The Grandmother Stith I remember was a deeply wrinkled, gray-headed, much beloved old woman with, I guess, a sense of humor.
Her name was Anne Belle Stein Stith. She was born on April 27, 1865, 12 days before the end of the Civil War, and died Aug. 6, 1949, when I was seven years old. She was 40 years old and pregnant with her seventh child when her husband, Paul Jones Stith, shot himself in the heart with a revolver, killed himself. She held her family together without him and for that she was revered.
When I was a child we lived on a farm outside Gadsden, AL; Grandmother Stith lived with two of her sisters, Mrs. Emma Screws and Mrs. Hattie Rush, in Birmingham, about 50 miles away. Dad took us to see her on special occasions and Dave and I stayed with her for two weeks after our mother died in June 1947. So I knew her.
She did some grandmother-like things when Dave and I stayed at her house. She gave us a dime each some days and let us walk to a nearby store and buy ice cream.
But she liked to play tricks.
She had a spring-loaded can of what she said were “nuts,” but there were no nuts in the can. When you opened the lid the spring sprung.
She had what looked like a pack of Juicy Fruit chewing gum and she offered me a piece. When I pulled the “gum” out of the pack a spring, sort of like a mouse trap spring, whacked my finger.
She also had what looked like a tiny music box, which she would hand to a grandchild. She told me if I pressed the “button” I’d hear music. I did. Hidden inside the felt button was a pin.
Ha, ha, ha!
Coming Friday: Smart Food