Memories of

John Ross and Mary Lamb Alexander

Source: Thelma Alexander Hughes, by way of Joel Frazier, <joel422 @ yahoo . com>



October, 1980

Perhaps some of you never had the opportunity of knowing our Grandfather and Grandmother Alexander. They were descendants of brave, courageous people, they lived in a time when life was hard, they had little of this worlds goods, they raised a large family and some how managed to keep them clothed and fed.

I never knew them when they were young, to me they were always old. When they were almost ninety, Grandmother decided they could no longer live alone, so they broke up housekeeping and came to live with us in West Texas, they would stay with us in summer and go back to Burnet in winter, where they would stay with Uncle Ed and Aunt Alice Alexander.

Having grandparents live with you is quite an experience. They had their own ideas about how things should be done and nothing could change them. I don't know what they did when they were young, but in old age Grandmother made all the important decisions, some times they would have quite an argument, but she always won in the end. She was a tiny little thing, and looked like a dresden doll, you would never expect her to have such a strong will. She was the mother of ten children, two of them were twins, two died when they were small children. She raised eight children, four boys and four girls.

Grandfather wasn't a very tall man, he had piercing black eyes, but as far back as I can remember his hair was thin and gray and he wore a short gray beard.

While they lived with us he would spend many hours sitting in his rocking chair on the front porch, smoking his pipe, talking to no one, what his thoughts were we never knew, most likely he was living in the past. Ever so often Grandmother would decide his face needed a good washing, so she would get him out on the porch in a good light. Seated in a kitchen chair, and with a pan of hot water, a bar of soap and a wash cloth, she would proceed to give his face and ears a good cleaning, and then she would carefully trim his beard and hair. He looked so clean and scrubbed when she finished.

Once in a while she would decide he should have a bath. On bath night we would get the outside chores done early. After supper a kettle of water was put on the cook stove to heat, and the big wash tub was brought in the bedroom. Chairs were placed around the tub and bed sheets were draped over the chairs for privacy. Grandmother, with my father assisting, would proceed to give him a bath. Grandfather would meekly submit to this outrage, but he wasn't happy about it, he could see no need for a bath when he didn't do anything to get dirty.

Grandfather had no confidence in a bank, in his opinion it was a good place to lose your money. If you put money in a bank you might never see it again so he kept what little money he had in a little tin tobacco box in his vest pocket. One night we saw him out in the yard with a flash light searching for something. Father went out to inquire what he was looking for, he had lost the tim box with his money. Father persuaded him to come in and we would find it in the morning. He was very reluctant to give up the search and he was up early next morning and soon found it.

Grandfather received a small old age pension from the state. When his check came he would go to town with Father and cash it at the bank. Then the money was placed in the little tin box for safe keeping. He never bought anything except chewing tobacco and tobacco to smoke in his pipe.

One time he and father were preparing to go to town in Father's little Model T Ford, it was about twenty miles to town where we went to buy groceries, Grandfather enjoyed that little trip and didn't want to miss it. On this particular day Grandmother laid out the clothes she intended for him to wear. He always wore a vest, he had a sunday vest and a everyday vest. His everyday vest was about worn out, it was split wide open in the back, but he still liked to wear it. Grandmother laid out a clean shirt, his sunday pants and vest. He put on the shirt and pants, buy put the everyday vest back on. Grandmother said, "you can't wear that old vest split down the back " he informed her he was not going to town looking like a fool wearing his sunday vest. She told him he would have to stay at home then, and not go to town, he stomped out on the porch, set down in the rocking chair and rocked furiously for a few minutes. I guess he thought he had to get his check cashed, so he went back in and said, "where did you put the vest?" He put it on and went off to town looking like a fool wearing his sunday vest.

Grandfather and Grandmother had been gone many, many years when this article was written by their granddaughter, Thelma Alexander Hughes.




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