Friday, July 6, 2012

Lillie Jennings Basham Halstead

I've been meaning for a long time to write a post on my grandmother (my mother's mother).  Lille Jennings Basham Halstead, or Mawmaw as I referred to her, was born in 1896.  She was the daughter of John Wesley Basham and Ida Jane Basham.

 Claude Hurt was her first husband.  She had two children by this marriage:  Johnnie (who was born with complications and later died) and my Aunt Lee.  The story goes that after Claude returned from WWI he cheated on her.  She later married my grandfather, Edgar Stanley Halstead.  According to the story, they courted at Streeter. From this marriage were born:  James (Jimmy), Dave (Davey), Ruth, and my mother Linda.

 Mawmaw died when I was 8, but I remember a lot about her.  She was kind, but even from a child's perspective I could tell that her eyes concealed years of wisdom mixed with sadness and loss.  

   After pawpaw died, I had sleepovers at her house on East Prince Street.  She would tell me stories about growing up on Chestnut Flat (near Streeter).  I especially loved hearing the one about how she and her sister Grace (Emma Grace), when returning from the meat house, were chased by a panther.  The way Mawmaw described her sister's face as "pale white" when she saw her reaction made chills run down my back.
She also told me the story of the ghost of a family member who visited him and his wife one night "standing at the foot of his bed".  

  Mawmaw loved to sing and laugh.  She also liked to pick. She would take her cane and poke me with it when I was little.  My mother likes to pick (so do my aunts and my uncle) and I can see where they acquired the trait.

   She loved poetry - one of the many things I have in common with her.  Her favorite poem was Longfellow's "Wreck of the Hesperus".  

    When she would visit our house I always wanted to play school with her: this entailed me setting up a small blackboard and playing like I was her teacher (she loved it).  Gee, I'm a teacher now... wonder how that happened?!

   She loved to travel.  The list of places she traveled to rivals that of any million miler frequent flyer.  I used to play with her airline momentos - probably one of the reasons why I chose to work for the airlines pre 911.

   Mawmaw died in 1983 almost a year after Pawpaw died.  After he died she was never the same.  My Uncle Jimmy caught her not chewing or swallowing her food.  She died at his house in Charleston, WV.

   I owe alot of my memories of Streeter to my grandmother.  She played a pivotal role in my development and I'm thankful of that.


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