Narrative, "Portrait of My Grandmother Nora"
Nora Lee Crawford Davenport was my father's mother. She was born, raised and died in South Carolina. She was real proud of being from South Carolina and didn't mind telling my mom (who was from N.C.) that the girls in S.C. were prettier than the girls from N.C. She really knew how to ruffle Moms feathers.
Grandma Nora was the daughter of Preston and Mamie Crawford. She married my grandpa at a very early age. "Dude" as he was so fondly called, was to say the least a colorful person. But that's another story. Grandma loved him and had 6 children with him. One of those children died, either at birth or a short time later. I'm not sure. It hurt grandma to lose this child and I remember every once in awhile she would mention it out of the blue. It was a boy.
After a few years of marriage, Dude got antsy feet and left grandma to raise the 5 children they had together. This was tough times for everybody. Daddy was about 5 when his father walked away. That would have made it about 1926. As Daddy cried and begged him not to leave...he kept walking until my father could not see him anymore.
So now we have a young mother with 5 little children...pre depression times and her husband has just walked out on her and her family. I would imagine she cried more than a few tears over him. What I know is that she had no choice but to get on with things and raise her brood the best she could.
She sent 5 little kids to school in the mornings, each with a lard bucket filled with cold biscuits, molasses and anything else she could round up. The kids wore shoes with cardboard in them to cover the holes. My father has told me about going to bed many nights hungry. She learned to grow her own food, raised chickens and cattle. The best cantaloupes I ever tasted came from grandmas. My memories of grandma are plentiful. Her house was spotless. Even her outhouse was spotless. I remember how the dishes were hand washed and then sterilized with boiling water that she fetched from the well off the back porch.
I loved visiting her. We lived in WIlmington and would drive all night to get to Ware Shoals, S.C. It would still be dark outside when we would wake everyone up. Grandma always wanted to know what took so long for us to get there. Daddy never told her that we always got lost (at least once) everytime we made the trip. Anyway all the adults would sit around the big kitchen table having coffee and catching up. The kids were tucked in bed by Aunt Thelma. I would lay there looking at the Master Crafter clock with the little boy and girl swinging back and forth until I fell asleep.
Mornings at grandmas were special. She was up way before us. The aroma of coffee, bacon, sausage, grits, eggs...oh and don't forget the homemade biscuits cooked on her wood stove would make anyone jump out of bed! Then of course she had fruit and homemade jams on the table. One of my best memories of her was her making jam. My cousin and I picked blackberries and in no time at all they were all jarred up and sealed with paraffin and looking all pretty in her cupboard. (Which I happen to still have)
For dinner there was sometimes fish caught in the Saluda River that ran behind her property or a fresh chicken right out of her yard.
I didn't know chickens could still run after their heads were off, but I learned real fast!
They got real modern and Uncle JB built an outdoor shower. Nothing more than wood and burlap, a 100 gallon oil drum and a faucet bought at the dimestore. But it worked!
After we ate at night and the ladies had the dishes done we would all go out on grandma's front porch and listen to her tell ghost stories. She lived in the middle of nowhere and there had once been Indians that lived on the land. It was not unusual to find arrowheads. Grandma told those stories for the truth and they would have you so scared ....
Then it would be time for bed...and once again those little feet of ours had to be washed off before we got on her white sheets.
She actually collected rain water to soften them in a big wooden Keg with a piece of screen to keep the leaves and trash out.
Then we all went to bed (windows open) and would be lulled to sleep by the distant haunting call of the whippoorwill.
I hope I have painted a picture of my grandmother for others to read long after I'm gone.
Forest Lawn Cemetery
Laurens, Laurens County, South Carolina
WIFE OF WALTER LEE DAVENPORT. DAUGHTER OF JAMES PRESTON CRAWFORD AND MAMIE E. RIDGEWAY CRAWFORD. FOUR SONS, J.B.DAVENPORT,WILTON LEVIS DAVENPORT, FELTON EUGENE DAVENPORT AND CHARLES WALTER DAVENPORT. ONE DAUGHTER THELMA GENET DAVENPORT. EIGHT BROTHERS PRESTON J. CRAWFORD,ROY E. CRAWFORD, WISTER D. CRAWFORD, ERSKIN P.CRAWFORD, CARLTON T. CRAWFORD, PAUL CRAWFORD, HOWARD CRAWFORD, MARVIN CRAWFORD. FOUR SISTERS MARY G. CRAWFORD, SARAH CRAWFORD, FRANSIS S. CRAWFORD AND MARIE CRAWFORD
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