Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A to Z April Challenge: N is for Nancy



My theme for the A to Z April Challenge is “In-Laws and Out-Laws – Friends of the Family.”  I will be researching friends, colleagues, neighbors - those people who came and went touching my family’s lives in both small and large ways. 


is for Nancy.  Nancy Christine Danielson Taylor.  

Momma and Nancy were friends from high school, probably because they were cheerleaders together.  How close they were, I’m not sure.  There are no photos of them goofing off and hanging out together although there are such photos of Momma with some of their other girlfriends.

Nancy Danielson
1945
Except for cheerleading, their interests went in opposite directions.  While Momma was active with the newspaper staff and Spanish Club, Nancy gravitated to basketball and the Hi-Y Club, a service organization.

Nancy #6 Forward
scanned from the
1946 Admiral
















Cradock Hi-Y Club 1946
Nancy is 5th from the left on the front row kneeling
scanned from 1946 Admiral

Nancy was the second daughter born to Gus and Peggy Danielson when they were living in Redford, Michigan.  Gus was a tool maker for a car factory, likely in Detroit as it was about a 20-minute commute to the automobile capital of the world.  Sometime between 1935 and 1940, the Danielsons moved to Portsmouth, Virginia, and settled in the community of Cradock.  Gus worked as a machinist for the shipyard.  This was about the same time that my grandparents moved to Cradock.  With the war, there were lots of job opportunities at the shipyard.

As adults Momma and Nancy were very close friends.  We lived around the corner from Nancy and Skeeter, so we grew up with the Taylor kids.  Sometimes Nancy was our afternoon babysitter until Momma could get home from school (she was a teacher – she wasn’t IN school). 

 
Nancy, Momma, Rusty
I wonder if I did Nancy's hair that week.
I vaguely recall some of those moments, especially when Nancy would scurry around picking up Mary Jollette’s and Rusty’s toys before Momma got home, but my strongest memories are “Hair Night.”  Nancy had very thick naturally curly hair.  When I was in high school, I used to be her “between haircuts” hair dresser.  Seriously.  I had a table-top salon-style hair dryer, brush rollers and a teasing comb.  The kitchen became a make-shift salon where I worked my amateur magic on both my mom and Nancy.  The house would be full of chatter and laughter because Nancy always had something funny going on.  When Nancy laughed, she snorted, and that would make us laugh all the more.

The Taylors' cotton tree.  


Even though we saw the Taylors practically every day, Christmas was always a special time together.  After opening our presents, we hit the road making the rounds visiting everyone to see their haul. Nancy’s family always had a cotton tree.  I believe it was actually a tradition passed down through Skeeter’s family.  The tree was so different from everyone else’s tree, all covered in white cotton and angel hair, colorful balls and lights.  Magical.





Skeeter, Nancy, Rusty 1971 or 1972
Nancy Taylor, Mary Jollette Slade, Wendy Slade 1971 or 1972
Nancy, Mary Jollette, Wendy
Skeeter, Nancy, Rusty at my parents' house

Skeeter and Nancy

The funniest memory of Nancy was the time she talked Momma into going with her to the beauty school at the shopping center to get their hair washed and curled cheap.  She thought it would be great fun to let budding hairdressers practice on them, not to mention a bargain.  Fortunately for Momma, she ended up looking rather good after that $5 investment.  Nancy, on the other hand, was disappointed in her own, to put it mildly.  In fact, the two of them couldn’t wait to get out of the salon because they couldn’t contain their laughter much longer.  What was so bad about that hairdo?  Was it the tight curl?  Or that black velvet bow above her bangs?   Sure wish I had a picture!


My parents had wonderful friends that I miss as if they were my own.  Skeeter and Nancy are buried in the Olive Branch Cemetery in Portsmouth, Virginia. 

photo courtesy of Steve Poole, Findagrave.com


Lest I neglect the niceties, all neophytes, newcomers and novices are welcome to navigate the numerous news, narratives, novels and notes at the A to Z April Challenge.




© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

25 comments:

  1. Looks like she lived a good, happy, long life. Funny how your mom and Nancy weren't that close in high school but got close later on. Kind of true for life.

    Liz A. from Laws of Gravity

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    1. Yes, Nancy had a good family and a good life. Funny lady.

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  2. Lovely that they had a long lasting friendship. I've never seen a Christmas like theirs before.

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    1. I've never seen a tree like theirs either.

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  3. Wow, that cotton tree is special! Love all your family stories, how fun to be able to share in everyone's Christmas holiday together too.

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    1. Some time I need to ask Peggy and Rusty how they did that tree -- where they found a tree to wrap and how they did it.

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    2. All during the year we looked along road sides for the perfect gumball tree then close to Christmas we chopped it down. If there were bald spaces Dad would cut a limb from a spare tree, drill a hole, and put the new branch in. We would put the lights on first then cut surgical cotton we got from Gary Lawrence's Pharmacy in strips and wrap all the tree and strings for the lights. Next would come the ornaments and tinsel which would be covered by angel hair and then spray snow. When the lights were turned on the colors showed almost like close-knit spider webs - it was really beautiful. We never had a green tree until I was in high school and the white one caught on fire the day before Christmas Eve. Rusty was a baby and I carried him next door to the Allen's and got Mr. Allen to call the fire department. Anne remembers Russ wetting on her bathrobe. Funny the things we remember. Now they no longer make the surgical cotton either.

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  4. What fascinating posts you are featuring for the challenge. Love the beautiful photos you're including too. I've never heard of a cotton tree before. Unique trees are wonderful.

    Sorry for reminding you about that Nor'easter when you visited my blog. :)

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    1. No prob about the nor'easter -- I was really kidding.

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  5. I've heard of cotton trees but had never seen one, even in a photo, until now. Thanks!
    Deb@ http://debioneille.blogspot.com

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    1. Glad I could oblige - now your life is complete. ;-)

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  6. It's funny that many of your memories about Nancy had to do with hair styling!

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    1. Oh Debi, too funny -- I thought the same thing when I reread my rough draft.

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  7. I love the photographs you are sharing as well as lovely memories. Nancy has a very cheerful face and a happy smile.

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    1. Yep, she had a big smile and big laugh.

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  8. My favorite story of Momma and Nancy in high school is when, Mom, JoAnn, Nancy, Cookie and Betsy all climbed on the fire truck outside of the station one night as if they were going to a fire. Nancy accidentally hit the siren, and of course they all jumped off and ran! Momma said they were laughing so hard they couldn't run.

    Nancy was really just the best. So much fun to be with. She was hilarious!

    I still have my precious red coat that Nancy knitted for me when I was in a size 6X =)

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    1. I don't remember that story.
      I wish I had a picture of you in that coat. I would have used it.

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    2. I'm surprised she didn't wet her pants, she usually did when she laughed a lot. I remember the red coat. She worked on that while I knitted one for Nannie.

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  9. Dear Wendy, I love coming here and reading your GREAT stories and memories! jean

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    1. Thanks, Jean! And I'm loving your fictionary.

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  10. I love when you mix the "recent" photos with past...and when your stories are "alive."
    Happy A-Z!

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    1. Then I need to do more of those.

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  11. Wendy, Mom would have loved the memories. I remember the last time your Mom and Cookie came to see Mom at the nursing home. She looked at them and smiled but then became confused and walked away and began dusting the furniture which is what she did most of the day. It was so upsetting to them but I like to think it was a memory for her that was remembered, one of so many wonderful memories. Thank you so much for this wonderful walk back through time. I think of your Mom every day, and thank her for pushing the grammar lessons that I so appreciate the older I get.

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  12. I also meant to tell you Grandpa Danielson worked for Henry Ford in Detroit. When they shut down the factory during the depression he gave everyone a car for severance. I have a picture of Mom and Aunt Peaches standing on the running board. Grandpa sold the car and bought train tickets for them to come to Cradock where he went to work in the shipyard. I think Mom was about 2-3 then. Grandma became the first female ambulance driver in Virginia a little while later. They were both so much fun to be around.

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    1. Oh that is such a cool story. I thought about messaging you before I wrote this, but you were so busy with Dennis that I just didn't think you'd have time for my questions. Thanks for filling out this story!

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