Monday, December 14, 2009

Incredible Woman #18 - Francis Irene Evans

Both of my grandmothers have passed away in the last 3 months, and they had such a strong influence on me, that I thought I would feature each of them this month. I can't think of 2 women who are more incredible than the two of them. I'm so excited to share them with you. So, this week I'll be featuring my maternal grandmother, Francis Irene Osborne Evans. I interviewed my mother, Barbara, for the information I'll share this week.

Today I want to tell you about my grandmother's childhood. Irene was one of 8 children - 5 girls and 3 boys.

She was the oldest daughter of John Henry and Dora Osborne.

She grew up on a dairy farm in Virginia.

All of the kids worked hard on the farm. There was so much to do - helping with the cows, tending their mother's large garden, hunting for meat, raising chickens and pigs. The family grew or raised all of their own food. The cows were Holstein cows - black and white.

Irene's dad was very proud of his dairy farm. They had hundreds of cows and milked each one. Then, the milk trucks would come and get the milk. I remember visiting my great-grandfather's dairy farm as a child. At that time, his son's family took care of the farm and, lucky me, I got to help milk the cows early, early each morning. It was so much fun running around the barn, bare-footed, helping with these huge cows. My mother remembers drinking from great pitchers of fresh milk when she was a child. I, on the other hand, thought that was gross, so I refused to drink anything but milk from the local grocery store. Imagine that - visiting a dairy farm with fresh milk, and instead, driving to the store for milk! I'm kind of ashamed of that now. Besides the chores on the farm, my grandmother learned to do many other things. Being the oldest girl, she helped prepare and cook food and clean the house. Her mother, Dora, taught her other things as well. One thing was quilting. My grandmother was an incredible quilter. More on that later this week. One thing that surprised me, was finding out that my grandmother only went to school through the 7th or 8th grade.

At that time, her grandmother became ill, and she had to drop out of school to take care of her. She never went back to school. I would never have guessed that my grandmother only had an 8th grade education. The only thing that might have tipped me off was that I remember her moving her lips when she read, but other than that, I didn't know she had to drop out of school.

Being lucky enough to visit the dairy farm 2 times in my youth, I was able to walk through the house that she grew up in, and imagine my grandmother as a child, running through the same fields, and playing in the same barn as I did. She lived in a two story white farmhouse. I remember quite well, walking upstairs, and staying in one of the rooms there. It had a big squeaky bed. My great-grandfather used to sit on the porch with his brother and sons, talking into the late afternoon. I don't think I ever met his brother, but I loved being there with him. I really loved visiting my grandmother's childhood home. I imagine she had a wonderful time during those years as a child - even though it was during the depression. She had a wonderful father and mother, who taught her so many things... things that trickled down through my mother to me.

Tomorrow you'll meet the "teenage" and "young adult" Irene... a girl who stole the heart of an Air Force officer! You'll fall in love with him too - wait till you see his picture! Please join me then.


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