After Golda left, my great-grandfather married a woman named Evelyn who helped raise Vivian and Oliver. For many years, I didn’t know about Golda. I always thought that Evelyn was my blood relative. It didn’t matter though. She was a great-grandmother to me and I loved her.
Let me take a small step backwards here. There’s a lot more interesting family heritage on this side of the family. Floyd (my great-grandfather) came from a long line of Methodist ministers. But he was also a descendant of John Wesley Hardin. In case you’re not familiar with him, John Wesley Hardin was an outlaw and gunfighter who is most famous for allegedly shooting a man in his sleep for snoring. On a side note: snoring doesn’t bother me. No need to fear being shot in your sleep for that!
Floyd was quite a character himself. He was imprisoned for organizing a rally of clergymen who were against World War 1. I have some of his sermons, poems and even a small booklet he wrote while he was in prison. One of the poems he wrote talks about a baby scratching his face… what horrid child would do such a thing?! I’m not sure if that was written about Vivian or Oliver. Floyd enjoyed alcohol, though I don’t know if he was an alcoholic or not.
I don’t recall ever meeting Vivian, although I’m sure I did at some point. Oliver had no middle name. I always knew him as “Grandpa Shady.” Why Shady? I found out that as a young man he joined the Navy. When he signed up they needed a middle name for his records. Since he didn’t have one, he made one up. He called himself Oliver Shadrach Hardin. Hence the name Shady. I adored my Grandpa Shady. He reminded me of Popeye the Sailor Man in some ways. He was a sailor… he had tattoos… and he loved to smoke a pipe. Oh, and his bark was much worse than his bite. He loved to rub his unshaven face on our cheeks and give us whisker burns, though it was all in fun.
During the Great Depression, Shady was working at a restaurant where he met a young lady named Dorothy Nelson. They married after a short courtship. I imagine life was very hard for them back then. I know that one of the ways they earned money was by running a boarding house. My grandmother would cook and clean for people who rented rooms from them. Many years later, I know that Grandpa drove a truck for DC Trucking. Grandma worked for May D&F (or as she called it, the May Company.)
And so begins my heritage as I know it. Shady and Dorothy had 4 children: Barbara (my mom), Beverly, Robert and Becky. I’ll write more on all of them as time allows.