Update about blog

Come on over to my other blog, Alchemy of Clay and Living in Black Mountain NC, where the scenery and my ceramic arts life are combined. I've moved some personal blog posts, (as well as those that are about my ancestors) back here.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


Happy birthday to Mozelle Booth Miller Webb Munhall
 b. Sept. 9, 1897 Hillsboro, TX,
m 8.7.15 Albert Webb (1891 – 1919)
m. Mar 27, 1924 Frederick Munhall (1890 – 1927)
d. 1960, San Antonio, TX

Statistics don't say what a big hearted, but sad woman, my Grandmommy was.

I honor her life on the 117th anniversary of her birth.

Last year I posted a bit about her life Here.

I've been spending many hours looking at various ancestors, trying to learn more about their lives.  They were full of passions, loves and hates, beliefs and fears, courage and instincts, talents and foibles.  They walked each day through, from waking to sleep, occupied just as I am in whatever activities consumed them.

My grandmother was one of the most talented people in my family, able to tailor beautiful materials into clothing for anyone.  When we moved from Texas to St. Louis, she would receive measurements of my sister and myself, then sew intricate dresses that fit perfectly.  The cloth might be a bit strange, from her knowledge of dresses for ball gowns we would have plaid taffeta dance dresses when the other children wore wool or cottons.

I don't know if I have shared how difficult it was for my mother growing up with her mother.

My mother often told me that she was raised mainly by her grandmother, after whom she named me.  Mother also had a young aunt who never married, and she spent a lot of time with as a child.  Grandmommy had had 2 husbands die when she was quite young.  I never heard what my grandmother was doing while my mother was with her own grandmother...but only know that when I later was visiting her she did show signs of a disease that impacted both my mother and myself...alcoholism.

I worked to understand that disease and how it affects the children and even grandchildren around it.  There's an understanding of a secret that must not be talked about.  There's also a sense of lack of control of your life, that the alcoholic person can erupt at any time in unexpected and dangerous ways.  To deal with those conditions, people who live with an alcoholic try to have some control over their lives, no matter how small.

That is how I grew up thinking that my mother hated Grandmommy, but then would make efforts to visit her.  A very confusing set of emotions, love/hate, fear/control.  It was just a process that was the reaction to the disease, where a person would drink and get completely out of control, either being very nice, or maybe the opposite.  Of course my mother had her own way of coping, she went for religion.  I went for counseling.  And found out all the dynamics that were true in my life had been studied and explained by some other people already.

1926 photo of Mozelle with her second husband, Fred Munhall on the right, and his brother on the left.

Grandmommy did show her loving nature, probably in irrational ways.  I remember driving to Monterey, Mexico with her to visit her sister Dorothy Buchanan one summer.

We were in Great Aunt Margaret's big old car (Oldsmobile maybe?) and at one point on the dirt road to the ranch we had to cross a stream bed, then go up a steep hill.  I was in the middle of the front seat, and remember pushing on the dash board to help the car go up that hill.  Now-a-days a four wheel drive vehicle would be called for, but this was in the 1950s.
Scenes from Great Aunt Dorothy's ranch, somewhere in Mexico
Then we ate in a French Restaurant, Luisanne, and I wanted to try frog legs.  What?  My mother kicked me under the table.  Never in my life had my leg been kicked, and I didn't really get the message.  Here she was trying to let me know that that would be a foolish expense, but not getting through to me.  I was maybe 11.  I got the frog legs...and liked sharing tastes (just like chicken) with everyone else.  But mother fumed at me for days afterward.

My dear Grandmommy had insisted that I could order whatever I wished from the menu.  She who worked as a seamstress to make her living, often living with friends and relatives rather than in her own home, glady paid for a very expensive dish for my curiosity.

Mother was of the opinion that grandmothers and grandaughters get along better than mothers and daughters.  

My grandmother hated trains (where her father worked as a conductor all his life) and would only travel distances by airplanes.
Visit by Mozelle to Houston, (1948-9) with Mary Beth on left, Barbara on right.

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