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Interview with Grace Lock

Lock, Grace
Lock, Sarah
Date of Interview: 
Relationships with people and places; then and now; childhood adventures
Grace Lock talks about being raised in her grandparents' home.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Sarah Lock interviews Charlotteans to collect stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
SL (Sarah Lock): Today is November 21, 1999. This is Sarah Lock and I am recording a conversation with my mother. What is your name?
GL (Grace Lock): Grace Lock.
SL: How old are you?
GL: 56.
SL: When were you born?
GL: January 12, 1943.
SL: And where are you from?
GL: I was born in Circleville, Ohio and I grew up in Delaware Count-, County in Ohio.
SL: And that's a small town?
GL: Yes, one county north of Columbus, Ohio.
SL: What kind of house did you grow up in?
GL: A great big old farmhouse.
SL: And you lived on a farm?
GL: I lived on a farm with my grandparents, my mother, and my sister.
SL: Did you enjoy growing up?
GL: Well, of course.
SL: Can you remember any kind of funny stories that your grandfather may have told you or your grandmother or anything funny that happened to any of you?
GL: I don't know that it was funny, but I remember very well that with my grandfather being born in 1880, down near the Ohio River, that in his lifetime and he lived to be 90, he went from oxen and absolutely nothing motorized to watching the moon shot.
SL: What exactly does that mean? [Laughs]
GL: That means he watched Neil Armstrong land on the moon and walk on the moon and he watched it on television and in his lifetime there were no airplanes, no cars at the beginning, no no tractors, nothing motorized and then he actually lived long enough to see man land and walk on the moon.
SL: How did he handle all of this technology?
GL: He thought it was absolutely fascinating and wonderful.
SL: What do you think he'd think of stuff going on now with computers and Internet?
GL: He'd love it, he would love it. Now my grandmother would be more cautious, more uninterested, and more, well, "They have these fancy, fangled things these days," is what she would say.
SL: So she didn't like technology as much as your grandfather.
GL: No, I think instead of looking at as exciting and challenging, she just saw it as something she that was ignorant to. And so she, 'Pshaw-ed' it.
SL: Ok, and what about your mother?
GL: Mother was very quiet, Mother was ill when I was small. We lost my father during the war and went to live with my grandparents. And Mother was very quiet, very kind, very hard working.
SL: Did, so mostly your grandparents took care of you guys in discipline matters and things like that though.
GL: Well, they were running the show.
SL: OK, and your mother just.
GL: She ran the show too-.
SL: [Giggles]
GL: -But she was very quiet about it.
SL: OK, and um, [pause] what about your sister, what was she like?
GL: [Pause] Well, she was my third birthday present, she too was born on January 12, 1946 though [pause] and [pause] we got along real well when we were little kids and we were close, but we did all sorts of different activities in school and that kind of stuff.
SL: Were there any specific situations when you didn't get along or you fought over something that seems silly now?
GL: Of course. We fought over space, we fought over toys, we fought over who went up in the hay mow first, we fought over who drove the tractor, we fought over who owned what pet, we fought over who got what, what room we stayed in upstairs, um, why we had to share a birthday cake [giggle] and that kind of stuff.
SL: What kind of pets did you have?
GL: Anything you wanted. We had dogs and cats for sure all of the time. My grandfather fed any drop off that came. We had cows and pigs and chickens, all the normal farm animals.
SL: Anything funny that happened with any of them?
GL: Well, [chuckles], I don't know if it was funny, it caused my grandfather a lot of work. But, I went out to feed the hogs one evening and climbed up in that part of the barn and it was springtime and everything was thawing and I'm putting food in for the hogs down the shaft and the cows and that part of the barn gave way [laughs] and I went sliding down in with the hogs. I was scared.
SL: How old were you?
GL: I have no idea. I just got out of there and went running for my grandfather.
SL: Did he think it was funny or was he upset?
GL: No, being born in 1880, you take care of everything that comes along. And so, I hadn't realized it until years, matter of fact, maybe in the last 10, but in my grandfather's lifetime, he, uh, worked at the Polluck Steel Mill for 29 years, um, he went into farming, bought a bigger farm, he owned a, um, block making plant in Lima, Ohio, and I have a fun picture of him in front of his plant. He owned a grocery store and I've got a picture that says "Morgan Brothers Groceries." Uh, I hadn't really realized it, but he was very talented. And I die laughing at it now, but I helped him build a two car block garage on the farm and do all the footer and lay the block and I never thought about it when he was doing that, you know, he was not a construction person. And I was up there and we put the, the roofing trusses in and then we roofed the daggoned thing. And now that I look back I can't imagine my husband saying, "Oh, well, let's go out and build a garage," but my grandfather.
SL: So, he wasn't just a farmer, he was.
GL: He did a lot of things.
SL: OK, um what did your grandmother do all of this time?
GL: My grandmother was crippled, they were married 67 years when he died. And my grandmother did whatever my grandfather wanted to do and if she didn't like something he was going to do, she just raised her eyebrow and he dropped it. I only heard them argue one time. My sister and I thought the world was coming to an end. [Laughs]
SL: Um, what happened?
GL: I couldn't tell you what it was about.
SL: You just remember-.
GL: // Not at all. //
SL: // Actual arguing? //
GL: I remember he had surgery right before I was a senior in high school that was supposed to slow him down and he wasn't supposed to do anything. He was in the hospital three weeks and he got bored. And he would work his way after the evening meal out to the front porch swing and he'd sing and rock and all of a sudden he'd be, you know, on his way to the barn. And I remember, uh, whenever my grandmother was really upset she would sing, "Savior, Like a Shepherd, Lead as Much, We Need Thy Tender Care," and I heard my grandmother singing and I went flying out to the kitchen to see what was going on and my grandmother was in the kitchen door looking at my grandfather out on the tractor, out on the field spreading manure with the manure spreader which meant he had used a pitchfork and loaded the manure loader.
SL: All when he was supposed to be sick.
GL: And he, oh yes, he'd had his entire stomach opened. And at that time I guess, surgery wasn't as perfected. This would be the 1950s and here he is bouncing around the field with the tractor and the man, and you know and she's standing in the door singing, "Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us," and she says, "John Morgan, if you split yourself wide open and you die, it is not my fault. Now, John." And she just sang and sang.
SL: [Chuckles]
GL: And he'd say, "Now, Della, I'm not going to do anything I shouldn't do." And she'd say, "Now the doctor told you." "Oh, yes, I know what the doctor said, but I also know what I can do. Don't you grieve, don't you fret yourself none about me."
SL: How did your grandparents feel about you dating?
GL: How would anybody feel about their little girl growing up? I remember one of the first times I actually went out on a car date, this guy had chased me for months, and I wasn't really interested. And he was really handsome and I didn't want to date him and he came to the house to pick me up and he had his father's car, instead of his jalopy, and he came in and my grandfather always liked somebody who gave you a good big firm shake, handshake and looked you in the eye. Philip did that and my grandfather adored him and I didn't and it just you know. Barf, barf. [Laughter]
SL: So, did you ever go out with him again?
GL: Yeah, and I ran from him and I didn't want to date him, but my grandfather really liked him.
SL: Was there anyone you ever brought home that your grandfather didn't like?
GL: If he did, he didn't say anything.
SL: Well, what about your sister? What was she like?
GL: She dated the same guy for years and married him the day after she graduated. He was in physics at Ohio State University and they were married three years and got a divorce. That kind of stuff. Grandpa liked him. He was a neighbor.
SL: What kinds of, did the neighbors do anything together on the farm, get together and-.
GL: Oh yeah, they always helped each other when things went wrong.
SL: -Any kind of social occasions, or anything like that?
GL: The church had the social occasions. John Deere Tractor had an annual dinner and films in the school auditorium.
SL: Can you think of anything different or unusual that happened during any of these times.
GL: No, everybody thought that my grandfather should retire, but he never did. He struck oil on the farm and that subsidized his farming. My husband always said that my grandfather was his definition of an optimist. After the oil well, Grandpa had plenty of money and [coughs] um, he had a 1995, 1990, 1965 big Plymouth Fury that probably had 5,000 miles on it because he just drove it to the farm and back and to the little town about five miles away and he decided it was time to buy a car. And my grandmother was not really ready so they drove about 20 miles to the town where they had Buicks and he had his Fury all polished up and they pulled in and there was a big truck of Buicks getting ready to unload that still had all the wax on them and my grandmother, they had been married remember in the 60 years time, and my grandmother said, "John Morgan, if you trade this pretty car for one of those ugly things I'll divorce ya." And he said, "You don't want a new car?" And she said, "No, I like this car." He said, "All right." Backed up, drove out of the dealership, and said to her, "Why don't we go to Delaware and buy a tractor?" So here he was 89 years old and he drove 20 miles further the other direction and bought a great big very expensive tractor, with a shield, and probably it's one of the things that killed him, but my husband said, "To be almost 90 years old buying a tractor, now that's my definition of optimism."
SL: [Chuckles]
GL: 'Cause you knew he wasn't going to get his money's worth out of that tractor.
SL: Um, can you remember any types of stories that he would tell you when you were little?
GL: Oh yeah, he used to tell ghost stories, and I can't remember all, I can just remember he was telling one time about somebody who always liked to pull jokes on people. And they told something about there was a ghost in this hollow down by the Ohio River and the guy was trying to make people believe it. And it was dark and it was late at night and the men were all out there and, uh, the guy who was trying to pull one over on this guy said, "Now under these conditions at this time you should see a ghost coming down that log." And they're all quiet and they're looking and he says, "Can you see it, can you see it?" And the guy says, "Well, not quite like you describe it, but I see two of them, the big one's looking over the little one's shoulder." And the guy that was trying to put something over on him took off running.
SL: [Laughs] Can you remember any other stories that he told you, like maybe when he was getting ready to put you in bed when you were real little or-?
GL: Oh.
SL: -Stories he would read to you or anything?
GL: He would tell stories, he didn't read stories. He could work my algebra problems in his head and [laughs] stuff like that. Um, he talked about growing up.
SL: What, what were some things that he would have told you?
GL: He was the youngest of 13 children.
SL: Wow.
GL: And he had a, his father had been married twice before his mother. And then when he died, much to my biological aunt's dismay, when they were going through the records and things, my great-grandfather had been married twice, but my grandfather's mother was a much younger woman and they just lived together, they never got married. And when my aunt that was an in-law discovered this in all the records in the trunk, and was saying, "Oh, my, my, my. My father-in-law was illegitimate." My biological aunt was quite upset that she got a kick out of that. And of course, I got a kick out of the fact that there were 13 kids and the last one was born to a [pause] much younger woman. Uh, he told a story one time about his uncle, I think it was, that, um, went out hunting and he run into the Indians and the Indians had, I guess with a tomahawk or something split him open and left him for dead.
SL: Which person was this?
GL: This would have been my grandfather's uncle.
GL: And he came home carrying his guts or his insides and should have died but they put him all back together and he lived through that.
SL: Wow.
GL: And then [laughs] he told about when this person was quite elderly, he came to their house and said to my grandfather's mother, "Luciney, it's time for me to die. Make up my bed, I'm going to get in it, and I'm not getting out again." And that's exactly what happened. [Laughter]
SL: Oh my gosh.
GL: Years later. But, um, Grandpa loved every minute of living and he was very much an open-minded Democrat, but he would vote for the best man. However, in the 27 years that I lived and knew him, the Republicans [both chuckle] never put up any good men. And so he would argue politics with my uncle every Sunday. And when, he was hard of hearing, and when my husband would sit and try to talk to him, my grandfather, we were born in 1943 in the middle of World War II, my grandfather'd say, "Now, my boy, you remember Wilson, don't ya?" Or, he'd talk about old FDR or talk about the time that Warren G. Harding, who was from Marion, Ohio, which was basically where we were, um, came to talk to the farmers to get re-elected and all he did was put the farmers down. [Laughter] And, stuff like that.
SL: What about your grandmother? Do you remember her telling you stories?
GL: Uh, Grandma read stories and Grandma rocked you. And Grandma was always there. And Grandma was crippled, she was crippled when my mother was born or when she had the twins when she fell on the ice and bent her leg backwards and had twins at six months. And Grandma would watch for our school bus every morning coming down the other side of the farm and she'd have our coats ready and our lunches ready and she'd have her cold cream jar out to give us a nickel for ice cream. And then we would come home from school, she'd be at the front door, and she'd open the door and she'd take our coats, and our lunch boxes and help us get our books down and see if we wanted a snack or whatever.
SL: So, she was pretty much in charge // had things ready to go. //
GL: // Oh, // she was yeah, she got up and cooked my grandfather a great big breakfast at five in the morning and then when it was time to get us up to catch the school bus, she would have our breakfast on the table and call us. And we'd come running downstairs. Now mind you, there wasn't central heat in this big old farmhouse, and so we'd get dressed downstairs by the heat. But, we would come running downstairs and she would sit down on the stool that was higher than we were and talk to us and she'd drink a cup of coffee while we had our breakfast.
SL: And, but you don't remember, did she talk about when she was growing up or anything like that?
GL: Oh, she told one story I wouldn't tell you on tape about being the youngest and she married my grandfather when she was 18 and pretty much she realized that her parents, her father was a German immigrant, uh, her parents had pretty much decided that she was going to live at home and take care of them and she was not going to get married. And so when she met my grandfather and she realized that they wouldn't let her do it, they ran off and got married.
SL: Oh, wow. But they were obviously in love, and stayed together for many, // many years.//
GL: // 67 years // and had five children.
SL: Well, thank you very much, I appreciate your time.
GL: You're more than welcome.
SL: There was one more story I remember you telling me when I was little. If you would please tell me that real quick. Um, something about when you moved and.
GL: OK, I know what you're talking about. My grandfather took care of any stray cat. He just put big, he milked cows, and he would just put out big bowls of milk right straight fresh from the cows. My uncle was in the lumber business and they lived quite a ways away. And I remember the little neighbor girl teaching me that if somebody had kittens or puppies and you'd look between their legs and you could find the knob, that might mean that you would get to keep it, but if it didn't have a knob, you couldn't keep it because it would have kittens or puppies. [Laughter] And so, sure enough, my aunt and uncle came and they decided to take two kittens home and they named them Timmy and Tommy. And, they took these kittens, oh gosh, to Cleveland where they lived or somewhere way far away and about two or three months after they took the kittens, they came back and visited the farm. They brought the cats, the kittens, and they did this two or three times and they had these kittens a couple of years and all of a sudden my aunt was upset because Timmy had disappeared after they had taken him back home. They visited and brought the cats and then went back home. And two years later, I was out in the barnyard when Timmy, [laughing] this cat that had been missing for two years.
SL: How many hours away did they live?
GL: Oh, they lived four, or five or six hours away. This cat stuck its head under the barnyard fence and just came running through the barnyard going, "Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow." And, [laughs] I remember we called and we had a crank telephone. We called my aunt and uncle and we told them that Timmy was found. He was home on the farm. So, after that, they visited Timmy on the farm. They didn't try to take him back to Cleveland or Geneva on the lake or someplace where they lived.
SL: [Laughs]
GL: That was quite a cat tale that we always had and we had the cat for a long time after that.
SL: Thank you.