Daily Archives: January 6, 2012

When Mattie Met Thomas

In previous posts, I’ve mentioned that my mother was one of twelve children.

Recently, in going through some old family papers, I uncovered a letter written by my Mom’s sister, Mattie, the firstborn of the twelve. The letter was written to their brother, Thomas, the ninth born.

In this photo, Mattie is the girl in the dark dress, standing in the center. Thomas is the baby being held by his Papa in the upper left corner of the picture. Mattie was 13 when Thomas was born.

The letter is dated June 18, 1990, and tells how Mattie “met” Thomas on the night he was born. It’s a little difficult to read, so a translation follows the images.

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We (the other siblings) was there to greet him when he arrived July 2, 1920, about 9 pm. A very hot night. I remember the night very well. The mid wife, Molly Shivers, came upstairs to get me. I was sound asleep. Wanted me to come downstairs to fan Mama and run a wash cloth over her face, her arms to help keep her cool. Also fan her. She was almost bleeding to death. Papa had gone to get Dr. Brock to come to see her.  He had been there earlier to deliver (you) the baby. He gave her strychnine. This helped to save her life. I wasn’t old enough to be scared.

Molly Shivers said to me when I came downstairs, if I wanted to see my little baby brother. She had (you) Thomas laying at the foot of the other bed in the same room. He was looking at the lamp on the mantle. The blue eyes.

That was my greeting of (you) Thomas. I got to know him that night. There were 8 of us sisters and brothers to greet him: (me) Sister, Mattie, Lucille, Donnie, Andrew, Charlie, Bob, Martha and Margaret. We all loved him. I love him.

I thought this letter shed light on the hardships faced by that generation. In June of last year, I featured a letter written from another sister, Martha, to Mattie. Not only are the difficulties faced by families of that era evident in these letters, so is the love they had for each other.

70-odd years after Thomas’s birth, this photo was taken at a family reunion. That’s my mom in the wheelchair, Thomas standing, and Mattie on the far right.

(My mom died in 1995, at the age of 85, Thomas also died in 1995, at the age of 75, and Mattie died in 2002, at the age of 95. )