Friday, March 2, 2012

A Few Notes from Aunt Mary

by Pa Rock
Family Scribe

My Aunt Mary is one of the sweetest people in the world.  She is eighty-something years old and lives in a retirement community in San Diego, California, the city that she has called home for over sixty years.  Aunt Mary married my dad's older brother, Wayne Macy, just after World War II and they relocated to beautiful southern California from southwest Missouri.  They had two daughters, Janet and Linda, who both still live in the San Diego area.  Uncle Wayne died from leukemia in the 1950's, and though the family connection was technically broken with his passing, Mary was, is, and always will be my dear aunt.

I wrote to Aunt Mary a couple of months ago after mentioning in this blog that my mother and father were migrant farm workers in California during a couple of summers after the war.  I asked her to share any memories that she had of my parents during that time.  She responded with a little bit about that, and gave me some anecdotes about my parents and grandparents (Charles "Chock" and Hazel Macy) as well.  Those stories follow.

About the migrant fruit pickers:

"Yes, lots of people from the midwest went to California in the summer to pick fruit, nuts, etc.  Your Uncle Wayne would go to Brentwood and Porterville areas.  Peaches and apricots were in huge orchards.  There were camps set up for the "pickers" - tents, etc.  I was never there, but do remember them telling about it."

About my grandparents, Chock and Hazel Macy:

"Your Grampa Macy bought a car and wanted to learn to drive.  He had his brother Jack drive it home and out into a large field.  Chock got in and got it started but didn't know what to do next - so he kept going around in a circle yelling 'whoa, whoa!'  Finally he got it stopped and never tried again.  He stayed with the horse and buggy, or rode with friends."

"Your Gramma Macy was a worker.  She canned a lot of their fruit, mostly peaches and vegetables, and stored the jars under the beds.  They lived in a four-room house when I met them:  living room, two bedrrooms, and a kitchen.  There was an 'out-house for the toilet.  (Oh me!!!)  They had a smokehouse for curing a pig (or just smoking it)."  

"I grew up in Kansas City and had never seen or experienced the farm life.  I quickly found out it wasn't for me.  Hazel cooked on a large wood stove, swept the house to clean it, and washed on a washboard in a large metal washtub.  She killed, cleaned, and dressed chickens to take into Neosho to sell.  She did that to save money to buy Wayne a suit to wear."

About my parents:

"Wayne and I had  moved to California when your mother and dad got married (March 31, 1946), so I really can't say I knew Florine all that well.   I do know she was smart and a savvy businesswoman - and she said she wasn't going to get involved with the Macy problems. She told me that - not just hearsay.  She and your dad wanted to get ahead for a better life - and they did.  I remember your dad as always very kind and soft-spoken."

And here is a story of mine about Aunt Mary:

When my daughter, Molly, was preparing to marry her intended, Scott Files, a few years ago around Thanksgiving time, they were living in Oregon and wanted to have the wedding on a beach.  She got out her maps and selected Coronado Island (which really isn't an island) in San Diego - because it was about as far south as a person could go and still be in California.  The weather, hopefully, would be nicer than the dreariness of Oregon in November.

I had been to Coronado Island earlier that year and stayed at the beautiful del Coronado Hotel (the hotel that was used in the filming of the movie, Some Like It Hot.  When I learned that the wedding was to be on the beach behind the Del, I immediately phoned Aunt Mary to see if she would like to be my guest at the big event.  She gave and enthusiastic "yes," and I told Molly that I would be bringing a date.  Cousin Janet was also able to join us for the wedding.

At the reception following the wedding I called my dad back in Missouri so that he could wish the happy couple the best.  When I told him a few minutes later that Mary and Janet were there, he rushed me off the phone because he wanted to talk to them.  And they had a nice, long conversation.

Thank you Aunt Mary (Day, Macy) King for sharing your gems of family history.  I am placing them in this blog so that our descendants may enjoy them for years and years to come.  Much love to you!

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