Sunday, July 12, 2009

Grandpa Swain

This post is for me... just to put my thoughts down.

The past couple of days I've been quiet and my thoughts have wandered... This time to my Grandpa Swain. Grandpa was born George William Perry Swain on 18 February 1881. He went by Perry, but his mail was addressed to G.W. Swain.

I am into genealogy and I have tried to document Grandpa as much as I can. In one census I had a hard time finding him. The transcriber for the index had misread the initials G. W. to something else that I can't remember now. In a census or two before he married Grandma I cannot find him. He was mostly raised by his Aunt Georgia Ann Paul and she too is missing in the censuses in some years. I often wonder if the census taker just did not find them home or they had traveled to Florida or another state.

Grandpa's mother, Martha Jane Womble Swain, is said to have gone crazy and threw Grandpa in the river when he was small. I cannot find what happened to her. There is no obituary, grave or bible record of her that I can find after Grandpa's birth. My cousin checked the area mental hospitals and she was not there either.

Grandpa and Grandma married 15 February 1906. Grandma was born Annie Hogan on 06 December 1888.

This photo was taken in their early years together.

Grandpa (Perry) and Grandma (Annie) Swain

This photo was taken in their later years together.

Grandpa (Perry) and Grandma (Annie) Swain

The latter photo is how I remember my grandparents... yes, Grandpa in his stocking feet. Grandpa was about 6 feet tall and Grandma about 5 feet tall.

They had eleven children together and all but one made it to adulthood.

In August of 1961 Grandpa had had several small strokes and a deadly stroke was soon to follow. It was a hot day, 27 August 1961 and there was no air conditioning in their small home in Rebecca Georgia when the fatal stroke happened. So much of the family was gathered there. The moment he died all the clocks in the house were stopped and there was crying.... I was among those crying. I was ten years old when Grandpa passed away.

I can't remember now if it was the same day or the day before Grandpa passed. My sister and I were by Grandpa's bed with Mama. We talked with Grandpa. Grandpa told me and my sister how pretty we looked in the dresses that Mama had made us. We each got a hug and a kiss from Grandpa.

This is me in my school photo later in the year. I'm wearing the dress Mama made me. My sister's dress was the same but in a pink print. My hair wasn't that reddish and my teacher combed my hair back and not to the side like I normally combed it. School pictures meant you got a new comb which I usually lost within a few days.

Me... 10 Years Old

I believe it was the night before Grandpa passed away me and my four siblings spent the night at Mama's sister's home, but it could have been earlier. The bedroom was large and several beds were in there. I can't remember now if all five of us were in the one bedroom... it might have been just me, my sister and three girl cousins. It was a hot August night and the windows were open. I don't remember there being a fan. I do remember mosquitoes. I had to keep the sheet pulled up.. hoping to fend off the mosquitoes. There were also fireflies flying around the room. I don't remember sleeping much that night. I do remember the room being lit up with fireflies and swatting mosquitoes... and scratching their bites.

I used to at least have one weird dream a year with my Grandpa in it. We were in an attic... one tall enough to walk upright in, which I know of no one in the family having such an attic. I am a little girl... maybe six or so. I'm playing with dolls all by myself. There is a very large trunk in the attic. It suddenly opens and there is Grandpa! I'm happy to see him. He closes the lid of the trunk and he cradles me in his arms. Then he sits upon the trunk and I sit in his lap and her starts reading a book to me. I have no idea what the book was about.

When I was in my mid twenties the dreams stopped. Now I only think of the dream sometimes... wondering if it had a meaning.

Grandpa had a dome-top steamer trunk. Mama has it now. The trunk in my dream was much larger.and did not have a dome-top. I do remember sitting in Grandpa's lap as child.. but I'm not sure he read to me.

Grandpa was a farmer, barber and cemetery groundskeeper... and probably wore a few other hats. The cemetery back then was mostly sand. Gopher tortoises dug many holes in the cemetery destroying graves. There were some old wooden markers that Grandpa and Daddy would go along and straighten. The wooden markers are gone now and a lot of the graves are lost to time.

When we would visit on a hot summers day we might get taken to the church's baptismal pool that was located in the woods... not far from the river. I remember doing this only once and it was so nice having Grandpa helping me out of the water.

When my mind wanders to Grandpa I often wonder why I can't remember more of him. There is a memory of him drinking his coffee from his saucer. The cup and saucer shook as he pour coffee into the saucer... sometimes clanking together. A memory of driving down Slappey Drive here in Albany. He never heard a road like that... one that produced a clacking sound when driven over. Slappey used to be a concrete road and the seams made the clacking sound when driven over... I've been on some interstates that sound a bit like it. Now the road is tarred and no sound of the clacking.

So I have put my thoughts down. They jump as my thought do all the time. Sometimes the thoughts get so jumbled :-)

I am not depressed or down... I am in a quiet place, a place of peace.

At Grandpa's funeral the preacher from our church sang How Great Thou Art. It was a song that I loved to hear when George Beverly Shea sang it when I was a child watching Billy Graham crusades on tv. Elvis sang this song well and so have many others.



  1. I enjoyed your memories Zaroga - so very many details remind me of my "foster" grandpa. He drank his coffee from a saucer and his hands shook real bad. Isn't it funny that as nine/ten year olds, we remember those kinds of details? You have some wonderful pictures here. This is a great way to keep good records and I love to hear GBS sing.

  2. Hi Zaroga, I have used the neighbors name to find people in census. I have yet to find the parents of my great grandpa Robert Adkins. He slipped through the 1980 or 70 I can not remember which one was lost . I only found him as a married person. With the knowledge of native American being kept a secret by my Grandma. I wonder if he is the Indian. As he is unknown to all the Adkins history. It is my assumption that he took her last name. My mom said he looked like a foreigner to her.
    He was diffrent. She was nieve.
    Sorry don't know how to spell the word. I asked if he looked Indian. She said maybe now that she is an adult.

  3. Wow! you do have a lot of memories. I think it's nice that you wrote them down to preserve them. Maybe your should write a book or journal of all your memories.

  4. Hi Zaroga,

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on your blog for all of us to see. I loved reading about your grandparents. They looked so sweet. Maybe the dream of your grandfather popping out of the trunk was really him visiting a way. :) He missed you perhaps? :)

    I started doing Geneology a bit. My brother did most of our family on my father's side. We had one mean guy on that side named Mean Joe. Lol! He was killed in a bar fight. It was interesting reading about our relatives, though. I think my brother was able to g WAY back into the 1400's!

    Hope you had a wonderful weekend!

    Lots of hugs...

    Michelle :)

  5. What a wonderful memory you have. I loved reading about your Grandpa listening to the music. Love the photos and I always enjoy coming to visit you. I would love to sit across the table with a cup of coffee and listen to your stories in person.

  6. Very touched by your memories of your grandfather. He was obviously a special man.

    My dad used to drink his tea out of a saucer. I used to think he was the only one to ever do that. Nice to know he had good company

  7. My Papa used to drink from his saucer and every time Bruce at church sings the song [URL=]"I'm Drinking from My Saucer ('cause my cup has overflowed)"[/URL] I remember this.


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