Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.

Grandma Stories


An adult male chicken, the rooster has a promi...

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Grandma and Grandad Reeves used to live in Park Hill, Oklahoma. (Near Tahlequah.) Before that they lived in Stinnett, Texas, Olive, Sapulpa, and The Ford. After that, they lived in C-Town. 

Grandma’s philosophy was a person ought to move once every five years so she could keep her closets cleaned out.

Grandma raised seven children and worked alongside Grandad most of the time. After nearly all their kids were grown, they started a chicken farm at Parkhill.

Someone must have sent a memo that it was a fantastic time to get into the chicken business to all the WWI veterans.  Once the G’s got in it, the bottom dropped out.

They kept the farm, but moved back to Green Country to make a living in the oilfield.

After a while, though, they moved back to Park Hill and lived there until their house, which had eleven-teen chimneys, burned down. It must have burned to the ground, because we went to visit them not long after and I don’t remember seeing any of the house still standing.

Grandma and Grandad lived in the barn while they rebuilt. (Later, they lived in a garage while they built their house at Dog Center.) No matter where she lived, Grandma liked to keep a milk cow and some laying hens.

I don’t know where the milk maker and egg layers stayed after the G’s made the barn their bedroom/living room/kitchen. And I have no idea where they showered.

If I were guessing, I’d guess they bathed in one of those square metal tubs, but I really don’t know. 🙂

One summer while the G’s lived at Park Hill, Deb and I went to stay with them for a week. I hate to say it, but Park Hill could possibly be the most BORING place in Oklahoma–for a ten and seven-year-old at least.

We read the books we packed until we were cross-eyed. We played Grandma’s treadle sewing machine, pretending it was an organ. We walked to the mailbox and back several times a day. We climbed the tall trees in front of the house and tried to see all the way to Texas, looking for Aunt Carol. (She didn’t pop in.)

One day we climbed the peach tree, next to the bedroom window. It was big for a peach tree, but brittle. About the time I had my feet higher than my head, the brances I held onto broke and I landed on Debbie, who was sitting in the crotch of the tree. We were both about to tumble out, when Grandad, who was in the garden, ran over and caught us.

I was hoping to break an arm so we could go home, but I failed.

Then they took us fishing. Not in a pond. We went fishing in the Illinois River! That was either before the canoes started herding down the river or else we were on an arm where canoes didn’t go. 

I love fishing! Grandma said they took me fishing for the first time when I was 6 weeks old. (But I really don’t remember.) When I got big enough to hold the pole, they’d give me a cane pole with a weighted line on it, but no hook so I couldn’t hurt myself. She said I’d sit for hours, trying to catch something. Almost made her feel guilty.

Back to the Illinois River–We fished and fished, waded out in the river, waded back in and had a ball. We had a picnic, then fished some more. I don’t remember how many fish we caught, but we had so much fun doing it!

Grandad always kept hunting dogs, which he called wolf hounds. They chased coyotes rather than wolves, since wolves are kinda scarce in Oklahoma. He kept quite a few, and they always had a community pen where they lived.

Except for one dog. His name was Lightfoot–named after the people Grandad got him from. Lightfoot was impossible to keep in the dog run because his favorite thing was chasing chickens, and he’d tunnel his way out to do it.

As I said earlier, Grandma always kept laying hens, but she didn’t want anyone or anything chasing them. Not even her favorite grandaughter. She said it made them lay square eggs.

Finally, Grandma’d had it with Lightfoot. “Julius, if you don’t keep that dog penned up, I’m going to shoot him!”

“That shotgun doesn’t shoot straight, Abigail,” he answered with a slow grin. “You couldn’t hit him.”

“Oh, is that so?” Grandma gritted her false teeth. “See that branch on the tree?” (It was hanging right over the dog’s head about 10 feet high.)

“What about it?”

“Watch me hit it.” Grandma took aim at the tree branch and pulled the trigger.

They had Lightfoot’s funeral the next day.

To this day, when Dad tells that story, he laughs until he has tears running down his face. And to make matters even worse, Grandma made Grandad dig the grave for the hound.

Grandma and Grandad Reeves knew what it took to make a good marriage. Move often. If you fish enough, you can forget your problems. Protect your chickens and keep a shotgun handy to blow away sneaky varmints. 😉  

Author: Susan Shay

For as long as I can remember, I've loved two things--reading and people--and that led me to become a writer. Many of my stories are set in Small Town Worlds. I'm a wife, mother, sibling and an aunt. I have a deep faith in God, and an exciting life in Christ. Maybe I shouldn't be (after all, he's God!) but I'm constantly amazed at the things He's up to. :)

2 thoughts on “Grandma Stories

  1. I remember playing with you all at your Grandma and Grandpa’s place at Dog Center. There was a hen house just north of their house if I’m not mistaken. Your mom ALWAYS included me on your trips to Lake Keystone, Old Keystone, New Mannford etc. Come to think of it she may not have realized I was with her. I just blended in with all of her kids!! I loved every minute of it.

    • Mom loved having you along, Marsha. Debbie and I didn’t fight with you around. At least, not as much. LOL. You’ve always been so much fun to be with, Mom and Dad enjoyed having you there, too.
      Boy I miss those days.