Thursday, February 6, 2014

#52Ancestors #6 Rosanna Jane Johnston Herring: Living in a Rented Store Building

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Amy Crow has posted a challenge on her blog "No Story Too Small".

(L) Rosanna (R) Martha

Rosanna Jane Johnston Herring

Rosanna is my paternal grand aunt and sister of my grandmother Martha Johnston Sowders. Aunt Rosie did a wonderful job of 'filling in' after the death of my Grandmother. She has no children or grandchildren left to keep her memory going so it's important for me to share that knowledge so that she will not be forgotten.

Rosanna Jane Johnston
b. 1 Oct 1877 Eutaw, Limestone, Texas
m. Abt. 1912 to Asa William (Ace) Herring
d. 10 Aug 1962 Farmers Branch, Dallas, Texas
She had one child born between 1913-1919.
Her husband and child died before 1920.
No information is available for her husband and child.
Aunt Rosie

Aunt Rosie lived in a rented store building located in downtown Kosse,Texas.  I don't know why or when she moved into the building but it was after 1940 or maybe 1950.  I suspect it was for convenience. It was a great location for a senior citizen. Everything she needed - food, banking, post office, and other basic needs - was a few steps away. I have no memory of her living anyplace except in the store. It was her home.

Going to visit Aunt Rosie was always an exciting experience that I will never forget.

Kosse is a very small town located in Limestone County, Texas. The old buildings makes one feel they are stepping back in time to the good ol' Western days. Adjoining buildings line both sides of the downtown area. The sidewalks were made of wooden planks similar to the ones you see in Western movies. Hitching posts were still available when Aunt Rosie lived there. She lived next to the Jewelry store. The building on the other side of her was vacant. (The image does not show all the buildings on her side of the street. Today the bank is located on the opposite side of the street).

Aunt Rosie's front door was centered between two large showcase windows. She was an excellent seamstress and made heavy drapes to cover the large windows. The building was very long with no partitions to section off rooms. It was like living in a wide, open space. Curtains dangled from rails that were mounted on the ceiling. One for each bed. The curtains were pulled around the bed at nighttime just as you would in a hospital room.

Everything within eyes view and everything touched was antique. Rocking chairs, dressers, tables, and even the bed frames with double mattresses. It all seemed appropriate for living in a store. Photos covered the plywood walls; some with elegant gilded frames and others with thick expensive wood. The shapes varied; oval, square, and rectangular. It would have made an excellent antique store.

(L) Me (C) cousin (R) my sister Cindy

The kitchen was at the back of the building. It was Aunt Rosie's favorite place to sit. Her treasured pot-bellied wood stove sat in the middle of the kitchen near two tables. The beans cooked on that old wood stove were the best I have ever tasted. She had a butane stove, too. She cooked cornbread in an iron skillet to go along with the beans. That was always topped off with a slice of delicious home-made pie or Aunt Rosies favorite -  vanilla ice cream. Sometimes we had both! We ate at the 'kids' table that was protected with cheesecloth tablecloths.

Aunt Rosie had a way of making everyone feel special. She had a beautiful set of dishes with tiny roses around the edges. Daddy's fingers were too large to use the cups so Aunt Rosie reached into the back of the shelf and pulled out a 'man size' cup for him to use. Of course, I wanted to join the coffee crowd. Aunt Rosie would fill the little cup with milk and add a few drops of coffee just for me.

Aunt Rosie was kind, gentle, and very loving. She always made me feel like I was an adult. I was like a little chihuahua nipping at her heels. Every step she took, I took. The post office was located inside the bank. She would take me with her to 'collect' the mail. She allowed me to use the key on the post office box and carry the mail back to her home.

She would give me and my little sister a nickel each so we could go to the hardware store and get a soda pop and candy. Yup. A nickel. Four cents for the soda and a penny for the candy. Ahhhhh... those days!

Aunt Rosie and me

Aunt Rosie always smelled like flowers. She had vases of fresh-cut flowers spread throughout the building. She is holding flowers in almost every photo I have her.

We always visited Eutaw Cemetery where most of our family is buried. Of course, that meant more flowers.

We didn't have freeways so the trips to see Aunt Rosie took much longer in comparison with today. Our visits were limited to two or three times a year. As she grew older, Daddy encouraged her to come live with us. She refused to leave 'home'.

One day in late May 1962  Daddy received a phone call stating Aunt Rosie had been placed in a nursing home located in Groesbeck. Daddy was furious. We didn't even know she was sick! We piled into the car and drove to Groesbeck. Daddy asked her once again if she would come stay with us. This time she consented. I patted her hand all the way back to Dallas.

A downstairs room was emptied and prepared especially for her. Our family doctor, Dr. Heaberlin, agreed to make house calls. Mama took leave from her job and nursed Aunt Rosie.

Aunt Rosie weakened quickly as the cancer took it's toll. She reached a point to where she didn't want anything to eat except vanilla ice cream. The doctor said that was normal and just give whatever she wanted.

On August 10, 1962 Mama tried to get her eat soft vegetables. She refused. She told Mama she just wanted 'a little bit of vanilla ice cream'. Mama went to the kitchen to get the ice cream and returned to find Aunt Rosie limp and not responsive. That day we lost the sweetest 'Rose' that ever bloomed.

Family, friends, and neighbors gathered in the old store building after the funeral. 
Many memories were shared that day. 

I will never forget my great grand Aunt Rosie. She was truly a 'grand' Aunt.

Beam me up Cathy -- (back to top)

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