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One of The Best People I Have Known In My Life
Old 03-14-2023, 12:33 PM
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gitano gitano is offline
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Default One of The Best People I Have Known In My Life

Perlina Webber Mckenzie, my maternal grandmother. AKA "Big Mamma". EVERYONE but her kids, called her that. She died a day before her 100th birthday.

Her folks emigrated from Ireland in the 1870s after the Potato Famine that struck Ireland. She married my grandfather, Oscar Murphy whose parents also emigrated from Ireland. I knew my maternal great grandfather, Henry McKenzie, the man in the picture, but not well as my mother was the youngest of seven children. He was already in his 90s when my folks got married. He made it to 100. His life was hard. These folks were genuine pioneers of the American West. They migrated seasonally from Oklahoma to Texas, fought (losing battles) with Indians, were raided by Jayhawkers from Kansas, and much more. The story is, (and backed up by a newspaper article that I have never seen), that Henry killed one of the last grizzly bears in Oklahoma. WITH A KNIFE!

Big Mamma 'ruled the roost'. Her sons were still afraid of her when she was in her 90s. It was funny to watch these grown, fairly gnarly men, acquiesce to her. Seems consistent with Irish women, or so I have heard in recent years. She knew more about the plants of the American West than any of my botany professors. She could make "stuff' from them that you would find hard to believe. "Cough medicine" was honey and whiskey. She probably used more than a gallon of Merthiolate and Mercurichrome on me in my 'wonder years'. I never saw her hit any of us grandkids, but she could pinch your arm 'til you yelped! She was a staunch Baptist, but this was before the fanatics got hold of that denomination. She didn't wear her religion on everyone's nose. I loved that woman.


PS - I forgot to mention that Big Mama married an Irishman - Oscar Murphy. Immigrants tended, (and still do), to marry within their culture. Mostly because that's who they 'hang around with.'

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Be nicer than necessary.

Last edited by gitano; 03-22-2023 at 12:56 PM..
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