Den-Den and Nama are seen sitting on the steps of their large front porch steps. This was in 1964 - they were 82 at the time. We had the most wonderful time on their porch. Den Den was always at work on a crosswork puzzle and Nama was usually in the kitchen baking for the evening meal. I loved those days. The pictures on the right are of Ophelia, my grandmother whom we called Nama. She is pictured in her college graduation picture - something very unusual for a woman born in 1882 but her father was a college president. Farmland College of Virginia. She is seated the second from the right.
I dearly loved my paternal grandparents - Early & Ophelia (Harris) Terrell. They lived in a large Victorian house on the corner of Taylor and England Street in Ashland, Virginia. We lived in Richmond, where I was born in 1940, and I used to visit them every weekend. Although Ashland was just 16 miles from Richmond it was like being in the country. Their home had a barn and a wonderful huge oak tree complete with a tire swing.
My daddy's family in the 1940s. Left to right is Shorty - a Navy psychiatrist, Aunt Martha, Nama, Den Den, Aunt Francis (Biff & Robbin's mother) and my Dad.
My grandmother had this enormous dining room table. It sat twelve without any of its leaves. We ate all of our meals there, which were major events. In fact, every meal was a major event looking back. In all of my 45 years of entertaining - and believe me, I have entertained - a simple breakfast at Nama's was an excersize in Southern cuisine. A Sunday brunch consisted of baked apples, peeled fresh from the core an hour earlier, homemade buiscuits, cornbead, 5 types of homemade marmalade, fried fish, a Smithfield Ham, 6 dozen scramled eggs with fish brains, spoonbread, smothered liver and onions, bacon, sausage, assorted fresh vegetables and all of the trimmings. What a feast! And this was every Sunday morning, without fail, after church when we would return to my grandparents home and just eat.
Now, decades later, I am trying to remember the seating arrangements. After all, these were my formative years as we moved to Washington D. C. when I was seven. These were World War II years but in an agricultural community somehow food was just not affected by the war. Everything else was - gasoline, rationings, stockings, silks, etc. but in a rural community you cooked everything from scratch. NaMa had a woman that helped her in the kitchen so they were both busy from dawn to dusk preparing meals as there were always college borders dining with us. Their home was located down the street from Rancolph Macon College and she took in roomers to help defray expenses.
So now as to the seating arrangements. Sometimes I faced the huge bay window looking over the back yard, which was cut by Den Den's helpers, extending out into a field of overgrown wildflowers and blue skies. Other times I sat with my back to the bay window and looked at the old black pot belly stove in the right hand corner of the dining room. (My brother and cousins and I used to listen through the flues of that stove on the above floor to hear adult converstaions long after we had been dismissed or sent down for our afternoon naps) Beyond that were the glassed French doors leading to my grandmother's room. Of course we couldn't actually see in as she had fashioned a discrete window covering from the other side - a lovely piece of lace, as I recall, that was gathered at both ends onto a small rod secured at the window panel ends. Beyond that, her room, was also an endless wonder of fascination.
I do remember, some six decades later, that regardless of where I sat the view was fascinating. So many wonderful things happened im my grandmother's house. It greatly saddens me to think that my grandchildren will not have similar memories of my home.
left is the home where Daddy was born. Below it is where his grandparents lived with a picture of my great grandfather. It was really fun to go back and visit this part of history in our family but also was very sad to see the state of the buildings and the fact that they are no longer used.