Tag Archives: Oral History

Cousins Connect

 

My cousin Ruth (left) with my maternal grandmother, Mildred Bundy, sometime in the 1960s

I met with my 79 year old cousin, Ruth, in hopes of gathering information about my maternal great-grandparents Lucy and Henry Bundy.  Ruth is my first cousin once removed and one of Lucy and Edward’s many descendants.  I’ve mentioned the size of the Hendrick family but I should tell you that the Bundy family is rather large in it’s own right.  Edward and Lucy had eight children: Edward, Naomi, Andrew, Rosie, Lucille, Floyd, Edna and Henry.  Ruth’s mother, Naomi, and my granddaughter, Henry, were siblings.

As the youngest granddaughter, my mother is nearly 25 years younger than Ruth and the two were never very close; therefore, my mother’s older sister contacted Ruth and explained the premise of my work.  Together, my mother and I drove to our cousin’s home, eager to learn more about our ancestors and a bit nervous to meet a woman who we hadn’t seen in years and heard was quite a character in her day.  We were greeted by a petite woman with cocoa brown skin who could be no more than 4′ 10″ tall in her most upright stance and seemed so fragile and meek in our embrace.  She was pleasant and beautiful! As we talked, I kept thinking how I hope my skin would be as soft as hers when I’m 79 years old.

Although she insisted that she couldn’t remember certain events, I thought Ruth had a terrific recollection of dates, names, and emotions.  She explained that she knew little about Edward and Lucy because she did not spend much time with them as a child.  One of the few memories she had of Lucy was staying with her on the day her mother gave birth to one of her younger sisters.  She did, however, remember her first cousin Virginia, whose mother Clementine Mack was Lucy’s sister.  I found this piece of information to be very helpful because now I know that Lucy was not an only child.  I may begin to search for Clementine and Lucy to piece together my great-grandmother’s story.  Ruth also shared that Clementine had three sons, one of whom worked on a cement truck.  My mother also remembered this first cousin whom she claimed was an older man who occasionally visited her father (Henry) when she was a child.

To my surprise, I not only learned a bit more about my ancestors but my mother and I enjoyed connecting with our living relative.  We laughed hysterically at some of Ruth’s stories about her father’s strict rules, my great-uncle Floyd’s carefree lifestyle, and of course my disdain for laundry.  After nearly 2 hours of storytelling, she invited me to visit again so that she could share more stories about my grandfather’s family and some of her photos.  I gave her a copy of a photo (above) of her and my maternal grandmother, Mildred Bundy, taken in the 1960s.  She was excited to share this with her grandson and great-grandson who were also present and tell us that the flowers in her dress were a deeper shade of brown than they appear in the photo.  She said that those were good times.  By the look in her eyes I could tell they were.

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