My Story, page 3

by Dorothy (James) Reddell

When my mother was 16 months old, she rocked her cradle over into the edge of a fireplace and burned her left hand. Parts of all her fingers were burned off and the thumb grew down to the palm of her hand. How much of a handicap this crippled hand was to her I never knew. She did her housework as any other mother, so I never noticed it. I do remember she said it was one reason she never learned to sew. 

After mother's parents died, she lived with her sister, who was married then. She also lived some with an uncle who was a chiropractor doctor. His wife wasn't well so mother earned her keep by helping with the housework. Mother also worked for a while in the Palmer house. She liked these people but I don't remember their name. 

This is the way my parents met. My mother was either visiting or living with her sister who was a neighbor of the sister of my dad's first wife. She had been taking care of dad's children after his wife died. I think they only knew each other a short while when they were married on July 15th, 1915. 

They each had reasons besides love and romance for getting married. Dad needed a wife and mother for his six children. Mother, at the age of 22, was almost considered an old maid in those days. She also needed a home, since she hadn't really had one since her father died. I believe they were in love with each other.

I never thought they were right for each other. Dad was an extrovert; mother was an introvert. 

Dad was born January 14, 1876. in Birmingham, Alabama. His father was Jonathan James. His mother was Sarah Self. I know nothing of grandpa's family. I heard family stories that three brothers named Self came from England and settled in Tennessee. My grandma was a descendent of one of them. Dad said she was part Irish. 

I remember seeing my paternal grandparents once when I was about 11. They were old then. Grandpa died not long after that, and grandma died when I was 14. They both lived into their eighties. They were farmers. They were probably married during the Civil War. I was told that one of grandma's brothers was a captain in the Civil War. 

Grandma had ten children, eight boys and two girls. Four of the boys died before adulthood. When dad was about eight, spinal meningitis struck his family. He became ill while at school and the last he remembered for some time was riding home on a horse behind an older brother. When he regained consciousness, one of his brothers was dead and had already been buried. 

Another brother, Delmentie, was never well. He suffered severe back aches. One day when he was 15, he laid over an old trunk with a curved top. Suddenly, he announced that for the first time, he was out of pain. Then he died. Apparently his spine had snapped. Doctors said his spine hadn't grown as the rest of his body grew. 

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