24 January 2011

Amanuensis Monday: "Stories Told by Dolores Waterman"

Genealogy can be a strange hobby sometimes.  Like I have written previously, I have a tendency to be myopic about it being "my" family history.  Sometimes I have to remind myself that not all my relatives share all my family history, as a matter of fact, only my brother shares exactly my ancestry.  I even have to remind myself that my ancestry is only half of what belongs to my two sons.  And that is the introduction for this post.

My wife's grandmother was Helen Marie (Baggott) Frank (5/29/1901 - 8/15/1973).  Her younger sister was Dolores Josephine (Baggott) Waterman (9/10/1905 - 10/01/1996).  Below are the "Stories of Dolores Waterman" as told by Joan Donlon and published The Baggott Family: A Family History (self-published, 2002) by Bert and Joan Donlon.
Mom shared a few stories about her family history and her childhood.  When I asked why not more she said that my Nana didn't like to talk about the "old" days because they were so "hard."  In fact my Nana found herself in a pasture one day with a bull ready to charge.  Nana took off at a fast clip, hoisted her long skirts, and cleared a six-foot fence with a foot to spare!  She said in later years as things got tough she sometimes wished she'd let the bull win the race.  Joseph and Edith Baggott, Dolores' parents, came to San Jose in 1900 after living in Kansas, Illinois, and Colorado.  They were farmers and Nana had vivid memories of trying to keep her sanity with five little boys cooped up in a tiny house during the Midwestern blizzards.  She carried a switch in her apron pocket as an aid to keeping order!  Their home in San Jose was at 820 Spring Street.  Grandpa had a dairy business for a while.  The boys sold the milk after school going around by horses and wagon.  He sold his dairy business to work as a contracting carpenter.  The most difficult part of any job was hanging doors.  He also found his asthma to be worse when sawing the wood for the projects.  He was also active in civic affairs.  Grandpa was just about blind by the time of his death in October 23, 1936 at the age of 81.  His funeral service was held at St. Joseph's Church and he is buried at Santa Clara Catholic Cemetery.
Nana and Grandpa had eight children, seven lived to have families of their own.  Regina died at the age of eight from diabetes.  Grandpa had heard that the water from the springs in Alum Rock Park was healthy so, on the weekends, he would hitch up the horse and travel the day to collect water.  Insulin had not yet been developed.
One of their most colorful children was Charles.  He had a love of adventure and horses.  One day he was brought home injured from riding bulls in the rodeo.  His injuries were serious enough to have the doctor come to the house.  He advised bed rest to allow Charles' knees time to heal.  While Nana walked the doctor to the door Charles climbed out the bedroom window and went back to the rodeo!
Mom remembered being at her brother George and Dell's wedding.  Mom was only six years old and this was an exciting event.  During the dinner Aunt Dell's dad was dishing up raviolis and mom had never seen any before.  Being a "suspicious" eater she wanted just a taste.   When Aunt Dell's dad didn't hear her timid request to stop, mom pulled away her plate and the raviolis ended up being served on the lace tablecloth.
Nana worked hard raising her children and running the household.  They raised cows, had a cherry orchard, and a vegetable garden.  She baked five pies, a cake or two, and batches of cookies every week on her wood stove.  She spent days canning produce.  Nana understood that a carpenter might not be able to earn money during the rainy season so she planned ahead toward the lean times.  Mom remembered not-so-prudent women asking for food to "tide their families over."  Knowing the generosity of my Nana I am sure they got a jar or two.
Mom went to St. Joseph's Grammar School and had her heart set on going to Notre Dame High School.  She needed to earn her tuition money so at age 11 1/2 she started working at the cannery.
As an adult, Mom realized her family didn't have much money but it had never been an issue.  It was a busy household with everyone pitching in.  Her parents managed to take a trip to Texas and Mexico and mom and Nana took trips together.  The first trip was back to Kansas in 1926 where Nana was reunited with her brothers and sisters after a thirty year separation.  The second trip was in 1928 when they went to Hawaii to visit Charles "King" Baggott and his family.  Those were happy memories!
Nana liked excitement and, as her son Louis said, she would have loved to ride on a fire engine.  She was active in civic affairs including the Woman's Civic League of San Jose.  In 1915 she was chairman of the league's charter committee.  She was also a member of the Women's Get-Together Club of the First Ward.  Nana enjoyed politics and worked on many projects for St. Joseph's School and parish.  She was also a very capable organizer of Whist parties for the benefit of the parish.
My brother Harold (Hal) and I were fortunate to have known her.  I remember: being rocked in the big chair, apple pies, feeding the chickens, a comfy nap to nestle in, a gentle hand, doll clothes made with love.  Her favorite word to get our attention was "Hark!"  We knew to be quiet and to listen-up.  I remember being sneaked a piece of candy to take the taste of soap out of my mouth!  Oh yes, mom was a disciplinarian and I must have had a sassy mouth!  A treasured memory: Nana took the airplane home from Los Angeles in time for my 3rd birthday.  I felt so loved!
Nana died on September 20, 1946 in San Jose, California.  Her funeral service was held at St. Joseph's Church and she is buried in Santa Clara Catholic Cemetery.
Copyright © 2011 by Kevin W. Walker

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