My Grandmother, Birthday – Deathday

Iva Anna Wright Hays Rogers

Grandma Rogers b. August 2, 1904  (space in between) d. November 17, 1996

My Grandmother Rogers was so good to me.  Not only did she spend an enormous amount to time taking care of me when I was very small, she also taught me many things. There is no way for me to begin to list the things that I learned from her, but she wanted to teach me and that is what she did.

I think that a blog is not enough space to devote to her, if I wanted to do her real justice, it would have to be a book. Maybe chronicles; for she dedicated her life to her grandchildren. I have to mention my Grandpa Rogers at this point, even thought this blog is about Grandma, my Grandpa played a huge role in the enjoyment of my lengthy visits to Grandma and Grandpa’s house in Camden, AR back in the day. When she wasn’t winning me over with her fine cooking or taking me with her shopping for the delectable ice cream sundae’s we would make in the evenings after feasting on another one of her downhome country meals, then Grandpa was taking me out for a ride in his jeep. We would comb the country side, singing, driving so slow down country back roads that don’t exist today. Oh, they may have roads leading to the same destinations, but not the dandy trails we once traversed in the mid 1950’s   up to around 1960 or somewhere there about.  For they are upgraded and paved today. But no one had more fun that his grandchildren, riding out on those backroads, he would let me sit on the edge of his doorway, (no doors on the jeep) and that was the deluxe riding spot. The other grandchildren would beg him to let them ride there, but he always gave it to me. (or that is how I remember it) Yet he was full of ways to make us all happy, and he also let someone ride on the left front hoot indent, and if there were three in tow, then someone else on the right front hood indent and before you know it, it looked like a parade vehicle with all of the kids riding on the outside. And the “other” adults would  complain, (cause I heard them) “he lets those kids ride all over that jeep, do you know how dangerous that is?) but Grandpa did it anyway, he knew what he was doing.

old family pics 001Grandpa standing next to his fox hound’s, that pen was not far from the house on their property.

But back to Grandma, this week would have marked her 105th birthday, had she lived. Her birthday was on August 2nd. Until I checked her bio, I could have sworn to you that her birthday was today. How some things don’t change. I never could get her birthday right. I really thought I had today, and I was so happy to be able to do this blog on her actual birthday, but seems I am still hanging up on the 5th of August. Oh…C….I remember now, I got married for the first (of three) marriages on August 5th. Shez? Ok…but I digress.

Grandma Rogers was a neat lady, she had a hard life, raising her 3 sons  for several years, after her first husband Robert D. Hays took off and left her. She was straddled with all the responsibility, and I am sure she had little if anything extra support her, other than her own resources. I don’t know how much education she had back in those days, but seems it wasn’t too bad. She was certainly able to handle the “three R’s” and I suppose education wasn’t as complicated back in the early 20th century. But, she did work and she provided the basics for her boys.  I remember she used to tell us about the jobs she had back in those days, but I hardly paid much attention to that stuff. I was pretty sure my Granny was past her prime and that stuff she was telling me had to be hundreds of years ago, and I wasn’t interested in the olden days. I was into modern living. Ha.

Grandma used to try and teach me to sew, to crochet, to knit, to cook, to clean, to work in the yard, to read the bible, and to play cards and dominoes. I like the card games; canasta, hearts, gin rummy, so I learned that sort of thing well. She also would take me down to the spring when it got jammed with the gravel and we had to dig the spring out, so water would flow to well and we would have running water on the property. I learned from an early age how frustrating it can be if one doesn’t conserve water. I learned how to wallpaper, for when ever the rent houses would vacate, we had to go there and re-paper the walls, and clean the houses to get them ready to rent again. One summer she had a horse for me ride, and everyday, I would go out and saddle (with help I imagine) that horse and fearlessly ride that horse all about the property. She had a huge property. IMG_2637

Over to the left of the house the land stretched out for about one mile and all through that area was their property, it went back that far also. It was plenty enough for me to ride that horse. Somewhere along the way I lost my “fearless” attitude of riding horses, and I don’t know how, that summer nothing scared me about it, and I loved to go as fast as that horse would take me.

On that land my Grandpa had moved several houses and they rented those houses to folks. The rent for a house was anywhere from $40 to $60 a month, they usually had 3 bedrooms and one bath. They had sandy yards, there was a lot of sand in that area. So the landscape was pretty shabby (except at Grandma’s yard), but the Stough’s had a huge corn field and other fine vegetables, which part of the rental agreement was that Grandma could  pick fresh vegetables from their garden. She never made us do that, and I was glad. Otherwise we would have had to get up at daybreak, for she would get up, go to the garden, prepare the vegetable for cooking and have them on the stove, sometimes in a pressure cooker, so when I woke up, that lunch meal was on the stove and would be incredible. I was always amazed at her.

alumenim pressure cooker

The work; well I did not relish any of that stuff, but it stuck, we did enough of that to learn. And later after Gr. Grandma Wright died, we got to go out and play house in her little one bedroom cottage that was in Grandma’s back yard. The lodge was another spot of make believe house living we got use. It was useful for many fine family gatherings and at one time, it was a showplace. It was nestled down in the woods at the end of the road, it had a large circle drive, a pond in the back for fishing and grandpa built a bridge to fish off of and I loved the lodge. I wish I could live there today. It was a sanctuary.

me and pa resized

Me and Grandpa standing out next to his “panel body truck” (that is what we called it). He was a house mover, “it can be done” was his slogan, c 1953 or so.

006_6Here is a photo of Grandma and her first husband Robert Hays and two of their 3 boys. My Uncle Bill is facing the camera, and my daddy Richard D. Hays is in his dad’s arms looking back at something. I would guess this photo to be made in 1926 or there abouts.

Dec 55 gr rogers hs

Here is a photo of a Christmas morning in Camden, probably 1957 I am guessing. I am the little girl sitting closest to the babydoll crib. My cousin Lydia is standing up behind looking down at me.  Her late brother Andy standing next to the tree and my sister Kay behind him, over on the lap of (I am not sure who the woman is) but the little baby is Randy, he died about 10 years ago. But the memories of that time still provide me with a warmth and comfort which I carry with me today. It was always happy times at Grandma’s house. Always!!


Last January when I was back in Arkansas, I asked my parents if they would like to take a drive back over to Camden with me and let me take some pictures of Grandma’s house. I am so glad that we went. I am 58 years old, and it has been many years since Grandma lived in this house. The photo  (the living room scene) was taken at this house back in the early 50’s, so imagine?  The house had a big white picket fence that stretched all around it. To me it seemed a mansion. Today, this little house has little to adorn it, Grandma had a beautiful green law, lots of flower beds, the white fence,  it was striking. But at least it is still standing and in pretty good shape. I was grateful to see that.

I also wanted to visit her cemetary plot, she is buried next to her mother Lydia Wright and grandma’s older brother Larkin Wright.

IMG_2655Last I want to mention something that I have been doing lately, and that is taking Peaches on walks over at the downtown historical cemetary. The first day I visited it, I found the Blue Birds flying about and that won me over. Since that time we visit that cemetary once or twice a week, depending upon the traffic near the city park. But recently I have been enjoying taking some pictures of that and want to put them here.

S6304971August 2, 2009 was a Sunday.

My Grandmother was born 105 years ago on that day. My Niece and Nephew lost their Grandfather Enoch on August 2nd, 2009. He died exactly 105 years to the day of when my Grandmother was born. Nothing strange about that, of 365 days of each year things overlap, just the randomness of the universe. But, my grandmother, Hays and Joanna’s grandfather, are buried in cemeteries, and that is what got me thinking. This little bird, one of several I imagine, that lives in the local historical cemetery. I get to see that beautiful bird often, something that has never happened to me before. I found that spark of happiness in a cemetery; of all things. Now when I walk about all those really old tomb stones, I get such a sense of joy.

S6304853In that space, there dwell some very old spirits, and they give off some very pleasant vibes. I continue to return, not to look for grief or sadness, no to find peace. I do and it feels good. That BlueBird? That little bird flys around the grounds, darting from one tombstone to the next, and I chase after him, trying to get that shot, and that little bird is guiding me along. It is some kind of game, and I haven’t figured it out completely, but I don’t think about that too much, I don’t want to analize this, it feels good.

S6304975Outside this mausoleum a little bird stands guard, guiding some of us to come closer, and I did…..

S6304980Inside is beautiful. There is a coldness that is present, but there is a light to warm this room. Just like our own inside/outside. Come close and look inside me, you may be surprised.

S6304973It is amazing that this bird allowed me to get so close, remember I have a dog on a leash very close to this bird. But he was brave and on a mission. I hope you enjoy the visit to the place we honor our ancestors. We give this space to all who so desire. Me? I choose to allow my ashes to return to the sea, but that is another day and another blog. For tonight, I say Happy Birthday Grandma, and Farewell Mr Enoch. I don’t believe in accidents, so fwiw. I bid you adieu.


One thought on “My Grandmother, Birthday – Deathday

  1. Jimmie – I am grateful for this look at your family history. I like to peek a little deeper into the other half of Hays and Joanna LOL. It is also nice to know that alot of people are wishing love to our Pepa. It is a comfort to me to visit Rocky Mound Cemetery, just a mile or so from my home, where a branch of our family (the Williams family) as well as many neighbors and friends are buried, and where Pepa was buried yesterday. I went there often as a child, and I bring children there with me now. I hope when they are adults that they can feel the same sense of belonging to a place and a people.

    Enjoyed reading some of your entries – and thanks very much for the link to Sunshine For Dinner – I get hits from your site!


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