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Healing Point of View
By Mary Burkhart Reed
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2010 Mary Burkhart Reed
All right reserved.
Chapter OneMy Paternal Grandparents - Eugene and Ida Stuckey Burkhart
Granddaddy Eugene Burkhart
Since my father died in 1987, I interviewed his siblings to find out about his parents and childhood. My Aunt Alvernon arranged for me to speak to my Aunt Margaret, Aunt Carrie, Aunt Daisy, and Uncle Buck, my father's only living sisters and brother. Aunt Margaret told me that she had wished that she had asked her parents about their childhood, especially since she had a stroke and has lost parts of her memory.
I only saw my dad's parents once a year during the summer when we were not in school. Once in awhile they might come to see us. Granddaddy Burkhart reminded me of John Wayne. He was a tall and handsome man who was always kind and friendly to me and would try to get me to talk with him.
My aunts and uncle told me that he was a very humble man who owned two sawmills where all the children worked at as soon as they could shovel sawdust. One sawmill burned to the ground in 1936, and Aunt Daisy and Grandma poured water on the house so it wouldn't burn down, while the younger children were escorted to the middle of a big field.
Uncle Buck was the youngest and he said, "He always seemed to get along pretty good with most everybody, but of course when you worked with him that was different. I didn't work much with him other than on the farm."
He continued, "He was somebody that would instruct you what to do and he wanted you to do it. Like pitching hay on a wagon. If you didn't pitch it up that way, he would throw it back at you. I saw him do it many times. Make hay then pile it. Then you pick it up and set it on the wagon. You don't throw it up on the wagon. You set it up on the wagon."
Aunt Carrie remembered that, "He was mean to the boys."
Uncle Buck said, "If Dad had something in his hand when you disobeyed him, then he would use it on you."
As Uncle Buck recalled a time when his older brother did not listen to their dad, who happened to have a crowbar in his hand and used it against his brother's back, you could see the pain on his face and the grimaces and shame on the bent heads of my aunts, who were all shaking their heads in agreement.
I am sure there was an expression of pain on my own face when I heard this story, and I felt the energy of the meeting shift way down. I wanted to bring the energy back up, but I didn't know what to say.
What is your own, personal reaction to this story? When one person suffers, we all suffer because we are all connected.
This story reminded me of the time my son and I went fishing. We were poling the boat back to the dock at my dad's river lots on the Potomac River. We weren't able to get back to the dock because my son and I were not working together. He was about seven or eight years old and was in great fear, and expressing it, which made me very nervous. I told him to shut up and stop poling, but he continued to do both, and finally out of frustration, anxiety and the fact that he hadn't listened to my pleas to stop, I hit him on the head with my pole. He then sat down and stopped poling and I was able to get the boat back to the dock within a very short time.
Back at the dock I immediately asked Dad for a plastic bag with some ice in it to put on my son's head; and he just laughed at me. I felt horrible that I had hit my son on the head, I didn't want to hurt him and it probably hurt me more than it did him. I wished that I had dropped the anchor, sat down, and taken some deep breaths until both of us had calmed down.
Hindsight is always better, but it is too late. The past is over, so what is important is to go forth with new insight, understanding, and a different response from the lessons that are learned.
My Aunt Margaret, the second born and oldest living child at age 90, had positive memories. "I thought he was a great dad, because I worked with him ever since I was big enough to shovel sawdust. I loved my dad very much and I worked with Dad all the time. I wasn't with my mom very much. One thing that I thought was very unusual was when he saw this pretty yellow dress in town in the store. He said, 'Margaret, I think that dress would look pretty on you.' So we went down and parked the truck a couple of blocks away, and went up and he said, 'Go on in and try it on. I think it will look pretty on you.'"
Granddaddy also helped Aunt Margaret pick out her light pink wedding dress and a gray and pink suit since he thought she might be cold in the dress. "I thought he was a special Daddy," Aunt Margaret said.
This story made me feel so good about my granddaddy. How does it make you feel? Remember, we are one.
Uncle Buck said when his father went to deliver the products from his sawmill, he always went with him because his father always had a bag of candy in his truck. "That is where my teeth went," Uncle Buck confessed.
My dad always had candy around too. My older sister and I had false teeth when we were in our twenties. It must run in the family, although my other sisters still have their teeth. Granddaddy would tease us by taking his false teeth out and showing them to us.
Aunt Carrie said that when Granddad would get mad at Grandma, he would not speak to her for weeks. Even so, they celebrated more than 50 years together. They bought a new car every other year and a new truck when they didn't buy a car, according to my mom.
Granddaddy closed the mill down in 1942 due to government regulations and paper work. He went to work for Fairchild Hiller Corp. for several years, but the paint fumes got to him, he quit, and went to work for the B & O Railroad Shops in Martinsburg. During this time he had two heart attacks, and Aunt Margaret recalled that the doctor told him that since he had survived two heart attacks he might as well eat what he wanted to. My granddad lived to be 81 years old.
Granddaddy had asked me to come and live with him after Grandma died in July of 1974, but I said no. So my sister Marie and her four children moved in with him. Marie said that Granddaddy worked hard and expected everyone to work together until the job was done before you could go to school or play. Breakfast dishes had to be done before the children went to school. Marie agreed that he was a wonderful man, but one day one her of sons spoke back to her, and Granddaddy went after him. Marie jumped on Granddaddy's back to stop him and told him that he could not beat her son. Granddad expected children to show respect for their mother.
When Granddaddy Burkhart passed away on July 23, 1976, my granddaddy, Reverend Frazier, gave an eloquent and touching eulogy. He had tears in his eyes and broke up as he spoke of the love, kindness, and generosity of Granddaddy Burkhart, who had started to go to church when he was 42 and became the superintendent of the Sunday School and a trustee where Granddaddy Frazier preached.
Granddaddy Frazier said that if you asked Granddaddy Burkhart for an apple, he would have given you a bushel of apples. We were all in tears, especially my younger sister who had thought she wouldn't be affected by the funeral since she really hadn't known him all that well.
Grandma Ida Stuckey Burkhart
Grandma Burkhart's mother died during an influenza epidemic in December of 1898 when she was eight months old, so she was raised by Lexie Kesecker. Grandma was an amazing woman and a wonderful cook who prepared meals and did laundry for the seven to eight men that worked at the sawmill. Since we did not have a phone she never had advance notice that we were coming. There were six or seven of us, and another sibling or two might come with their children, but Grandma always had something to cook. She had a building built to hold her large, double refrigerator/ freezer.
She always had a smile and cheering words to greet you, and she tried to make all fifty of her grandchildren a quilt. Every time we would visit, Grandma would take us into the parlor room where she made the quilts. She had made more than thirty-five quilts the last time I can recall being in the parlor. My sisters and I never saw a quilt after Grandma died, but the love and desire to make us one was all that I needed.
My mom told me that Grandma had designed and made a concrete slaughter containment space for when they slaughtered the pigs and cows. She also helped the men put a new roof on their house. Mom said she worked like a man. She raised chickens and cows; she sold eggs, and took in laundry to make money. She also made money by selling gas to local residents at the sawmill. Back then Grandma had to pump the gas by hand. She played the organ by ear at church and taught Sunday school at the Jones Spring Calvary Church. My mother's sister had her for Sunday school when she was ten years old and liked her very much.
Aunt Daisy loved her mom and told about the dresses that she had made her from feed sacks. Grandma would also buy them a store-bought dress each year. Aunt Carrie said she remembers her mom killing two rattlesnakes when they moved into the home place. She also said that the place was haunted and you could hear chains upstairs, but Grandma nicely told the spirits to get out, that they were going to live there now, and so they left.
When Grandma bought their house and approximately five acres, Granddaddy got mad. The outside of the house was not painted and they had to put new siding on it, later adding a new kitchen and turning the old kitchen into a dining room and bathroom. A lawyer friend told Grandma that her best investment would be land. So Grandma and Granddaddy invested in land with their excess money, and later sold part of it back to their children.
"Well, I think she was a wonderful lady and she had a job trying to raise us kids," Aunt Margaret said.
Uncle Buck was the last of nine children and when Grandma was pregnant with him the doctor wanted to take him because he was concerned that Grandma would die. Uncle Buck thinks it was some kind of blood disease, but Grandma wouldn't let the doctor take him. Instead she stayed in bed for months so that she could give birth to Uncle Buck.
Grandma also loved her flower garden and had a gazing globe in the front yard that we would all look into to view the world and ourselves in distortion. She also had this small, white rocking chair that my sisters would run and compete for when we arrived at her house.
An interesting thing to note is that when my father died, my cousin, who did the eulogy, didn't have much to say about Dad since he felt he was of low character. Instead he praised Grandma.
Chapter TwoMy Maternal Grandparents - Daniel Abraham and Rachel Rinaca Frazier
To help me with the history of my maternal grandparents, I talked to my mother and also had a friend interview her later. I received information on my mother's father, Reverend Daniel Frazier, from a paper my Uncle David and Aunt Esther had written for Shenandoah University, which his sisters also contributed to. I also interviewed my mother's sisters, Aunt Ruth and Aunt Esther.
Granddaddy Daniel Abraham Frazier
I especially loved Granddaddy Frazier, with his wooden leg, because he was the only one that I felt who loved me unconditionally. He had asked my grandma if he could take me to the store to get some candy, but Grandma said that I needed to be cleaned up. Granddaddy took me to the store anyway, introduced me to the owner, and let me pick out any candy I wanted. My sister Marie was sick from eating too much applesauce, so I chose the pink Canada mints that Granddaddy said would help her stomach.
My mom said that honesty was the most important thing to her dad. This might have something to do with the fact that when Granddaddy went to work for the railroad in July of 1918, he lied about his age. Within a few weeks his leg was cut off below the knee when it slipped under a train wheel. He felt he lost his leg because he had lied about his age. From my point of view, this was a defining event in Granddaddy's life, which caused him to stress honesty to my mom and I suspect to all of his children as well.
Education was important to Granddaddy. Mom said that he made her change schools when he did not think she was learning from the teacher she had. Granddaddy knew because he was certified in the Commonwealth of Virginia to teach all elementary subjects plus Biology, English, Greek, History, Latin, and Mathematics in the high schools. He was also a substitute teacher in the state of West Virginia. He worked as both a substitute teacher and a preacher when he was younger.
Granddaddy's father, John Mordichai Frazier, was also very well educated. John's mother died when he was 11 and it is believed that he went to live with a family by the name of Lincoln, and they educated him or saw to it that he was educated. He taught at a school and was a rural mail carrier around 1897 because he scored the highest on the test. The job required not only mail delivery, but to read letters to people that could not read them. Great Granddaddy was not to let anyone know the contents of the letters he read, but it was suspected that after reading a very confidential letter to someone, that person may have poisoned Great Granddaddy with some crackers, because after eating them, he became paralyzed and died.
My Granddaddy Frazier was a United Brethren minister. He was called to the ministry in 1918, but did not obey until August 7, 1920. He wrote, "The second call to the Ministry was in July 1920 while praying and asking God to make me a good Sunday school superintendent. God spoke and said 'How can I make you a good superintendent, when you will not do what I want you to do?' That was plain enough. That changed me completely."
Granddaddy preached in Virginia and West Virginia. On February 19, 1973, the Central Church in Jones Springs, West Virginia presented a version of "This is Your Life." Elwood S. Frye served as master of ceremonies and he wrote the following:
This is your Life
Daniel A. Frazier, affectionately Dan A friend of sinners, and a prince of a man Clergyman, minister and servant of God Walking each day where the Master trod.
One who serves with pure delight Whose home is open both day and night Always abounding in faith and love Down to earth, with affections above.
God gives us men like Brother Dan Men who are willing, and men who can This is your life, one without end Daniel A. Frazier, dearest friend.
I heard Granddaddy preach at least once, but I don't remember the sermons. He was concerned that the bibles would all be burned, so he memorized the book of Revelation, but after an operation, he could no longer quote it, so he recorded it on a cassette tape. My aunt gave me a copy of the recording so I can hear my granddaddy's voice anytime I want to.
Can you listen to a deceased relative's voice anytime that you want to?
During the Maysville flood in June 17, 1949, the church was swept away, with the bell a ringing. The church busted up by a swinging bridge, then hit some trees downstream, and broke into pieces. My aunt said that Granddaddy thought someone had gone into the church and was ringing the bell for help. The two-room schoolhouse up on the hill by the parsonage was converted to the church and named Fout Memorial Church, although the townspeople called it Maysville Church.
Granddaddy then built a stonewall facing downtown Maysville that had the letters E.U.B. in scarlet, red and white marble colors relating to Isaiah 1:18 (King James Version)
"Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."
Even though Granddaddy was supposed to be paid $1,130 a year when he had the Hardy Charge which consisted of six churches in West Virginia from September 1927-1930, he was only paid $640-$800 a year. In spite of these conditions, my mom said that her dad would spend money to get boxes of candy and oranges for poor children in the community. Granddaddy had a heart full of love and gave in the ways that he could.
Excerpted from Healing Point of View by Mary Burkhart Reed Copyright © 2010 by Mary Burkhart Reed. Excerpted by permission.
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