Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The New Mexico Years

(Click to enlarge.)
I remember this trip. We're all very tired as we journeyed the three-four day trip from New Mexico back home to WV. Looks like the cat in my sister's arms is even tired. That's me in the cowboy hat on the other side of my mom.

When I was six years old, my dad on a whim applied for a college teaching job in Las Vegas, New Mexico and got it. So we spent two years in NM and it was an adventure. In my first grade class I had American Indians and Spanish speakers. Not something I had come across in West Virginia. I learned to eat chili, which I'd never tasted before (and still love). I have my father's recipe from those days. 

We lived in a row of barracks up on a mesa (WV hill with the top naturally sheared off). Every little house had a horse or two roaming free and the horses knew which house they belonged to. Ours was named Blue because he was dappled. Sometimes he'd come to our door at mealtime and bang the screen with his nose until we gave him a snack. I also had a pony named Soapy that bucked me off once and my dad almost swore.

I didn't like the dusty desert, which was a shock after WV's lush green hillsides, but I loved the wild donkeys and the horned toads that skittered across our back patio. They looked like toads but lizardlike with a tail. I'd catch them and stroke their backs.

Lots of memories but that's another post.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Snowball and Me

(Click on picture to enlarge.)

Here I am riding Snowball again. AND I've got on my Davy Crockett  t-shirt. I'm on Grandma's farm and having a great childhood. It went like this. I'd get up in the morning and get dressed and do whatever I wanted for the rest of the day on 50 acres of beautiful countryside. So I'd hop on Snowball and ride him around bareback wherever we decided to go. I always let him stop and munch grass whenever he wanted.

We'd play imaginary games (well, I would). One of my favorites was Annie Oakley and he was my faithful steed. (I never did know the name of her horse.) Other times I'd be a harem girl and he'd be a camel or a circus performer and he'd be an elephant. He was my best friend those days and in my memory, it's always summer.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ye Old Homestead

This was my grandparents' house in Nicholas County where I spent part of my childhood. It was on 50 acres and was the most beautiful spot in the world to me. Notice that the yard is fenced in to keep out livestock and wandering critters. Even the dogs were not allowed into the inner yard. The yard was filled with all kinds of flowering bushes and I especially loved the Snowball bush.

In the early morning, cows would gather around the fence and Mooooo trying to get my grandpa to come out and milk them. It was not the greatest way to wake up but maybe better than an alarm, although you couldn't shut it off. I loved the cows and the milk, cream, butter, cheese and cottage cheese they provided. I helped grandma churn milk to make butter and remember grandpa lugging around those big silver milk jugs. Happy memories!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Dashing Uncle Joe

Here's my Uncle Joe Creasy during WWII. I love the airplane with its ferocious painted teeth. A lot of the men in my family fought in wars.

A couple of my Creasy ancestors were in the Civil War and one was wounded, one killed. That's when West Virginia got its name, by the way: it seceded from Virginia, which fought for the South, and went with the North.

My dad was a naval officer during WWII, which is why I was born in Miami Beach, where he was stationed. Since the Navy was moving him around to various bases, my mom returned to WV and stayed on my grandparents farm in Nicholas County until the war was over and he came home. I was two when I saw him again. I think that was the experience of many children during that time.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Uncle Roy

Wow, ancient photo. This is my grandpa John Creasy and my grandma Rose dressed to the hilt for the picture. I notice that I have my grandma's deepset eyes but look at her clothes! Did everyone dress like this in WV for formal occasions at that time?

My Uncle Roy is the little boy in the shot and the little girl my Aunt Sarah. I'm especially draw to this because it shows my Uncle Roy as a young carefree boy, when later he had a lot of problems. (He was the model for Uncle John in my book Mountain Girl.) I only knew him as a withdrawn adult.

I always think that if he had lived today with all we know and do for problem children he could have lived a normal and happy life.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Family Gathering

Hey, this is such a great picture shot about 1950 at my aunt and uncle's farm near Calvin, West Virginia. That's me in the middle of the front row leaning against my Grandma Rose's knee. On either side of me is my sister Shirley and my cousin Clark. In the back row is my mom Katie, my Grandpa John, Aunt Luella and Uncle Silmon. My dad was taking the picture.

I used to love to go to their house...just getting there was an adventure. You turned off onto this little windy  dirt road that hugged the mountains and hoped you didn't meet anyone going the other way. I was prone to car sickness so it seemed a long way to their farm but probably was only a couple of miles.

Once we got there, it was a kid's paradise, though. There were my five boy cousins and all they were into (they had a box of comic books under the bed!). I especially remember my aunt's homemade mincemeat pie with whipped cream straight from the cows. There were animals and always kittens, it seemed. And there were the mountains (need I say more?).

Look how happy we all are! I'd like to step into the picture and relive it for a couple of hours.