S: Memories Of Josephine Johnson
FC: "Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow." | Memories and Letters For Our Dearest Grandmother
1: Like branches on a tree, our lives may grow in different directions yet our roots remain as one. Made with Love By Your Family | Daughter Wife Mother Grand Mother Great-Grandmother | Happy 95th Birthday! | April 13, 1916 Mary Josephine Johnson
3: Grandma Jo, Of the many good memories I have of time spent with you, the one that I think about most is from one of our visits to Oregon. I was around six years old when we visited you. I was a typical farm boy and loved playing in the dirt. I remember being very frustrated that all you had at your house was grass and concrete. I wanted to go out and get dirty. I remember being excited when we made a day trip out to Uncle Bob and Aunt Gerry's house. In fact, when we got to their house, the first thing that I asked Mike was "you got any good dirt?" I think that he must have answered yes because I remember coming in the house after quite some time outside playing and being absolutely covered in dirt. I certainly wasn't frustrated any more. Love, | David
4: Dear Grandma Jo, I have such fond memories of spending holidays at your house as a child. They are memories filled with laughter, fun, and love. One of my favorite memories involves several of us (your grandkids) acting out the song, "The Battle of New Orleans". I have no idea how or why we started doing it, but every year we would put that record on and act it out over and over again. We did it so often that we remembered the actions from one year to the next. We used the pillows from the couches as the "bags" that carried "a little bacon...and a little beans". When the song said, "...they ran through the briars...ran through the brambles..." we would run around the living room like maniacs. Our favorite part of the song was pretending that one of us was the "alligator" who lost his mind after "we filled his head with cannon balls and powdered his behind."
5: Our most treasured family heirlooms are our sweet family memories. | I can't believe we never got in trouble for being so wild! I guess we could have, and I just blocked it out because of how much fun we were having. Thank you for providing an environment where our family had an opportunity to share life together. I have many sweet childhood memories and I'm thankful that you are a part of them. Happy 95th birthday! I love you! | Dana
6: Dearest Grandma: I have been looking forward to your big birthday for so long now and wouldn’t you know it? Now it’s here! I am sure it won’t come as a big surprise to you that you have played a very large part in my life. I can look back on my memories and see you helping when I was little to do things like color, write, tie my shoes, and clean the house. It was always a big deal to me when you would come and get me and have me stay the night at your place. We’d play cards and look at magazines. I’d love to ride in your shiny black Ford Galaxie 500 with the red interior-what a nice car it was. You would take me to church with you, and sometimes we’d stop by the school or go shopping. You were so much fun to be with. You were patient and kind and had answers to all my questions. You were my hero and you still are. As I got older you’d watch football and NASCAR with me and I just loved that. At the time, Mom & Dad were too busy to do much of that since they were busy keeping things running around the house, so having someone I could cuddle with on the couch and watch cartoons or Ramblin Rod with was really special. You were there week after week, month after month, year after year, and I cannot express how grateful I am to you for spending so much of your life with us. You would help us girls with our homework projects, and we’d all pitch in on special dinners.
7: Many thanks to you for all the kitchen tips and how to lessons you gave me over the years. You are a fabulous cook and, I will always remember how wonderful it was to eat Sunday dinner at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. You helped me to ride a bike and learn to sew, and I thank you for teaching my Mom to do all those things too because she was just as wonderful as you at all those things. In the summer, we all would work in the garden and harvest the produce and preserve a lot of delicious things that were the rant and rave of all our friends and neighbors. When you are raised that way, it never leaves you and I am proud the traditions of good Christian living is alive and thriving in my house and for all you have done for my 4 children throughout the years- I thank you. And for being a rock to lean on in hard times-I thank you. And for letting me witness in action a strong, beautiful, fearless, intelligent woman maneuver through the struggles this life can dish out-I thank you. You really made me believe that I could do anything when you told me I could. There were times you were my biggest fan. You sat there in my Christmas plays and band concerts, you supported my art and my love of cars, and I cannot thank you enough for your “tough love” when I needed it and for every little thing you did that may have gone unnoticed-I thank you and I say all that to say this: I LOVE YOU VERY MUCH!! Always. | Cindy
8: When you look at your life, the greatest happinesses are family happinesses. ~Joyce Brothers | Dear Mother, My kids all writing letters to you made me want to write one too. As far as I'm concerned you are the BEST Mother in the whole wide world. You have always been such an inspiration to me. You have always strived to do your very best in all you do. You are my ROCK! I can't imagine what it would be like to be a widow at the age of 40 but you handled it with such grace and poise. It was a big responsibility but you were able to handle it just fine. Thank goodness you were a school teacher as most women in those times never worked outside the home. Then you moved clear across the country and were here when our children were little. They all loved you so much and were thrilled when you would come and spend the weekends with us.
9: Then you married Loren who was such a blessing to our family. He gave our kids the Grandpa they had never known. He was such a good Grandpa and the kids all loved him dearly as did Bob and I. He certainly was a Father to Bob since his Dad died when he was quite young and he really needed that too. They had such good times taking care of cattle together. Then losing your home to a tornado at the age of 89 - most people this would completely have devastated them but you jumped right in there and took care of everything and got a new home and new furniture and made a new life for yourself in El Dorado Springs. I'm so glad you got to live closer to family as that is such a help especially as you get older. I think it is awesome that you are turning 95 - what a blessing!! Now remember what Leon said, "When you get to 100, we will have a really big party!!" and that's the truth! Also remember that I love you very much and thank you for being such a wonderful Mother to me!! All my love, | Gerry
10: Happy Birthday Mother!!!! We first want to congratulate you on having reached the milestone of your 95th birthday. It’s something that few others have had the privilege of achieving. There are many things I could comment about, and it would take a book to mention many of them. The following comments will reflect the growing up years and some of the things we experienced those years. I suppose the logical place to begin is simply the beginning. My first memory of you was you running to the house from the brooder house, kicking off your rubber boots as you came. Harold Dean was carrying me to the house under his arm like a sack of flour, and I was screaming and bleeding from the cuts on my face. That day was my first memory of life. The rest of the events of that time are foggy, but apparently I healed, survived, and no major damage was done. I realize many, many other things happened in childhood. I want to mention a couple that have stuck with me through the years. Gerry and I spent many happy hours together in our younger years. One thing I vividly remember is the time you told her to pull my | teeth because I had bitten her. She proceeded to try to cut a piece of binder twine into with a dull butcher knife. When the knife finally cut the twine, it proceeded to stab here in the forehead. She received tons of sympathy, and I got a spanking. Then there was time she and I were misbehaving, doing something we were told not to do. Imagine that! We thought if we would run from you, we could at least delay the spanking, if not avoid it. Everything was going fine, and you were even having a good time chasing us until Gerry and I had a collision. Then again, she got the sympathy, and I got a spanking. A guy just can’t win. Fast forward a few years and we were putting up hay on a hot August afternoon. The traveling movie was coming to Montevallo that night, and we wanted to go. Dad not being real keen on movies and the haying had to be done, so he said no. We took our case to you, I don’t know how you did it, but we got to go to the movie. Then there was the time we were again putting up hay, and I was driving the tractor with the buck rake on the front. Dad was so proud of that rake; he told me I better not tear it up or I’d be in big trouble. Well guess what, I turned to close to the fence, caught the two
11: outside teeth, and they broke out. Dad was fit to be tied, and my life had very little value at that moment. Again, you intervened, and I was spared whatever he had in mind for me. Then came the fifties, the drought, and Dad’s illness. I’m convinced that it was your strong will, dedication, devotion to family, and ability to make us a living that made things much more bearable for us during those trying times. Then came the time you became a single parent. Even though we were old enough to take care of ourselves by then, you provided advice, encouragement, and guidance for us through those years that helped what we became in life. I remember returning from school in March of that year and telling you I would stay there that summer, put in the crops, take care of the farm, and then see what I wanted to do. Little did I know that I would be there for the next 42 years. My younger years had me doing anything but farming, but God knows best. After a few years of struggling to get the farm going good again, more change was coming. Your moving to Oregon and me being drafted into the Army changed or lives | from the day to day contact we had had to one of long distant contact, but it didn’t change my love, respect and devotion I have always had for you. After the Army, I returned to the farm, Ann and I were married, and we remained there the next 35 years, taking our turn of making a living and rearing a family. Even though things were tough at time and frustrating at times, they were mostly good years. I could not end this without again expressing my thanks and love to you for all the things you taught me, for supporting me, and just being my Mom. You are a strong and resourceful person that has had many challenges to face, but you met those challenges with grit, determination, and confidence that you would see things through. You know, as I do, that no one gets to choose their parents, but God knew what he was doing when he gave me you. Again, thanks for everything. Enjoy this occasion to the fullest, and, who knows, maybe I can write you another letter of memories in five years. With all my Love Forever, | Jay
12: Hello Grandma! I believe a “Happy Birthday!” is in order. I’d like to take this opportunity to reflect on some of my favorite memories of growing up with you and Papa just down the road in Corvallis. The first thing to come to mind is “the weekend”, as in every weekend, so it seemed, you were either visiting us in Canby or we would visit you. Of course jumping into Papas lap and searching his shirt pocket for a treat always yielded a roll of Life Savers or some yummy bubble gum. I’m sure you had something to do with those little treats that meant so much to me. At your house, I can still close my eyes and hear Roy Acuff on the stereo. I can see the pattern on the linoleum floor of all the little circles. I can smell the ham sandwiches cooking in the brand new microwave. I can taste the Swiss Miss hot cocoa with little marshmallows you’d make for me. I couldn’t wait to play with the big yellow squeaky duck on wheels that was always in your closet. I loved your brick fireplace and the long wooden matches, and the canister of crystals you could throw on the fire to make the flames change colors. I thought your gold lamp in the living room was so neat because little beads of oil would slide down the strings when you turned it on. I remember the smell of the starfish sitting on the headboard of your spare room. I’m sure my sisters had a lot of fun dressing me up in your gown, wig, and jewelry. I remember the bicycles on your back patio. Yours was stationary and Papas was a 3-wheeler with a basket.
13: Your big picture window looked out to the swimming pool across the street and there was a hole in the glass from a BB gun. You had a little step stool that was also a chair just my size. I loved the whipped cream that you’d always make for me anytime I wanted. The big dinners we’d have at your table and Uncle Harry would join us. The smell of Roi-Tan cigars. I played with Hot Wheels cars that you had confiscated from kids in your class over the years. Your house was always warm. Always inviting. Full of love and laughter. It was my home away from home. The move from Corvallis to Missouri was a very big trip for me. I was 9 years old. The four of us setting out across the country with a rental truck and your Chevy. I’d ride in the truck for a while with the fellas, then I’d ride with you for a while. You told me all about the country we were seeing. Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, and Missouri. We played EyeSpy, and read license plates, and drank rootbeer, and ate at Dennys. I didn’t know what it meant that you were moving so far away. But I totally understand now that you and Papa wanted to be close to family. I’m so thankful that you lived so close for the most important years of my life, and that you and Papa were there to demonstrate how special family is to each other. Enjoy your birthday with your family. We all love you so very much. And make each day special! | -Michael Marcum
14: Hi Grandma, Wow - where do I start? I don't think you will ever really know how much of an impact you and Grandpa had on my life! All of my memories of growing up are with you and us together on the weekends. Either we packed up and took that trip to Corvallis to "Go the Grandma's House" or you came to us. I remember the highlight of Friday afternoons for your car to roll up in the driveway and us running out to greet you! Always smiles and hugs and happy times. We couldn't wait for you to open your trunk where you had all kinds of goodies to check out! There was ALWAYS candy involved, both in the trunk and of course the lifesavers in Grandpa's pocket! Of course let's not forget the latest fun garage sale find you always brought too! I loved helping you with your School projects the most! I remember helping you grade papers and helping you out with one of the many fun art projects you were always working on. Remember those crazy string puppets that we made out of bright colors? Those were the best of all! I was the envy of 4th grade with all the fun crochet items you made - I think I had 15 ponchos! For your information, I still have one of them. You made all three of us these intricate ones out of tiny crochet thread. Cindy's was blue, Connie's was red and mine was green... I will never part with it, it's still so precious to me!
15: I know one of my favorite things to do was brag about you being a teacher and how "young" my Grandma was! I was in 5th grade and you were 55, I remember my teacher saying "WOW" you have such a young Grandma! I of course just beamed! Another one of my many memories was looking forward to playing all of the games you had at your house, remember that big wooden puzzle of the United States? We must have put that together 500 times - to this day when I think of the map of the United States my mind goes back to that map to place everything in my head. I can thank you for my fast typing skills too, as I spent endless hours on that old manual typewriter, punching those big, long heavy keys! I loved all the big Sunday dinner's we had at your house and Holidays. I remember a Christmas I didn't sleep a wink because we had a house full you put us kids in the living room in sleeping bags practically under the Christmas tree! All I stared at all night was this green foil wrapped box with my name on it! Of course no Christmas at Grandma's house was ever official unless you had the big plastic floor candles on each side of you fireplace plugged in and lit up! | Cont.
16: Cruising the streets of Corvallis was always a highlight of our weekends with you too! Walking to the School, getting to take a walk around the block was a big thing too since we lived in the country and didn't get to do anything like that! When we were older we ever got to go to Payless and get carmel corn - we'd thought we had died and gone to heaven - we were big kids now! Of course what Grandma story from me to you would ever be complete without remembering the dress up stories! Putting on your wigs, wearing your lingerie and satin robes and putting pretty much every piece of costume jewelry you had on me (oh yes... and on my poor little brother Michael too) hee hee~ Good times Grandma - that's what I will always remember about you! Nothing but good times. I still brag you up today! How you were elected for Mrs. Stockton and reading the endless list of community groups and volunteer groups you belong to, your beautiful handwriting to this day, your still living alone and driving well into your 90's - you were amazing then and AMAZING today! I couldn't be more proud of you then I am today on your 95th Birthday! I take after you with my coloring, my health and I hope my attitude. I am following in your footsteps as is Mom and I just want you to know how much I love you and the indelible mark you have left on my heart. Even after you are gone... the heart will go on! I LOVE YOU GRANDMA!!! Love always, | Cheryl
17: When you look at your life, the greatest happinesses are family happinesses. ~Joyce Brothers
18: My dearest Grandma, What a wonderful time for us all to be celebrating! Your very special 95th birthday. I want you to know that you have always been my hero. You are supportive, understanding and a true joy to everyone. We can talk about anything and we have spent many late nights doing just that. I have so many fond memories of you and I will always be grateful and appreciative that for so many significant events in my life you have been there. I loved having you close when we were kids. Every weekend dinner, every holiday, every special moment included all of us together. It was difficult when you moved back to Missouri but I am happy that the other grandkids got to experience the same closeness that we enjoyed. You’ve done a great job of sharing yourself and sharing the love!
19: Some of my most special times with you were during my trips back to Missouri when I was in my twenties, and working long ,long hours. I would schedule trips away from the craziness to visit you, Grandpa and all of the family there and have such a wonderful and relaxing time. They became regular trips for me and I always looked forward to them. We visited lots of family, spent time at the Senior Center, and drove in the most unbelievable rain storms I’ve ever seen. And one time I will always remember with a smile was on a recent trip when Kes and Cambria were with me and we drove to Branson by way of, I don’t know, Louisiana or something like that. We got so lost but decided to have fun with it and had the most wonderful time in our long drive, laughing all the way. You have always meant the world to me. I absolutely love you to pieces! | Connie
20: He wraps you in goodness-beauty eternal. He renews your youth-you’re always young in his presence. Psalm 103:5
21: The family with an older person in it possesses a Jewel. You’re not only my mom but my friend. The wrinkles of friendship are fine creases left by years of sharing tears and laughter-they are the lines that add beauty and grace to this wonderful gift from God, reminding us of the journey we could not have traveled alone. It is to bring freely about children and grand children, to laugh loudly over shared memories, and to relax completely in conversation. My heart is full of memories; the sweetest are tied to you, Mom. As we age, we appreciate more, remember less, and realize how good they both can be. Ah, how good it feels! The hand of you...MomI am who I am, in part, because my life was touched by the kindness of you. Love, | Leon
22: Dear Grandma, Where does a person begin reminiscing about the stories and life of someone that has been such an integral part of our family? I have been blessed to share in 38 of your 95 years of life. Your guidance and influence knows no boundaries or limits. I think of all of the children’s lives that you have had the opportunity to positively impact over the years as an educator, Sunday school teacher, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. Your knowledge and wisdom has been spread to an inordinate amount of people over your 95 years and I can’t imagine a better person to share and provide the great gift of information. Thank you so much for everything that you have done for me and my family. I would also like to thank you for providing such a great example and being such a positive role model for each and every one of us. I have a few stories that pop into my mind as I sit and think about my time with you. First, has to be the fireworks incident. | I would have been around 10 years old and was very excited to have just purchased my $5 worth of fireworks. Yes, it was possible to be ecstatic over the amount of fireworks that one could purchase on a mere $5. There I was, sitting on the hearth of your fireplace in your front room looking forward to going out and lighting my fireworks. I spent time organizing my selection of fireworks that consisted of everything from smoke bombs to roman candles. In order to enjoy the thrill of watching my fireworks explode, I first needed to light my punk. For some reason I felt that the best place to light my punk was directly above my bag of fireworks. This happens to be the point in time that my story becomes interesting. I remember, like it was yesterday, watching as my wooden match broke upon striking it. At that point the lit half of my match fell into my paper sack full of fireworks. I believe it took roughly two to three seconds before our happy little family gathering got completely interrupted. In a moments notice the room quickly resembled that of a battle zone.
23: Smoke from the smoke bombs filled the room, making it difficult to see or breathe. I remember bottle rockets and the fire balls from the roman candles flying through the air before falling to the ground after striking the walls. I can still vividly picture the look on Grandpa Loren’s face as he sat on the couch watching this melee take place. There must have been a million flying objects that flew right by his head as he sat there solid as a rock. In what seemed to be hours, probably more like a few seconds, my older brother Mike jumped into action. He quickly stomped out the burning bag that was causing such commotion. What could have been a major disaster turned into a few burns in the carpet and a story that has stood the test of time. I can also remember the trip that we took to Calgary, Canada to watch the National Finals Rodeo. I remember spending several fall days and evenings picking up the millions of walnuts that would inhabit your yard. I remember the yearly reenactment of me, my siblings and cousins performing “The Battle of New | Orleans” that managed to get better with each performance. I remember spending many Christmas Eve evenings gathered in your house with all of the family and just enjoying our time together. Grandma, there are so many great memories that I have of my time spent with and around you. I love you very much and do greatly appreciate everything you have done and everything you have stood for in your life. It has been a tremendous asset to each and every one of us to have such a positive influence in our lives and to see you live your life by example. You are truly a great and wonderful person. I Love You Grandma, | Brad
24: When I was around thirteen, I was just becoming a teenager, and I will never forget when I spent the week with you and Grandpa Loren. It was before school had started for the year. Grandpa and you took me to Springfield to the mall. I don’t think I had ever shopped there before; however, all of my friends shopped there. You guys took me for a surprise school shopping trip. I was so surprised. We shopped all day just for me. I got things that all of the kids at school were getting too. You bought me several outfits and accessories. I couldn’t wait that year to start school. Getting all of those new clothes gave me a self-esteem boost and made me excited for school. For a new teenager, it did wonders for my self-confidence. I thought it was the coolest thing. | Fondest Memory of Grandma Jo
25: I have so many wonderful memories of you. So many it’s hard to pinpoint just one. Grandma, you have been such a blessing in my life and in my children’s lives. I’m glad that my kids have gotten to know what a wonderful person you are. You are a person that makes others want to be better. You are a person that I don’t think anyone could ever fill your shoes. You are one of a kind! We love you! Love Always, | Leigh Ann
26: Grandmas are the heart, the root, and lifeblood of families. Grandmas offer warm hugs, sweet things to eat, sound advice, and genuine smiles, so when I think about my Grandma Jo, I reflect upon the fond memories I have of times spent at her house in Stockton with Grandpa Loren and all the family together on Christmas Eve. I remember believing in the spirit of Christmas and the magic of the season when I was young. With childlike innocence, I dreamed of Santa Clause and his reindeer flying through the air; because my brothers and father convinced me that the red light flashing in the sky above our car on the drive over to grandma’s was Rudolf’s nose. I was awestruck at that moment and knew it would be a wonderful night. I might have been one year older because I just had my birthday, but I still held onto the anticipation of presents, puzzles, toys, and all other wonderful things. I remember the real magic of it. I remember the joy of it. I associate all of these memories with Grandma Jo, and I want to recreate and pass these feelings on to my children.
27: When I think of being at grandma’s house, I remember not only the luxury in her gas fireplace, the intrigue and beauty of a decorative oil lamp, grandpa’s long horns, and wanting to sit on the leather couch, but I also remember playing games, eating good food, having fun, and laughing together. I remember my brothers, cousins, sister, and me all enjoying our time spent at her house, and I remember grandma having a record collection of which all of us kids would listen to and playact the “Battle of New Orleans.” Grandma created many fond memories for me. She is the matriarch of our family, but she is more than the top of our ancestral family tree, because she holds the place of a whole environment or atmosphere in my mind. She is a presence that I know and respect. I remember connecting to her, as she is the one that brought us all together. Thanks Grandma Jo and God bless. Love Always, | Scott
28: I remember when I was a child we would go Grandma's in the fall to help pick up walnuts. Us kids would mostly play during the day. We would have several wheelbarrow races, us guys would race all the way down the hill. Occasionally, we would give Leigh Ann a shove down the hill as well, (with brotherly love of course). After our day of picking and playing, Grandma would make us kids PBJ sandwiches and homemade cookies. Later, She would drive us to Hammonds Walnuts so we could cash-in our days work. | Mike
29: To many this wouldn't be a big deal but to us kids this was something we looked forward to every year!
30: Dear Mom, Congratulations on reaching your 95th birthday with all of these years with good health and energy. What a blessing. You have been a great mother for to me all these years. After my childhood years, we lived great distances from each other. First, Bunny and I lived in Virginia and our children grew up there. During most of this time, you lived in Oregon. After we moved to Missouri and you retired, we were close together for the first half of the 1980's. Then Bunny and I moved to Maryland in January of 1987. Then to Fredericksburg Virginia in July 1998. In September 2004 I brought Bunny to the Barone Care Center, and I moved back to Nevada in 2005. We have been able to spend time together since then. For me, it has been a pleasure for the past five years. With love, | Harold Dean
31: Our Ancestors | Steward