It’s that time of year again. No, I don’t mean the Halloween hooplah. For me, as I sit at my computer during this last week of October, my mind is busy with memories of my great-grandmother.
She was born Oct. 30, 1870, the daughter of Calvin and Persis Raymond Rogers As far as I know, she was born in a house that once sat in an area I knew as a field “over back” on the farm where I grew up. The only thing left of her childhood home in my memory was the site of an old well.
She was named Betsy Lucinda, after two of her mother’s sisters, and was the fifth child and third daughter born to the Rogers family. As a kid, I thought of her only as someone I adored, who baked wonderful cookies and who laughed (most of the time) at the antics of my sisters and me. And on top of all that, she was the very best storyteller I could imagine.
There were many tales about her childhood on her father’s farm. But my favorite was always when she told us about her sister who had long ago gone west with her husband.
Gram cherished the letters that arrived way too seldom from “Aunt Mate,” who by that time lived in California with her son. As the years went by, I absorbed the tales and dreamed of the day when I might see the “wild west.”
At one point, when Gram ran out of new stories to tell, she made up one of her own. The tale she spun about a brother and sister named Becky and Ben — who set out with a team and covered wagon to visit their Uncle Hiram and Aunt Eunice who lived “out west” — was funny and downright fascinating.
And as I look back at it from all these years, heart wrenching. Gram missed her big sister and knew only fragments of the life she was leading so far away. And so, Gram made up a yarn full of fun and goofy nonsense that, in my humble opinion, should have been published.
My sisters and I would wait each night for our turn to sleep with her, knowing that she would lull us into dreamland with another chapter. The bed would shake as we giggled as the adventures of Becky and Ben and their trusty team of horses, dubbed Nub and Nubbin.
Gram considered comic books to be very sinful and, if she saw any of us with one, she would give us one of her rare frowns. One night, as she related the newest event in the Ben and Becky story, she said, lowering her voice to a whisper, that they were suddenly surrounded by a band of scary men, intending, it appeared, to rob them.
But along came a cowboy on his white horse. He and his companion got Becky and Ben out of their sticky situation (I can’t remember how they did it) and rode away shouting “Hi yo Silver.”
The bed shook as we both laughed so hard we cried, and I never ever once reminded her that she must have, at one time or another, taken a peek at one of my comic books.
Well. Our beloved Gram has been gone a long time. However, she and her stories live on in the memory of those of us who were fortunate enough to have known her.