Ready to Ignite!
One time, long ago, I felt like my grandmother was beating me to death.
During my early teenage years, my dad built a beautiful addition onto our house. He truly was an engineer that was never trained as one. It comes through his genes, for his grandfather Ambrose was renown for being able to build a house just like someone wanted with barely a splinter left over.
When my grandmother was living as a widow in rural Kentucky, my mom always worried about her going out to get the coal for the stove during the wintertime. She could easily have fallen on icy steps, snow, etc. and it may have been awhile before anyone found her. So, each October we would make the trip to eastern Kentucky to bring her to Ohio so she could spend the winter until "plantin' time" in March.
She loved sitting by the fireplace in the room my dad built. The fire helped to warm her knees, which were extremely arthritic. I will always have memories of her sitting by that fire in her special chair with her rusty green bean can that she spit her tobacco juice in.
One evening, I had taken a bath, washed my hair and put on my flannel nightgown to get ready to warm myself and dry my hair by the fire. Mama (MawMaw) loved to watch me brush my long hair by the fire. Hers was long, too - but she always wore it in a bun.
I was standing in front of the fire talking to her and just loving the warm fire when all of a sudden she flew out of her chair (arthritic knees and all!), knocked me to the floor, and began beating me with the little broom we always kept on the hearth to sweep up with. I was so astounded! I didn't know what I'd said to offend her, but I was trying to think of it so I wouldn't say it again!
Actually, she had seen my nightgown smoldering and ready to ignite. It was flannel, and it wouldn't have taken much to set it on fire.
I have her to thank for the quick reaction to an inevitable tragedy that could have meant the end of me. Many women of her era saw terrible things happen to their children, their friends, their loved ones and themselves because of open fireplaces, cookstoves, etc. She knew what she saw, and she took care of it rapidly.
The house where she lived in eastern Kentucky. It was built by my grandfather and still stands. My uncle, Dick Stevens and wife Betty live there today.
Bertha Agnes Gearheart Stevens, sitting on the porch of the house in Olive Hill, Kentucky.