Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tom Nutt Goes to California

by Pa Rock
Family Historian

Today's posting is for my twelve-year-old grandson, Boone.  We were talking over the telephone last Sunday and Boone was telling me about his periodic visits with his maternal great-grandmother, Ireme Olive (Tippee) Christerson.  Boone is very patient and will sit and listen for long periods of time - even  to old people.  He also knew another great-grandparent - my dad, Garland Eugene Macy - who passed away when Boone was ten.  Somewhere during  our conversation on Sunday, he suddenly asked, "Hey, Pa Rock, do you remember any of your great-grandparents?"

Only three of my great-grandparents were alive when I was born, both of my dad's grandmothers and his maternal grandfather.  One of his grandmothers, Etta Orvilla (Griffith) Nutt, died in the summer of 1950 when I was two-years-old, and the other grandmother, Louella (Pritchard) Macy passed away in the summer of 1954 when I was six.  Most of the relatives called her Granny Pritchard, and when my mother felt that my little sister, Gail, was getting too bossy, she would refer to her as "Miss Pritchard!"

I have no memory of Etta, and only a vague recollection of Louella.  I remember that Louella smoked a pipe and she would sit in our kitchen smoking her pipe and visiting while my mom did household chores.  Mom complained long after Louella's death about how mad she would get because Louella would strike her wooden matches on the bottom of our kitchen table in order to light her pipe - leaving long, black marks that Mom felt obliged to clean.

Thomas Franklin Nutt was my dad's grandfather on his mother's side.  Grandpa Nutt died in 1958 at the age of eighty-eight.  He worked as a concrete finisher most of his life and helped to build the courthouse in Neosho, Missouri.

There is a bit of a family mystery with Grandpa Nutt.  He was born in Missouri in 1870 (according to information in the 1880 census records).  In 1880 he was living in the home of his grandparents, Henry and Celena (Rutledge) Nutt in Neosho, Missouri, where Henry was the town marshal.  To this day no one knows who his parents were, but the most likely scenario is that he was the illegitimate child of one of Henry and Celana's older daughters.

My grandmother, Hazel (Nutt) Macy told me years ago that Grandpa Nutt had told her that his father had gone out west with another man, and that the traveling companion eventually returned and said that Tom's dad had been killed by Indians.

But back to Boone's question:  Yes, I did know Tom Nutt fairly well.  In the summer of 1957 our family was piling into our old 1953 Chevrolet preparing to drive to California on vacation.  Just as we got everything loaded, my grand-aunt, Ethel Macy, a daughter of Tom's who had married another Macy, came pulling into the driveway with Grandpa Nutt in tow - where she announced that he would be riding to California with us so that he could spend some quality time with some of his other children - Bob Nutt, Earl Nutt, and Daisy (Nutt) Lindblad.  My mother was especially angry about Ethel's mandate and did a slow burn for 2,000 miles!

A Macy family vacation involved driving and driving and driving and finally unpacking with some relatives.  There was no money for motels, and we took much of what we ate from home.  When Dad and Mom were both  too tired to drive, they would find someplace to stop for a couple of hours and sleep in the car.  Gail and I were in the back seat, and we napped on either side of 87-year-old Grandpa Nutt!

But we were headed to California, and we damned near made it without a serious incident.  Somewhere in Arizona, however (Dad thought it was Tucson, but from studying a map I am more inclined to guess Yuma), Grandpa Nutt lost it and decided that he had been kidnapped.  He started swinging his cane at his abductors, hitting Gail and I - and I am sure my parents as well.  We wound up leaving him at some sort of hospital or rest home, and his son Bob had to drive out from Los Angeles and retrieve the confused and cantankerous old man.  When he finally got him back to Los Angeles, Grandpa Nutt started saying that my family had stolen his money.  It turns out that he had hidden his wallet in the facility where we had left him - and Bob had to drive to Arizona a second time where he was able to find Grandpa Nuttt's money.

It was a trip that I won't forget, and it is my clearest memory of Grandpa Tom Nutt.  He died in Neosho the following year.

Now I am wondering if my life will be that adventurous and interesting when my children start shuffling me from home to home in an effort to give each other quality time with their dad.  Start planning now kids - the time draws near!

The Obituary of Thomas F. Nutt from the Neosho Daily News on 15 May 1958: 

Thomas f. Nutt, Rt. 2, Neosho, died at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday at Sale Memorial Hospital after a four week illness.  He was born in Neosho and had lived here his entire life. 
Mr. Nutt was a concrete finisher.  His survivors included five daughters and three sons.  Mrs.  C.E. (Hazel) Macy, Rt. 3, Mrs. Jack (Ethel) Macy, Sr., Rt. 2, Mrs. Daisy Lindblad, Temple City, CA, Mrs. Ina Johnston, Winter Garden, Florida, Mrs. Mable Sour, Joplin, Robert, El Monte, CA, Earl, Riverside, CA, and Claude, Wichita, KS. 
Funeral services will be conducted from the Clark Funeral Home Chapel at 3:30 p.m. Saturday with burial in the Belfast Cemetery.

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