Megan’s great Christmas blog, which included Grandma Maude’s story of the uninvited Christmas guest, prompted me to see if I had any more stories about my grandparents, particularly Maude.
I found one story about Maude I had never read that includes the Mardi Gras styled Parade mentioned in the title. But before that there's a little more of Maude's history to share.
The first firm memories of my grandparents (Maude and Plinnie Sherman) were when I was five years old. Grandma Sherman was 73 years old then, and even though I was only five years old, I sensed the sadness in her countenance and the unseen weight she carried on her slumped shoulders. Grandpa was 77, and was still deemed handsome as an older man. Almost everybody inside and outside the family addressed him by his initials P.A. Other than a hearing aid he still carried himself sturdily erect, and I would watch him hard at work refinishing a table or upholstering a chair in his workshop behind their house.
Income from the shop was still needed but at this point church had become the focus of their lives, grandpa more so than grandma. Grandpa was the patriarch of the family and the pastor of the nearby Gudgell Park church. Maude seemed to prefer staying home and working on quilts, but I get it. My wife Sharon, who attended that congregation, said she never saw Maude at church. I speculated that grandma had lost her faith, but Sharon said she was probably preparing the meal for the weekly "after church guests" at their home. It may also have had something to do with lack of Sunday "go to meeting clothes." I never saw grandma in anything but a worn thin house dress. She was also worn thin from at least eleven pregnancies by my count and the loss of at least four of her children by that time, five if you count my father.
Maude, like many women of that era, deserves some special distinction for the childbearing, childrearing, and the heartbreak and unbearable suffering from losing children before their time.
On a brighter happier note, I am glad to report that I ran across a writing of Maude’s younger sister Nina that reveals that Grandma’s life was not always so sad and uneventful. Maude was born June 13, 1879 in a little log house in Silver Lake, Minnesota. Megan’s blog includes a picture that looks very much like it. It was a fairly remote area and no doctor or midwife was involved in the birthing. She had two older brothers at that time, Leon was four and Winnie was three.
After Maude was joined by four other sisters the family outgrew the small cabin and their father Winfield Gould built a bigger framed house on their homestead that adjoined his father George Gould’s homestead.
I imagine it being very scenic and all the children grew up close to the lake where they played, swam, skated, and walked around its shores to school.
Nina says that one teacher stood out in Maude’s memory. A stout Swede named Peter Nelson. He had nicknamed her “Mud” for short and she must have been mischievous at that age. When he caught her playing instead of studying he would say “Come up Mud!” Then she would have to go up and sit on the front seat by his desk.
Grandpa George Gould was always interested in the children’s lessons and liked to have them read to him. He would pace the floor with his hands crossed behind his back as they read. Now and then he would stop his pacing and reach up to take down a piece of dried smoked beef or ham from its nail on the ceiling and shave off thing pieces for the grandchildren to eat.
When Grandpa George Gould died of a kidney ailment Maude was sixteen and she went to live with her grandma, Ella Whiting, Grandpa George’s widow. Nina says Maude had a nice bedroom of her own with double windows, a big closet and a rag carpet on the floor. There was a wash stand with a big white wash bowl and pitcher on it. Nina sounded a little envious.
It was at this point that Plinnie Sherman, my grandfather, came a courting. Nina says he was a third cousin, and I will defer to that, always thinking they were closer cousins than that. I’m not good with figuring out relationships, so third cousins it is until proven otherwise.
Nina says he came courting from the town of Maine, Minnesota, and all the sisters thought he was very handsome. Plinnie traveled to Independence, Missouri where he had found work. He soon began writing to Maude and asked her hand in marriage through a letter. When Grandma Ella Whiting passed away in her sleep peacefully with a fan covering her face Maude began sewing. Her dad Winfield, bought her a shiny black trunk and they began filling it with sheets, pillowcases, towels, and anything else needed for setting up a new household. Nina remembers the pretty cashmere wedding dress, and a black and yellow striped dress.
Maude traveled to Independence by train. Maude and Plinnie were married on Thanksgiving Day, 1899 in the living room of an uncle. I’ll write about the wedding at some time later. They rented a little house on River Boulevard in Independence with a nice open view across the street of the Mormon Pasture.
I’m going to skip over the many early moves and family tragedies of my grandparents and get to a surprising window into their early lives that I so wrongly assumed was borderline boring.
Nine years younger than Maude, Nina came to town for an extended visit with her in 1908. Plinnie and Maude took her to the theater, and several parks where she says she rode every ride. I wish Nina would have named the Parks, as there were eight parks in and around Kansas City at that time, including Fairyland Park, Fairmount Park, and Mount Washington Park. Nina also attended the Church Reunion for several days and heard Joseph Smith the third preach at the Stone Church.
Nina was betrothed to Orison Tucker, and he was begging her to come back home to Minnesota. One letter said “Please Nina, you’ve seen enough for once.”
Plinnie intervened and told Nina that if she would just stay until October 5th, he and Maude would take her to see the Priest of Palace Parade in Kansas City, and if she did he would let Maude and the children travel back to Minnesota with her. There were only two children at that time, three year old Joy, and one year old Ronald.
Nina said she did stay. Maud and Plinnie took her on the trolley to Kansas City and she said the “Priest of Palace Parade” was “wonderful!”
I had to look it up since I had never heard of it!
Nina had misspelled it, possibly on purpose since the festival had a bacchanalian flavor to it. The Parade was part of a week long festival with concerts, performances, and nightly parties culminating with an elegant masked ball where guests received official souvenirs.
Her beau, Orison, was quite religious and might not have approved of a festival honoring Pallas Athene, ancient goddess in Greek mythology. The correct spelling was “Priests of Pallas Parade,” and the floats in the parade would surpass anything you’ve seen in the Rose Bowl Parade! Check out additional images on the internet. Crazy!
I just wanted to add this little tribute to Maude, my grandmother, who looked so sad when she was older. She was one of those stalwart courageous women who are so often overlooked in history.