04) Emma


             
                                
 
 

 

Emma and Frank (Rev. II)

 

 

By: Romaine M.(Mike) Goins, David Sloan, Louis Clark

 

Writing about my Grandmother is not so easy. She was the only Grandmother I knew, but I don’t know enough about her to make an entertaining story. This is an attempt to write stories I heard as a child and a few memories of the times I spent with her. If a cousin thinks something other than what I write, they can correct it if they like, its ok with me. There aren’t so many left now to offer dispute and if they aren’t written down the stories will be “not”

 One day somebody might be glad. But then again, what do I know?

Emma Claire Merrick was raised with two brothers Romaine and Anson in a gingerbread house in Walhalla, South Carolina. Her father, Anson Cummings Merrick, built the house and was considered “gentry” by the town’s people. On the side yard was a large crape myrtle tree where all the children played and adjacent to the tree was a trellis where Muscatine vines and, when in season, one could eat their fill.

She was a graduate of Converse College in Spartanburg S.C. when not many women received an education. She was a good student and an athlete. Ms. Felicia Henry has a picture of Emma and two playmates having a good time playing “leap-frog.” She had her front tooth knocked sideways, thereafter causing a close-lipped smile. Converse was also a “finishing school” where students were taught the manners and decorum expected of a “Southern Lady” There is a picture of Emma and a cousin on the back of a float in a parade where Emma won 1st place and the prize was $10.00 which I suppose is worth about $10,000 today. She must have been considered a handsome woman at the start of the Century.

In 1904 she married Dr, Bayless Frank Sloan MD, and through that union produced ten children. There still exist letters from Frank to Mr. Merrick requesting the “hand “of his daughter, and Mr. Merrick's consenting reply. Jerry and Beth Howell have the letters written in the quaint wording of that era.

To get a close idea of what Emma looked like and what she wore one only need look at “Aunt Bee” of”Mayberry “fame. After all, The Aunt Bee character was patterned after sophisticated ladies of that age. I never saw Emma without the high heel flats and stockings. I understand that she wore a corset everyday of her life. The running of the  Sloan household was aided by a Afro-American named Pearl Green who worked, oversaw, and became one with the Sloan’s for 30 something years. Pearl was a “proxy” mother to them all and for many years, when they were in town, a few of the Sloan Children would pay a social call on Pearl until she died. Usually slip her a $20!

Emma and Doc raised ten children and were reasonably happy until Dr. Sloan was called into World War 1 and served in France. He became familiar with trench warfare and received a charge of “Mustard Gas.” for which he was awarded a “Purple Heart”. Emma kept the medal on his picture for the rest of her life. While in France, Frank’s chief nurse was named “Nanette”. Her dedication and devotion to the doctor was so appreciated that he gave the first female child born to Emma after his return the same name. Emma must have been an understanding person.

Franks Father, Paul Earle Hamilton Sloan was a Doctor in the War Between the States. Paul E H  Sloan had a brother JBE Sloan who was a Colonel at fought at Ft. Sumter.

Dear Mr. Sloan,

>>>> In response to your telephone request, I have found that

>>>> B. F. Sloan is listed with the graduates in the class of 1900.

>> As a student he is listed as being from Clemson, SC

>>>> Paul H. E. Sloan from Pendleton, SC graduated in the class of

>> 1859.  This thesis is entitled "Enteric Fever."  We also have

>> Dr. Paul Sloan's diploma and a letter from Francis T. Miles to P. H. E.

>> Sloan dated 16 June 1864.

 

I found a note with the diploma which says that Paul H. E. Sloan was the brother of Col. J. B. E. Sloan.  Dr. P. H. E. Sloan practiced in Pendleton until Clemson College was founded and then went there and was Secretary-Treasurer.  Retired at age 80.

 

 

Frank would make his rounds or house call’s in a horse and buggy always accompanied with a small black and white terrier dog. I never got anybody to tell me the dog’s name. Eventually, Frank brought a car and was supposed to be the first person in Walhalla to own one. He taught Emma to drive and when the years passed and the bureaucracies determined that everyone should have a license, she was sent hers in the mail. She never took a driving test her whole life.

        In the old house that Emma’s Father built was a receiving area just inside the front door, or a place for visitors who were not guest. In this area was an old Grandfathers clock which is probably valuable today as it had the real pendulum and weights that one had to reset once a week. Against the wall was a piano which Emma could play what ever she wanted but she insisted that she had little talent. She played for her grandchildren one time an old song from the War Between the States called, “just before the battle Mother”

        “Just before the battle Mother, I was thinking most of you,

        Comrades all around me lying with the enemy in view

 

One must remember that being borne in 1880 that memories of the conflict were fresh to Emma’s parents and grand parents, and therefore were a part of her paradigm as well.

The old house always smelled of tobacco, either Lucky strikes (cigarette for women) or Bay rum that the men used in their pipes. I don’t remember Emma ever smoking. If she did you can be sure it was in private.

I remember Emma letting my brother Bobby and I watch her give herself and insulin injection for diabetes right above her knee, but no other man except Frank ever saw so much. Her son-in-law used to joke that Emma was the only woman who could birth 10 children and not acknowledge knowing anything about how it came about.

I don't remember much about Emma but I do remember Emma setting on the side of the bed and giving her self insulin shots with a glass needle taken from a little black box.

Also, when she came to see us, she always had her hat and gloves with her …. On arrival she would open up her bag and ask me "would you like to see a monkey?" Then she would take out a little mirror and hold it up so I could see my self!!  David Sloan

 

One day she told my brother and I,

“Bobby and Mike, go to the back yard quick, Uncle Romaine is going to kill a chicken for dinner.”

Bobby and I arrived just after Uncle had caught one, and with a hatchet, swiftly chopped of its head. I’ll admit to you being slightly squeamish, and if I knew, I don’t think I would have gone and watched. Then with a smirk and Celtic humor Uncle Romaine tossed the decapitated chicken towards us and we watched wild eyed as the Chickens headless body hopped around splattering blood everywhere. When the chicken stopped this display, Uncle Main took the carcass around to Pearl who had a tub of boiling water. She dunked the chicken in the water and pulled the feathers off. The smell, along with the memory of the chickens shocked eyes, caused my hunger for fried chicken to disappear for a few days. That was one of the chickens that Bobby and I fed and from which we retrieved the eggs only the day before.

One day while we were visiting, Emma said,

“Bobby, You and Mike take the dead bird out of the fireplace and bury him out in the yard, while I’m going to a funeral.”

I remember asking Bobby, “What’s a funeral?”

“It’s when they cover dead people up with dirt, Stupid!”

Removing the spark screen we saw the unfortunate animal laying there. It was interesting that every once n a while the bird would quiver and shake, as it was not completely dead. Bobby took the square fireplace shovel and scooped the bird up and gingerly balanced the body outside without dropping it on the rug. Once outside we didn’t know where to bury it. Just like the rocket scientist we were, we finally settled on the crushed stone driveway and dug a hole. In short order Bobby says,

“You take a turn”

After much labor we had a hole I think about 4 inches deep which is a pretty good effort in compacted stone. He put the bird in the hole and covered it up. Only thing wrong, the bird wiggled himself almost out of it. Following our genetic instincts, Bobby took a mighty slap with the shovel on top of the “grave” and the bird was still. We were wondering what to do next when Aunt Sara, who I thought was our prettiest aunt, drove up in one of those old cars that had the starter on the floorboard. She asks,

“Hi, Bobby and Mike, what are you doing?”

I volunteered “buried the bird” with a clarifying point of my finger. Only thing, I was so young that few could understand me and I guess it came out “burred th brd” She made me repeat it a couple of times. I was getting nervous as Bobby was letting me carry the ball and I was unsure that we hadn’t done something wrong. Finally the bird flicked so much stone that Sara noticed and said with consternation, “both of you go back to the house”. I guess she uncovered the bird, I really don’t remember.

Anyway, our uncle Paul who was about 17 or 18 came home and Sara got him to do a better job. I was just glad to have the pressure off.

I remember finally getting a TV and we all were watching “the Hit Parade” with Snooky Lansen. ( I have wondered at the nature of a man who would allow other men to call them Snooky. Someone decided for me that I would be “Mike” instead of “Romaine”). I enjoyed for the most part listening to the music. The Hit parade was given its death knell with the invention of rock and roll. I didn’t like the “wonnerfall wonnerfall Lawrence Welk” but all the grown ups did, especially Emma. Daddy took her to see him when he came to Charlotte one time, but Emma wouldn’t get up and dance with Lawrence in spite of all my fathers’ insistence.

I remember a wind up telephone just like “Sara” on Andy griffin but nobody could talk on it. It was a “party line”. Emma’s oldest boy Frank Jr. lived with her all of his life. He was socially crippled with polio when he was a child but he graduated from Clemson so he wasn’t dumb. He was always sort of left out. He wasn’t fond of shaving and always had a pipe full of bay rum tobacco.

I remember one year in the fifties, when we were visiting, my mother and two of her sisters were concerned that Emma had mailed her drivers license back to the local government. “But Why”, questioned Nannette with mild alarm. Emma replied with a somewhat sad expression,

“Oh, it doesn’t matter, Frank can take me where ever I want to go, and besides, I get so tired of everybody blowing their horn at me!.

Ever since then folks, when I see some old “grey head” bifocaling over the steering wheel in usually their blue Buick, I have a hard time blowing the horn at them, even though they probably need it.


 The Sloan home in Walhalla

 


Return to top --> 4) Emma

Return to            http://www.walhalla.co

Comments