Carry Me Back to Old Virginny

This week, I’m traveling between North Carolina and Virginia to do a series of lectures. Since my mother’s side of the family is an old Virginia family, I’ll be posting this week about family stories. If this bores you to death, come back next week, we’ll be back to design. Otherwise, I’ve got courage, lies, death, murder, and love affairs to cover.

My grandmother, Janice Ann Booker Flint, was one tough cookie. On the surface, she couldn’t be more genteel. She spoke in a slow Virginia drawl, and was always reminding me that men should always seat a women facing out at a restaurant, or it was tasteless to monogram too many things, or a life without service was not a life. She dressed in pastels and liked large hats. This, however, was the same woman who, at 15, had homesteaded in Aspen with only her mother. For her entire life, she believed her father had died in an elevator accident in Chicago in 1914. After she died, we learned that he had actually simply walked out and lived the rest of his life in Florida.

She learned to shoot, and claimed she was the only woman in the valley to shoot a bear. She raised three daughters by herself, but never seemed to work. There was a rumor that she worked in a brassier factory for a week during the war, otherwise she wrote poetry. She wasn’t the type of grandmother who made cookies. In fact, I never saw her cook anything. Our great Aunt Weegie (a nickname) did all the cooking and cleaning and stayed with my grandmother from 1935 until she died in 1988.

My grandmother taught me that people were contradictory, and you could definitely follow your own path. I inherited her white and wavy hair, features, and hopefully graciousness.