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Our American Journey: Stories from King/Drew Magnet High School Students

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Mrs. P's Precious Keepsakes

By Eryka S.

In 1930, my grandmother Willie Bell P. was born in Muldoon, Texas.  She was raised by her mother Artessa A. and father Crockett A.  As a child she went to school and completed elementary, middle and high school before getting married at the age of 21.  Shortly after the newlyweds moved to California where they would start a new life in pursuit of greater opportunities.  Unfortunately, the couple had to leave their wedding gifts because they didn’t have enough luggages or a trailer for transport.  They were then stored at her Aunt Verna and Uncle Joe’s house.  My grandparents mostly brought their personal belongings with them and things they really cherished to California.  When they arrived in California they experienced new and interesting things.  They realized how great, sunny, and cool California is, which was much more desirable than the usual hot and humid weather they were accustomed to in Texas.  The environment of Texas and California was also different.  Texas life was a rural setting; their family had a nice farm that consisted of chickens, hogs, cows, and horses.  In California they had stray cats and dogs roaming around their property.  Before buying a house, they lived in a tent for one and a half years before finding their ideal house to reside in.  They then had their first child.  By purchasing a house they truly made California their home.  They had a total of five kids; two boys and three girls.  Along the way Mrs. P. began to cherish her most prized possessions which helped her settle in this unknown place she had ventured to.  These things began to really help her life and give her kids a chance to learn more about and appreciate her family through her precious artifacts she took with her from Texas.

To begin, I discovered that Mrs. P. really treasured her grandfather’s pipes.  According to my interview, her grandfather grew his own tobacco.  My grandmother stayed with her grandparents throughout high school until she left the house.  During that time he would smoke the piped while telling stories to kids, which he loved doing.  Because of her grandfather’s actions, it made a significant impact on her because it became important when she would reminisce on memories of Texas.  During the interview, I asked how old was the pipe and how long did she have it.  I was pleased to find out that the pipe was over 100 years old and she had it for 48 years.  I also discovered that the pipe helped her to visualize her grandfather smoking and telling stories to children.  Truly, the pipe has been very meaningful to my grandmother and I’m pleased that she would pass this great piece of our family history to me.

Next, I discussed with my grandmother concerning her mother’s quilts.  As I questioned her I discovered my great grandmother gave my grandmother the quilts in 1951.  She reported to me that she had kept the quilts for over 20 years.  When I asked about its significance to her, she responded by saying that the quilts are precious memories of her mom.  According to my grandmother, her mother was a skilled woman.  She made the quilts by hand and pieced the quilt with speed and accuracy.  She truly was a hardworking and gifted  woman .  The quilts added to my grandmother’s happiness.  The quilts helped her to keep the entire family warm.  I appreciate her mother’s actions and the love she showed toward her children.  I’m very happy I have these quilts to use because my family has been using them generation after generation so of course I have one.  It was last used in December of 2012 and we forward to using these hand-crafted quilts for many more!

Lastly, I interviewed Mrs.  P. about her kerosene lamps.  I found out that she had the lamps since 1951.  She also replied that the lamps were 60 years old.  When I asked her about the significance of the lamps she stated that the lamps were important due to the fact that it was the only source of light used living in the country since there was no electricity.  Without the lamps her lie would have been uncomfortable being me the dark.  These lamps meant a lot to my grandmother because they were needed greatly and they brought back memories about lie in Texas.  The lamps were last used when a blackout occurred in California.  I’m very appreciative that my grandmother will pass down the lamps to me and my siblings.  Truly, these lamps are a great piece of my family history and I’m very proud to have these lamps apart of it.

In conclusion, these great artifacts constructed a very important and memorable history to my grandmother and my family.  Through these artifacts my family can learn about my grandmother’s history and realize the significance of them.  As a result, I’m glad that these wonderful items will pass on generation to remain in our family and the next will appreciate the importance of our history.  In addition, I connected my grandma’s story to the stories I investigated at the Japanese American Museum.  It came to my knowledge that everyone has a story whether it’s through pictures or quilts; they all serve a purpose and are treasure in our lives.  In closing, when life brings you challenges or whether it brings you some where new, it is important that we cherish our memories through artifacts that we can hold on to for a life time.

Based on this original

Eryka's Grandmother
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Left: Eryka's grandmother has kept her grandfather's pipe for 48 years Right: Eryka with her grandmother, Mrs. P. This is a part ... More »


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