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Grandma Williamson & the Railroad Depot          

My paternal Grandmother, Ellen Church Williamson, was a strict and proper Victorian disciplinarian all her life, raised in the "children should be seen and not heard" school of behavior.  She was staying with us during an illness when she was in her 70's, at a time when my brother Lloyd was about 4 or 5 years old.

After church we always had a big Sunday dinner, following which Daddy took a nap and we children were expected to clean the kitchen.  Grandma pitched in too while she was with us, mostly to supervise.  I had done most of the cooking and was (still am) a very messy chef.  The floor was littered with bits and pieces. 

The boys had gone outside to play and were tearing around enjoying themselves when Grandma called my brother Nathan in to assist.  He scowled, protested and sniveled as Grandma handed him a broom and ordered him to sweep the floor.  Lloyd, too young to help, was standing by waiting for Nathan to come back out and play.  Nathan wept and dabbed at the floor without much effect until Grandma grabbed the broom away and began vigorously sweeping and scolding.

The lecture as to Nathan's shortcomings and about doing things right ended up with a story about a young man who, during a great economic depression, went to apply for an advertised position as stationmaster of a railroad depot.  When he arrived there were many, many people ahead of him.  Eventually during the long wait he decided to sweep the filthy floor.  The interviewer happened to come out while he was doing this, called him in immediately and, impressed with his industry and initiative, gave him the job.

"He worked and worked, and always did a good job at everything he did, and eventually years later, do you know what happened?", Grandma expounded, pausing dramatically for effect.  "He became president of the railroad!!!"

We were all quiet, knowing that anything that was said would set Grandma off again, until little Lloyd piped up with a face as serious as a judge: "Well, Grandma, keep on sweeping and maybe someday you'll be president of a railroad."

I have no idea what her reaction was because Mom, Nathan and I fled the kitchen and were practically rolling around outside on the lawn with laughter.

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Click photo to enlarge.

Here's an example of why photos should be labeled in detail.  This picture was taken at the time of the above story.   

  • Front row left to right:  my mother, Alice Hine Williamson, with daughter Debbie,  a cousin (I think?), sister Priscilla, Lloyd, famous for his wry comments, and Grandmother Ellen Church Williamson, still good looking at past 70.

  • Next two boys, the first one unknown, the one with the face is Nathan, once again called in from playing and not liking it. 

  • Third row, Uncle Charles' wife, Eileen, me with my first child Elizabeth (now deceased), one of Uncle Charles daughters- I think it's Charlene but can't be sure, with one of her children. 

  • Back row, Uncle Charles Williamson who inherited Grandma Williamson's ski-slope nose a la Bing Crosby  (a roughneck jazz musician and truck driver in his younger days, so his nose is a little out of line), Charlene's (?) husband (I think) and at right back, I believe Eileen's mother, but I can't be sure.  

If any relatives see this picture and can identify the ones I'm not sure of, please e-mail me.

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