Connie A Thompson

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Sunday Dinner: Naomi’s Legacy

Mary "Naomi" Goudelock 1886 - 1958

Mary “Naomi” Goudelock
1886 – 1958

Every year my grandmother and mother would plant gardens. They were usually small. Grandmother’s fit in a bricked off area that had once been the foundation for a coal house. What is a coal house? Many years ago their house was heated by coal. There were small grates in every room that looked like small fireplaces.

My grandparents eventually upgraded to a gas furnace, and there was no longer a need for coal. The building, which was about 6′ x 6′ was torn down, but the foundation remained. The floor had been dirt. During the fall and winter months, grandmother would put all the leftover food scraps in the dirt creating a compost pile. Come spring she would plant tomatoes, cucumbers, okra, green beans, and anything that suited her.

I loved to go pick the tomatoes. Grandmother would often slice a tomato, put a thin layer of Duke’s mayonnaise on white bread and a little salt and pepper. She said as a girl, lunch in the summer was often a fresh vegetable from the garden and a leftover biscuit from lunch.
My grandmother, Laura was born in 1918 and grew up on the mill hill. Her parents had a cow, chickens, and a garden. She claimed her mother wasn’t much of a cook, but she was an excellent gardener.

Her mother, Naomi was stern, but kind. If someone was passing through and asked for food, she always gave them what she could. Young Laura watched these travelers pass by other houses before stopping at theirs. She wondered how they knew. Her mother claimed that the travelers left a sign indicating that their house would offer food. Young Laura combed the yard in search of the mysterious welcome sign, but never found one.

When I was ten, I sat on the porch one day with my grandmother. A young woman toting a baby on her hip lumbered off the bus and walked up the street. The baby whined; they were both drenched in sweat. Grandmother called out to her inviting her up to the shade of the front porch. The young woman not much more than a girl looked around trying to decide if she should stop. The baby cried out, and she trudged up the steps. She took a seat on the metal glider, the baby perched on her knees. The baby became mesmerized by her own toes painted with pink nail polish. She babbled. I continued reading my book as I if I wasn’t paying attention to them. I had long before mastered the art of having my nose in a book and seeming oblivious while watching everything.

Grandmother returned with juice and shortbread cookies for the baby. She handed the woman a tall glass of iced tea. They talked about her baby, and my grandmother talked about when her children were babies. When their tea glasses were empty, they sat for a little longer and then the mother tucked her sleeping child on her hip and picked up her bag. Her steps were a little lighter than when she first trudged up the street.

I saw my great grandmother, Naomi’s legacy living on through her daughter. Kindness to others.

Today will be the first Sunday dinner without my son and daughter in law living nearby. Some family members are away at the beach. We’ll have a small group today rather than the usual crowd. Both my grandsons will be here. I know this is a day they won’t specifically remember, but I know that Sunday dinners will be something they will always carry in their heart.

The Beginning of a Family Tradition

Mary "Naomi" Goudelock 1886 - 1958

Mary “Naomi” Goudelock
1886 – 1958

I never got to meet her. She passed before I was born and yet she has had such an impact on my life.

My first reaction when I first saw this picture was to wonder what my mother was doing dressed up in old timey era clothes. I really thought this was one of those pictures they take in places like Gatlinburg, TN. I was wrong. It is actually a picture of her maternal grandmother.

I’ve heard many stories about this woman. She lost her husband in an accident at Beaumont Mill. When management told her she would have to move to a smaller house, she bought one instead. She had to have room for her cow and chickens. Family legend says that management not only fired her but her sons that were working at the mill as well. She took in boarders to help with finances.

This is a story my grandmother, Laura Rodgers once told me.

Sometimes a man would walk up from the railroad to our back door looking for food. Mama always gave them something, and she would try to give them a good meal when she could. I asked Mama how come people always knew she would feed them. She said they had a way of marking houses that were friendly to folks. I searched looking for that mark and never did find it.

My grandmother said she started the Sunday dinner tradition because that was what her mother did. She liked having her children and grandchildren come for dinner. There was never enough room at the table and you’d find people eating their dinner anywhere they could find a spot. On warm sunny days the front porch was a favorite.

Today I will continue the family tradition. I’ll have the roast in the crockpot first thing in the morning. When I get back (we go to the early service) I’ll make the macaroni and cheese and finish everything else up. Since we didn’t get to celebrate a couple of weeks ago for my brother, Dennis’ birthday we’ll do that today. Banana pudding is his desert of choice.

I hope you enjoyed hearing a little about Mary “Naomi” Goudelock, the one my family should thank for first beginning this tradition.

Check back next Sunday. I’ll have another story and I promise to bring you the recipe of a family favorite.