Annie Belle McCleod Paine
Today is my Grandma Annie's birthday. This is my favorite photo of her, and this is an awful scan, as it is, I am sure, a scan of a scan of a scan. But, you get the picture: she is swinging, even "pumping" and I love the half-smile on her face. She is visiting her daughter's family in San Rafael; when, I do not know.
She was the eldest daughter of a Scottish family, born before 1900; like 1889! (I am not sure, but I know that her youngest sibling, Uncle Vic, was born in 1900.) As a child, I used to beg her to tell me about "the olden days, pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeese!" I so wish that I could remember all that she told me.
Her family drove a team of horses, she used to tell me. She learned how to drive the team. Being the eldest daughter, child care was her job from very early in her life, as she was a member of a large family. I was enthralled with Little House On the Prairie images that her stories conjured, but she would also remind me that it wasn't all that easy. In other words, she worked very, very, hard, from very early on in her life.
She was born, a second generation Californian, in the hills outside of Ferndale, California. Her own children were born at Grizzly Bluff, which is a little closer in to Ferndale. At that time, there were many communities in the valley, all linked to the town, but far enough out to have their own schools, maybe a store and a post office.
Of course, I knew her in Larabee, where she and her husband had moved when her kids were young. Again, she lived in a very isolated outpost, working long hours to keep a dairy ranch and inn afloat. Recently my brother, Bob, made the remark, "They had all they needed, except money." In other words, the family was incredibly self-sufficient, they grew all of their food, including meat, they hunted (in season, of course), grew and harvested the hay crop for the animals, corn, and a large vegetable garden. Their "cash crop" was cream, from the Jersey cows, occasional boarders, odd jobs like hemming trousers, and Grandma was the Post Mistress for a time. Imagine what that must have paid.
She was tough, and stories have been told of her terrible aim with a gun. She noticed her cat staring at something in her pea patch, and she went out to discover a rattle snake. She returned to the house and got the shot gun and blew it and the pea patch to smithereens. She was also known for her kindness and generosity. She'd feed a "tramp" before she sent him back on his way to the railroad tracks which ran behind her house and barn. As a child I was horrified at the thought of finding a "bum" in the hay mow, but find them they did, long before I was born. I also understood that she was not to be crossed, though I never knew exactly what that meant. I do know that I have inherited a certain "look" which can drop a kid over backwards, make cats scatter, and stop a Labrador in it's tracks. I used this "glance" often in high school, marvelling at how certain boys would be floored, "Gawd," they'd say. "Don't look at me like that..." I see this same "black-eyed look" in all three of my daughters, even the one with green eyes.
My granddaughter is named after her. Annie. Of course, I wish that Grandma Annie could've seen all of my grandchildren. She'd have been proud and amazed, this I know.
Happy Birthday, Grandma.
I love you.