|Tracing a T to Tampa|
This is a remake and, just like many Hollywood remakes, it is the cast of the original that draws the most interest. Chris and I make up the traveling crew for most of the current outing and, although we think of ourselves as pretty interesting, to some, we are likely too familiar.
The only new crew member is my Dad who joins up for the launch at Woodington. He probably got me started on road trips with a 1964 Washington, D.C. vacation when my driver's license was something like a year old. We traveled east on convenient new expressways but returned by a more "direct" route through Virginia and West Virginia. Here the road might disappear behind trees or over a crest then reappear climbing a ridge in the distance. On top of that, there were real and visible people traveling on the road or living and working beside it. I was hooked. Dad and my step-mom have made quite a few road trips over the years and, even when he's not doing the driving himself, Dad is more likely to board a bus than an airplane.
In key supporting roles for the 1920 journey were the Model T that powered it and my grandmother who saved those letters. This wonderful picture shows both just a couple of years before the car's big trip and Blanche's big step into starting the family that eventually included my mother.
The original cast members would have taken their first road trip on or behind a horse instead of in an automobile. I was fortunate enough to know both sets of grandparents quite well but Frank and Gertrude were the only members of the preceding generation that I had a chance to know at all. As personal ancestors who had thrived in a world without airplanes, automobiles, televisions, or radios they were unique in my experience. They were not, I know, entirely unique for their own generation and I'm sure that much of my interest was and is due to the simple fact that they came from what seemed a distant time. But, while they may not have been unique from their contemporaries, they weren't exactly like all of them, either.
At the time I knew her, Granny had long been confined to a wheelchair by arthritis. During visits, she sat at one end of their living room and you felt that most of her time was spent in that spot even without visitors. There were a few book shelves within reach and a lap board on which she would occasionally write with a pencil held in twisted fingers. I only recently learned that those hands had once been familiar with piano keys and that she had frequently accompanied Frank on musical outings. She may have had ample reasons to be unhappy with her lot but I have absolutely no memory of Granny that revealed any bitterness from her or seemed aimed at evoking pity from others. She was more likely to evoke a smile or an outright laugh. Unable to walk for more than twenty years, she continued to enjoy doing whatever she could do and did not waste time worrying about what she couldn't.
Opposite Granny's wheelchair, at the other end of the narrow room, was Granddad's rocker. On one side was a cabinet or workbench that usually had a fiddle or two in some state of disassembly. Fully assembled and playable fiddles were also present and there was a straight chair next to the rocker where he would move when a little fiddling was called for. A spittoon sat on the floor beside the rocker; probably between it and the other chair. His primary occupation had been as a blacksmith and I suppose there was no shortage of these during the first quarter of the century. Even so, they were certainly less common than, say, farmers, and I'll bet that not all blacksmiths were fiddlers.
Frank and Gertrude's final resting place is just a couple of miles from Woodington in the Old Teegarden Cemetery. The graves are marked by a single water carved rock that Frank pulled from the Stillwater river himself. The stone was a curious piece of furniture in their home for many years before Frank and his son-in-law set it in concrete at its current location. Other bits of information concerning the original cast are scattered throughout this site. Some well known events of their life times are noted and there are glimpses of Granddad's music and Granny's poems. They were pretty interesting folks.
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