More Voices From The PAst

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More Voices From The PAst
2017-02-02-17-43-10-1

Martha Smith Phillips

This piece was written by my Aunt Iva Bailey about her Grandmother Martha Smith Phillips in 1979. Although she said her grandmother moved to Wyoming as a baby she was older. The family moved to Wyoming around 1887 or 88, born in 1877, she would have been 10 or 11 when they moved. The family did live in Nebraska in 1885 and probably lived there about 2 years before moving to Wyoming. Her future husband’s family were their neighbors in Iowa and the families may have followed each other to Wyoming. Martha and Alex married Aug. 1, 1895 making them 18 and 28 not 17 and 27.

Grandma’s Are Nice
Grandma Martha Maria Phillips was not only my grandma, she was my friend, my playmate and after we lost my mother she was like a mother to me. It was to her I took a lot of my teen-age troubles as well as the happy things that happened during the teen-age years. Things that dads just don’t understand the importance of even if they are the best dad a girl could ever have.
Grandma Phillips was born in Iowa but moved with her parents to Iowa when she was a small baby. I guess she knew my grandfather all her life. Grandfather Alexander Phillips like to tell the story of how he fell in love with her as he pushed her baby carriage when she was a baby. Grandpa was 10 years older than grandma.  They were married when she was seventeen and he twenty- seven. She was always his Mattie and he her Allie.

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Mattie and her brother William I. Smith taken in Nebraska.

To grandma was born three children, two girls and a boy.  They were born at a time when parents were called mama and papa. Even we grandchildren called grandpa, Papa. Grandma told many times how lonesome it was for them after my mother married my dad and came to Washington to live.  She told me how happy they were when they knew they were to be grandparents. How they waited for the news of my birth, when they knew it was time.
I guess having my mother so far away and then a grandchild was too much for them so they packed up and came to Washington to live.
It seems to me the very first thing I can really remember was grandma telling me I had a baby brother. I was three years old then and I guess it was the most important thing to happen to me in my young life so it stayed in my memory.
Grandma was small, I don’t think she ever weighed much over a hundred pounds but she was full of energy. She taught me to jump rope and she jumped right along with me, even red-hot peppers.
Grandma had dark brown hair and brown eyes. In the early days her hair was long. Later on when short hair came into style she had it cut and then she would curl her hair with a curling iron she heated by putting it in the kerosene lamp.  This was before the electric curling irons we have today. She was very proud of her appearance and hated the wrinkles all grandmas are bound to get sooner or later. I remember coming home from school one day, to find mother, grandma and my aunt at our house. They all three had egg smeared all over their face and neck. It was partially dry and they looked terrible. Grandma explained to me it was a secret and I wasn’t to tell anyone. I thought it strange at the time but I suppose it worked as well as the stuff they sell for the same purpose today.

Grandma and Papa lived on a farm a few miles from our home but when my mother died, they moved in closer to us. It was nice to have them close by and not quite so lonesome.

No one could make apple pie like grandma. I can see Papa yet, sitting in a chair peeling and cutting up the apples while grandma made the crust, crust that would melt in your mouth. They had a wood stove and grandma knew just how much wood to put in to keep a fire that would bake a golden crust. I use to watch grandma make the crust and I would do everything she did but my pie crust never turned out like hers.

When I was married and moved to Bremerton, we went back to Puyallup as often as we could. Grandma and Papa loved seeing the great-grandchildren.

One day Papa was out mowing the lawn. He came in, sat down in the chair to rest, went to sleep and never woke up. It was a shock to all of us because he had always seemed so well.  He was 87 years old.  Grandma and Papa had always been so close. He had always taken care of her in sickness and in health. We were so afraid Grandma couldn’t live without him but she was stronger than we thought. Some of the sparkle went out of her brown eyes but she seemed to enjoy life and her family.

As she grew older she seemed to live more and more in the past but she loved having her great-grandchildren and by now her great great- grandchildren around her.

She never forgot I was her first grandchild. Every time I would go to see her she would say “here comes my first.” She lived to be 97. She went to be with my mother and papa just a few days before Mother’s day in 1973. She had lived a full and for most part a happy life.

 

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