churches and stores.  Then clear land for farming.  I was especially happy and content with our 20th century life style, and being an American.  I admired my busy and happy parents and their achievements.  The new burley tobacco crops provided needed money.

    Sunday was a day set aside for rest, and attending church.  All other days were work filled from early morning until night.  My father was never idle.  He planned his rainy weather work long in advance, he repaired our shoes, caned a chair bottom or took corn or wheat to be stone ground for our bread.  He and our oldest sister, Ruth, planted and tended the flowers.  We all worked in the vegetable garden and fields except Mother, who cared for the small children, cooked, sewed, and did the laundry by hand.   Mother had to be the worldís best cook or I was a mighty hungry child.  I am convinced her cooking was super.  I wish all children could have the domestic training that was available to our family.

    There were no telephones in my early life.  News was sometimes delayed in reaching us.  But somehow we learned about important happenings, such as, the superintendent of schools riding horseback 15 miles to tell us there was a flu epidemic and the schools were to close.  Then there was my Fatherís weekly newspaper, that he read from cover to cover.

    Our winter evenings were spent around an open fire, our Father reading and our Mother knitting.  She knit at least one stocking sock or mitten every evening, totally ignoring seven noisy quarreling children.  We ate popcorn as long as our brother Forrest would pop it over the open fire, then we would eat cold red apples from our cellar.  We all knew we were loved when we heard our Father making the rounds of our bedrooms keeping us covered and protected from the cold on winter nights.

    Thinking back, I wonder if there was anyone in our entire community who wasnít related to us.  At one time our first cousins numbered over one hundred.  Some of our uncles began migrating farther west, Ohio, Missouri, Illinois, Oklahoma and California.  When they returned to visit us driving cars, I began dreaming of life in a city and driving a car some day.  Well this came all too soon.  After our father died in 1921, we matured rapidly.  Our oldest brother had not been trained for farming and our life on the farm became more and more difficult.  The nearest I got to college was in 1925 when my Mother sent in a $5.00 tuition to Berea, Kentucky.  I was to enter in the fall and work in the kitchen for room and board, the first opportunity of my young life, the very thought was exciting.  Until my Uncle and Aunt in Chicago suggested I was much more mature than the average 16 year old, and perhaps a little more intelligent.  They suggested Mother send me to Chicago where I could work as a clerk at Marshall Fields & Co. and in the evening help Aunt Edna with her rooming house to pay for my room and board.  The decision was easy, I would go to Chicago where I could immediately earn a salary.  I will never forget the loneliness, so far from home and family, but I was a big girl now, and I was rapidly becoming a top sales person in the ladyís purses, on the first floor at Fields.  An innocent girl of 16 coming from a community where crime at that time was non-existing, to a big city where there was only two per cent Americans, and 98 percent foreigners, and some crime, not as today, 56 years later.  My salary was $17.00 per week, car fare 7 cents, the rest was mine.  My Aunt Edna had very good taste in clothes and told me I wore them well, I never bought an item without first consulting her.

    I checked the yellow pages for a Christian Church and found one on Chicagoís West side.  I didnít attend when I learned my Uncle was an unbeliever and it was going to cause friction between us.  I was allowed to date my Auntís brother whom I disliked, or her cousin who was little too old, however, I wasnít allowed to date their handsome Swedish or Norwegian roomers, that was a No No!, not to mention the Marshall Fields fellows.

    The desires of my family to move to Chicago were fulfilled upon the death of my beautiful 31 year old Aunt from child birth.  Genevieve, her first and only child lived and needed my Mother to care for her, and operate their rooming house.  An intelligent Mother with a family who had always known work, there was nothing to fear, just a welcome challenge.

    In the spring and summer of 1926 I was properly introduced to a handsome blue eyed fellow from Tennessee.  He lived in the rooming house of a lady I knew at Fields, along with many of his friends.  He, too, was knowledgeable beyond his years, and his blue eyes attracted me from the very beginning.  The same blue eyes I was to see in my own children and seven grandchildren, and now have been blessed with four blue eyed great grandchildren.

    I will go back and detail marriage plans.  Having no father to give me away, and no money for a wedding, it would be simple.  We had heard of couples eloping to Crown Point, Indiana, where age laws were lenient, and being married by a justice of the peace.  But eloping didnít sound like a proper thing to do.  So with the consent and blessings of an understanding Mother, we traveled via train, accompanied by Mr. & Mrs. Lauton Robinson, childhood friends of your Grandfather, to witness our marriage by Howard H. Kemp, J.P.  We didnít add a ring box to his huge collection, there was no money for rings at that time.  The date was November 13, 1926. 

    I have always felt sure our similar background was a big factor in our attraction to each other.  In later months when your Grandfather took me to Tennessee to meet his family, I was amazed to see the likeness in our upbringing.  Church on Sunday, no smoking, no drinking.  And like my East Kentucky Carpenter family, West Tennessee was populated with a beautiful McDaniel Family.  My handsome first cousins with black curly hair, and some successful Uncles lived in Gibson County.

    Charlie Moore McDaniel married Addie Lee Jones, the only child of John and Kitty OíDaniel Jones around 1905.  Your Grandfather, Joseph Floyd McDaniel, was the first child of that marriage.  He had five brothers and sisters, a loving and devoted family held in high esteem by all who knew them.  The beautiful blue eye was not a McDaniel eye.  It was Grandmother McDaniel who had the blue eyes, and I failed to learn if it was from the Jones family or OíDaniel family.  Certainly a predominating color that will live in our descendents through our eternity.

    I found the Tennessee people warm friendly Americans, but with perhaps too much prejudice.  I was deeply touched to see the deep devotion shown your Grandfather from the family former black help.  They would walk many miles to see him on learning we were there from Chicago to visit the family.  We once listened to a tired old man tell us how he had lost every member of his large family with T.B.  The colored people lived in poverty in that state at that time.  But I believe increased industry has made it possible for them to live well, and educate their children in recent years, and death from T.B. is unthinkable today.

    Our lives were blessed in so many ways, a beautiful blue eyed son born near his fatherís 20th birthday, and a beautiful baby girl near my 20th birthday, with the same beautiful blue eyes.  We now had our family and were yet so young.  It didnít take me long to know I was married to a genius.  Knowledgeable in every venture from building large hydraulic presses for automobile industry, to the repairs of a small time piece.  The youngest executive of USI, a founder of his company at an early age.  He was admired for his character, and got along famously with all co-workers.  Among other things he was an inventor and with his knowledge of farms, those were his biggest investments.  History will tell you those investments paid off.

    Your Grandfather never belonged to a Country Club.  Never tried to impress anyone with flashy cars, and I have seen him put 100,000 miles on a car before selling it.  He never traded cars, never bought a car on time, never used credit cards, but fully enjoyed the comfort of knowing he had security in the bank and could buy anything he wanted at any time.  I never doubted his ability to fight for a comeback, and succeed.  But no longer able to cope with the supervision of building large presses and fighting the bitter cold winters in Illinois, we drove West in the early days of 1960.  We had never seen the sun shine so bright as it did in Phoenix.  California was too congested even back then, and not nearly as inviting.  You can see why we chose to settle in Arizona, and we never regretted the decision.  I donít know if your Grandfather would have admitted this because it was I who encouraged the move from the Mid-West.  But in my honest opinion his last 20 years were the happiest of his entire life.

    He could continue with his love for investing in real estate, and there wasnít a piece of property available in all of N.E. Phoenix he wasnít familiar with.  Some of our happiest outings were spent at the small lakes, Woods Canyon, and the White Mountain lakes fishing with you children.  I believe those memories will live in your hearts also.

    We cherished our travels in our motor homes.  The 18 thousand mile trip in 1966 was our most fun filled trip ever.  We covered our National parks well, riding double on a Honda after parking our vehicle in a campground.  I hope you can all enjoy this kind of travel some day.

    One and one half lonely years since he left us, I at last feel I am in charge of myself.  I look back on 53 years with a wonderful man.  His influence on all of us has been great and good, and my faith leads me to believe his spirit will be watching over us through our eternity.

                                                               Loving your Grandmother

                                                               M. Florence McDaniel


    Linked toMinnie Florence CARPENTER

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