An Autobiography: Chapter 16, The Outdoor Privie

| 7/18/2012 10:05:21 AM

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My paternal Grandfather, Marcus William Moore, was born in 1866 and died in 1953. He was born and raised in Kentucky, with the exception of two years when the family moved to Abilene, Kansas. Grandpa was about four when they went there, and he told us kids how he and the other boys followed Wild Bill Hickok, the famous sheriff, around, admiring his guns. Marcus married Nora Taylor, and every time I see an old film with Una O’Connor, that wonderful character actress, I am amazed at how she resembled my grandmother. 

Marcus Moore 

Marcus William Moore 

I loved to visit my grandparents when I was a child. I remember Grandpa’s breakfast was “soakums,” as he called it − slices of bread with coffee poured over them. Tracy and Marc called him “chew-tobacco-spit” because he always had an old can on the floor beside his combination straight  and rocker chair, which he used to spit his tobacco juice in. I have always loved pumpkin pie, but I couldn’t eat Grandma’s pies. I think she left the sugar out.

My maternal Grandfather was born around 1848, in Hamburg, Germany, and came to America when he was twelve, traveling on a sailing ship. He landed in New York City, and by train and stage coach the family arrived in Campbell County, Kentucky. He married Ellen Daugherty, whose father was a Christian minister. I was three years old when my Grandmother died, and I remember seeing her laid out in the living room of their farmhouse atop Visalia hill. I didn’t go into the room, but instead stared at the lifeless body from the doorway. I don’t remember what I thought or whether anyone explained the situation to me. I imagine it was a very puzzling sight for a child of three.

It was about that same time that I was out playing in the yard one day while my parents were visiting in the house. I always had a bushy head of hair, and on this day, some bees got into my hair. I ran into the house screaming and rolling around on the floor; I suffered from those bee strings for some time.

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