youngest of a large family has been a most unusual experience. By
the time I was born, half of the ten remaining children in our family
were teenagers and the oldest three were in their late teens or early
twenties. When I was due to be borne, it was a Friday and Luella had
returned from a school dance at about 11 o'clock. 'Papa', as our father
was known, told Luella to run over to Bishop Gardner's house, two
houses east and call Dr. Noyes to come as Mama was having labor pains.
At about 2:30 a.m. I came into the world. Howard was about 4 or 5
at the time. The 4-plus year gap was due to the death of my next oldest
sister, Catherine, who died in infancy during the great 'Flu' epidemic
of 1918. Another gap occurred with the death of another brother, Stanford,
also in infancy, a few years earlier. Mama bore 12 children plus one
or two mis-carriages over a span of about 22 years. I understand she
lost a child at the time Papa died. I was 2 1/2 years old when he
died. They say he was shipped home from Caliente, Nevada in dry ice,
clad in his underwear.
of my siblings during the years between ages six and fourteen are
very vague, a fact that has always been a source of great sorrow to
chin was about even with the top of the big round kitchen table, I
used to stand by Mama while she kneaded the bread. I waited in great
expectation for her to suddenly whack me in the face with a wad of
dough that was ready to go into the pan!
to wear her hair long. It was very thick and kind of auburn in color.
It was her custom at the end of the day to let her hair down. She
would sit in the rocking chair and let her hair fall away over the
back of the chair while I combed or brushed it for her.
I have played make-believe games under the quilts she had stretched
out on the frames in the "Front Room." In cold weather,
after supper and after the dishes were washed in the pantry by lantern
or candle-light, Mama would take a shovel full of glowing coals from
the kitchen stove(originally located where the sink and cupboards
were later installed) and start a fire in the 'Peninsular' stove in
the front room. At Christmas time we hung our stockings on a small
rope strung behind the stove.
for a time with Mama on the softest feather tick ever made--but what
a job it was to get it ready to sleep in again! How well I remember
Johnny Davis whistling as he went by on his bicycle on his way to
his work at the Post Office. In the spring of the year we would wake
up to the Baaa-ing of sheep being driven down our street on their
way to summer pasture miles away. Mama would say,
"Mack, get out there quick and keep those sheep out of the garden!!"
Originally there was a wooden picket fence out front which was replaced
with a wire fence before my time or remembrance. Eventually the wire
fence was removed, but I don't know why, except that fences were no
longer desired(or allowed?)
I had many a breakfast on the oven door of the kitchen coal stove.
She used to make me a cup a 'granma's tea' consisting of hot water
with milk or cup hot milk and sugar. She would have her "cup
of Sin" as she called it and that is about the nearest she came
felt moved to do so, usually when there were several of us around
the table, she would instruct us to turn our chairs facing outward
and kneel down at our chair to be led in prayer. I still remember
the quiet pause and then her lovely reverent voice as she slowly said:
"Our Father, which art in heaven..."
with Mama just once. I don't know why. Perhaps because she never went
to many such events during my lifetime. She taught me the steps to:
"Have you seen my new shoes?" It was a precious memory.
Mama to Relief Society meetings and to the City Hall when she had
work to do for the City as Treasurer. I remember that long hard bench
I had to sit or lie down on. Out in the entrance vestibule there were
World War I guns displayed. Over the west entrance was sort of a platform
on which was displayed a water cooled 30-caliber machine gun. Little
did I realize that the time would come when I would command a platoon
of a slightly updated version of those very guns in combat! (They
were called "Stuttering Sams").
Mama took me to Salt Lake for some reason. Other than getting sick
from the careening motion of the Inter-urban railway car, my one recollection
of that trip was eating in a restaurant and sharing a piece of pie
with Mama. That was really living!
at our house was a weekly ordeal that began well before daybreak and
ended well after sundown. It took place in the "grainary".
Gallons and gallons of water had to be boiled on top of the coal stove
and everything had to be rinsed in boiling water. I had to cut up
bars of Fels Naphtha soap into thing slices which had to dissolve
in the water. The primitive washing machine, although operated by
an electric motor from underneath, sounded like a threshing machine.
Mama wasn't satisfied with the job the washing machine did on some
clothes which left many pieces to be scrubbed on the washboard. We
had what seemed like about 13 miles of clothes lines and the washing
covered every inch of it. While hanging out the clothes with Golda,
I remember us singing a popular singing radio commercial that went:
"Socks! Socks! We're the Interwoven pair. Billie Jones and Ernie
Hair Now we're coming on the air! Socks! Socks!...etc. Etc.
kept us all fed, clothed, is a source of great wonder to me. She collected
rags for rugs, made quilts and sold them for next to nothing. Instead
of mailing out the water bills at 2 cents per bill, some of my brothers
and sisters would deliver them and be paid 2 cents for each card delivered.
Two cents was worth something in those days. Another contract that
we all hated was that of cleaning cemetery lots in early summer. This
was before the cemetery was transformed into the beautiful place it
is now. The cemetery was divided into small lots about 15 or 20 square
feet. At lunch time we used to sit under the lilac bushed to eat our
I was the
Rhubarb King of American Fork. We had a row of rhubarb that grew like
crazy. Mama and I would package a wagon load of five and ten-cent
bunches and I would canvas our section of town. I usually sold the
as I can figure it, from the City Council minutes quoted in the History
of American Fork by George F. Shelly, Mama was the City Treasurer
of American Fork from 1925 to 1935. She never campaigned for the job.
Seems like the folks knew she could do the job and needed it so they
just kept electing her time after r time It might also be that the
job only paid $18.75 a month. Sometime later, it was raised to the
astronomical figure of $35.00 a month. I think she reached the age
where she was eligible for an old age pension. I'm not sure...
include the following chapter in this recollection because I think
it should be told. I don't have all the facts...just the gist of the
matter. When I was a sub-teen, a local widower named Harry Chipman
started to pay court to Mama. He was quite well off in a modest way...a
sheep man primarily. He was tolerable good looking in a craggy sort
of way and wore rather thick glasses. The quaint thing about him was
that when he came to visit Mama, he would bring, among other things,
a dozen eggs! He knew of Mama,s circumstances and was a practical
man. When he died, he left some kind of stipend to Mama. However,
his relatives(including maybe Delbert and Ora Chipman and others)
aided by none other than Clifford E. Young Sr. And their attorney
contested Mama,s entitlement to the amount willed to her. It meant
nothing to Mama, of course, even though she sure could have used it.
But in so doing, this family group through their attorney, misrepresented
Mama's position, making it appear that she was some kind of culprit.
Mama brought it to Uncle Clif(Tolboe's) attention and when he saw
what was going on, he was furious and hired an attorney to set matters
straight. The actions of these upstanding pillars of the church was
displicable, but simply demonstrates that greed and selfishness are
universal. This branch of the Chipman family, like most everyone else
in American Fork, knew that Mama was widely loved and respected and
yet they stooped to that level for the sake of a small token of an
old man's high regard for your Grandmother. I am sorry that I failed
to get the facts from Clif while he was alive. If I were rich, I would
look into it and learn the facts in the matter, and expose them, even
though they're dead. However, God knows about it and "vengeance
is the Lords."
that after I've mailed this letter, other memories will come to mind.
It is my greatest desire to write a rambling chronological account
of my life, solely for the edification and enjoyment of my family...and
myself. I've had a great life and even if it should end tomorrow,
I shall be grateful for every moment of it.
like to be at the reunion this year and will try to make it. The only
possible reason for not making it(apart from the worst one I can think
of!) would be Betty's condition, which at present is pretty good.
gone to sleep in my bed in the 'Granary' many a night to Mama's voice
humming one of her favorite hymns, to the accompaniment of the old
Singer Treddle Sewing Machine. I don't remember her going to bed before
I did but when I awoke everything was neat and tidy.
of Grandma start I believe, with a feeling of safety and peace that
I always felt when I was in her home. Her house was always cool in
the summer and very warm in the winter - a safe place where I always
knew I was loved and wanted. I remember the two big rocking chairs
and the wall heater in the living room. As a small child, the rockers
seemed to envelope me. I would sit and rock in front of that old wall
heater and look at the picture of the little girl who had fallen asleep
lying against her big dog. Before long in the warmth and comfort of
Grandma's house, I too, would be asleep. I loved to play Chinese Checkers
with Grandma. We would sit in those old rocking chairs with the Chinese
Checkers board between us on our knees. Grandma had to have the white
marbles because she couldn't see the black ones very well. I wasn't
very good at the game, but sometimes Grandma would let me win. Then
I would put the marbles back in the old pharmacy can and I would put
the can and board back in Grandma's bedroom closet.
Grandma always smelled so good. I can't quite put my finger on what
she smelled like - she just smelled like Grandma. She had a tin of
old beads - necklaces and such that were out of style - that she saved
for grandchildren to play with. I remember sitting in the little settee
in the corner of her living room by the bookshelf and playing for
hours with these beautiful "treasures". I remember them
smelling like Grandma, even though she probably hadn't worn them for
years. I thought they were wonderful. There are so many memories that
I could write. It seems like only yesterday that I was there with
Grandma in her big kitchen. She would fix cinnamon-sugar toast and
we would sit at her round table and have a snack. I think one of my
fondest memories, though, is of Grandma at her sewing machine. She
would sit at her treadle sewing machine and sing church hymns while
she sewed strips of fabric together for the rugs she made. Mom would
bring the strips home to our house and Kent and I would sit in the
backroom and wind them into huge balls. Then Mom would take Grandma
and the balls of fabric to the weavers who would make them into rugs
for Grandma to sell. Grandma taught me to sew at that old sewing machine.
When I was about five years old, she gave me some wool scraps and
a few buttons and then very patiently showed me how to hold the needle
and go up and down with the thread. She showed me how to sew on buttons.
My stitches weren't as neat and tiny as hers, but I was very proud
of my accomplishment and so was Grandma. I still have that first "quilt".
Grandma's quilts were wonderful. I remember her round-top trunk in
the backroom that was filled with pieced tops waiting to be quilted.
I also remember the stacks and stacks of pieces that she had already
cut for those quilts she wanted to piece someday. Grandma was quite
elderly by the time I came along, and she didn't do as much quilting
as she once did, but I remember a few quilting bees held in her living
room on hot summer days. While the adult women quilted, Kathleen and
I played dolls under the quilt. It was like our little hideout.
Since I was the youngest granddaughter, I got in on lots of parties
for birthdays, etc. I also got in on the housecleaning. Mom and Aunt
Doris and Aunt Moselle and Aunt Luella would go to Grandma's house
every so often to do some deep cleaning. I was too little to do anything
very heavy but I wanted to help. On one such cleaning trip, I guess
Grandma noticed that I was feeling a bit left out. She brought a can
with an oiled rag from the kitchen and asked me if I would like a
very special job. She took me to the corner what-not shelf in the
living room. The shelf was filled with all kinds of treasures that
she had collected over the years and which for as many of my five
years of life that I could remember, I had wished to touch, but my
Mom had always warned against such action. You can imagine my surprise
and delight as Grandma said she knew that I was a big enough girl
now to take everything off the shelf and dust the shelf and all it's
contents and then put everything back without breaking anything. I
worked all afternoon on that what-not shelf. And I remember what praise
I received from Grandma when I was finished. My Mom inherited that
what-not shelf from Grandma and I in turn inherited it from her. It
stands now in my living room full of treasures that I have collected
over the years, some that I even got from Grandma. And every time
I dust it, I think of Grandma and how proud she was of a little five
year old girl.
There are so many memories - I can't possibly write them all. I remember
the bouncy bed in the backroom, the log cabin part of the house (I
used to tell all of my friends that my grandmother actually lived
in a log cabin!), the big old barn out back with the huge doors, the
pink flowering almond bush just outside the kitchen door, the cellar
with all the spiders. I remember all the Christmases - the parties
at the Lehi Riding Club, the Hokey Pokey, the tiny Christmas tree
Grandma had every year (she saved the icicles from year to year in
a little ball), and all the relatives that would be at Grandma's house
on Christmas Day. But the thing I remember most about Grandma is the
love. I knew, even at a young age, that she had lots and lots of grandchildren,
and that I was only one of many. And even though I always knew that
Grandma loved us all the same, when I was with Grandma, she had
a way of making me feel that I was the most special child in the whole
world. Grandma was a lady, always dainty, refined, quiet. She was
spiritual, kind, loving. And the legacy of love that she has left
for us will continue for generations to come
As a child,
I knew that Grandma Cunningham had to be the world's best Chinese
Checker player. Each of us kids would take her on, with the shouts
and yells of the Three Stooges as a back drop. One by one, Grandma
would wipe each of us off the board. At eight years of age, I knew
Grandma C. Was a genius.
our annual trips to see Grandma C. We little Cunninghams had great
times. Despite the fact that there was a total of eight of us visiting,
Grandma took everything in stride. Grandma was gracious, sweet, and
never seemed to lose patience with us.
meal at Grandma's house was breakfast, because she shared the bounty
of her fruit cellar with us. I remember going to retrieve fruit for
Grandma. On the porch, I would lift the heavy , big door from the
floor and descend into the dark recesses of the cellar. Pulling the
light on, I'd keep a sharp eye open for possible spiders lurking in
hidden in hidden corners. There on the shelves were rows and rows
of gleaming jars of fruit - testimony of Grandma's hard work. Grabbing
a few jars, I'd turn off the light and race up the stairs, hoping
nothing would catch me on the way to daylight and safety. Then Grandma
would open her wonderful peaches and serve them along with buttery
in a while Grandma would open her "magic" chest for us.
Inside were porcelain dolls from a time we were too young to have
experienced. How different these dolls were from my plastic dolls!
Each doll had a felling of age and history to it. We dressed Grandma's
dolls up in the beautiful, hand- made dresses, but we were very careful.
Somehow we knew these dolls were special to Grandma.
present Grandma gave me, of source, was my dad! Her wonderful traits
were re-lived through Dad - selflessness, kindness, gentleness, and
the willingness to do sacrificial hard work for others - especially
for the family.
I am blessed
to have come from the roots of a person like Grandma Cunningham. Hopefully
her traits will live on in each of us!
(oldest daughter of Mack Cunningham)
thankful for the memories I have of Grandma "Jennie" Cunningham.
I remember her as a kind, welcoming woman with an expression of quiet
humor, patience & wisdom. My visits at Grandmas house were filled
with things like exploring the house, cellar, and yard, enjoying make-believe
with Grandma's dolls, eating wonderful meals and playing lively games
of Chinese Checkers,(And she didn't always just let us win!)
back, I am impressed by the way Grandma was able to make each grandchild
feel especially respected and loved. Having now raised some children
of my own, I'm very proud of the heritage she left us - she modeled
for us faithful and sacrificial mothering, while keeping her great
sense of humor as well as a strong faith in God. I would be delighted
if my children and grandchildren could see some of Grandma in me!
has been telling me I should be sending you my memories about Grandma
Cunningham, but I never received any form letter like I was supposed
to so he said just send you a few lines. Hope I'm not to late!
don't remember much about Grandma as she passed away when I was in
grammar school and we only visited once a year or two. I guess that's
always going to be my fate as the youngest child of the youngest child.
I do remember
looking forward to going to Grandma's as she would always get a box
or suitcase out of her closet that contained an old doll with clothes
for me to play with. And we also got to use her board games while
there. I particularly remember learning to play Chinese Checkers.
went down into some sort of larder that was nice and cool and kind
going to the funeral but not many of the details about it - just my
Dad's tears which I had never seen before.
was a neat lady. I've always been sorry I didn't know her better.
We'll have to get re-acquainted in heaven some day.
(Dolly) Cunningham Caldwell