Friday, October 14, 2011

Peg leg, coins and taffy for the kids

Garnette Remembers Her Grandma and Grandpa French

James French (1884-1972) and Catherine “Dollie” Oiler French (1886-1965)
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Peg leg, coins and taffy for the kids

His name was James but everyone knew him as "Jim". He had a peg leg because once, while trying to jump on a moving train to catch a ride to Welch, he fell and lost his leg when the train ran over it. Jumping trains was a common form of transportation in those days as most people did not have a car or a horse.
He always saved his change. His joy was, on the weekend, he would sit near the roadside in front of his home with the change in a pan. When the children would come around, he would let them pick 3 or 4 coins to keep. He would tell them to pick what they wanted or needed. They would never take the dimes but would take the pennies and nickels instead because they were bigger.  So he never ran out of change because he could cash in the dimes that the children left, for nickels and pennies for the next weekend. The children would hug him and maybe even get to touch his wooden peg leg. They were very sympathetic to him because of the tragic loss of his leg. He did this every Saturday morning that I can remember.
Grandma French would occasionally make taffy and would invite all the local kids to come and help (some of the adults wanted to help as well). They would tug and pull the taffy as it cooled from the stove and the more they worked it, the more solid it would become and when the batch was done, they could all take some home with them.
These are things that the couple did as they aged to keep in touch and to help the children in the neighborhood.  Such was their generosity and kindness.
I think this had much to do with the compassion for children that developed in me as I watched and learned this from my grandparents.

-This from a conversation with his granddaughter, Garnette French Green

*1920 Census  Jackson, Ohio shows James as Coal miner and Dollie Keeping house
** As I was growing up, my parents were always active with the youth of the church that so much a part or our lives. There was always some event or party or an outing that was coming up. Now, thinking back, I can hardly remember a time that this was not so. And now I can see where this all started with my Mom watching her grandparents helping the children in their neighborhood.

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