“This is Peggy Barbour Straughen and I am on my way back to Ohio from a family reunion and I thought I would report some of my childhood memories of my grandparents. As I am speaking of this, I am now 60 years old. Let’s see…”
My grandmother grew up in south-central Pennsylvania, living for a time in Shippensburg but growing up mostly in Chambersburg. In 1997 she recorded a tape recounting memories from her childhood and transcribed it. These are some of Peggy’s memories in her own words.
Part II: Carriages and Apples
My Grandpa Barbour was a funeral director, of sorts, in Shippensburg. He was not a very good businessman, but he was a wonderful, kindly soul and I have wonderful memories of him. I loved going to Grandma Barbour’s for several reasons. First of all, she was not an affectionate person, not demonstrative with her affection, but I always knew I was special, because I was the oldest grandchild who lived close and whom they saw with great regularity. I had two older cousins, but they lived in NJ and another cousin who was about my age but he lived in Minnesota, so they had me to themselves for quite a few years and I know they loved seeing me.
One thing I did not like, – Grandma Barbour had a piano in her parlor and she always wanted me to play something for them on the piano. I never liked playing in front of people; I got real nervous and scared and I would just refuse to play. That would really upset me (and my Mother) and I remember that. But the other thing I did like was that Grandma Barbour had subscriptions to ‘Life’ Magazine and ‘National Geographic’ which were piled high on her parlor table. In her parlor she had this old velvet chair that had fringes hanging down from it and an old beaded lamp which my Mother later had and now I believe maybe [my sister] has, – it had this wonderful beaded shade with fringe. I just loved to play with those beads. But behind this light and chair was this big parlor table with the magazines. Of course, the family would be off in another part of the house, so I could go into the parlor and look through ‘Life’ magazines to my heart’s content. I just loved doing that and I was never ready to go home.
Other memories I have from Shippensburg are from the funeral home, which was on the main street of Shippensburg – about a block and a half north of the old railroad tracks. The funeral home was an old building and behind it was the original carriage house of the property; it was a large carriage house. My granddad used it to store all his vehicles for the business and his own private car, of course. Included in these vehicles in this carriage barn was an old horse-drawn hearse which he would loan out to other funeral directors in the area for Amish or River Brethren funerals, because the Amish used, still do – the Old Order Amish do not use motor driven vehicles. It was an elaborate hearse and I remember being fascinated by it since it had to be pulled by horses. The other things he kept in this carriage barn were his old cars; there was an old Model T Ford and a couple other cars of that vintage. And while I was never allowed to play there, I was allowed to go in it and go through it occasionally. It just fascinated me!
The other fond memory I have from the business and its location – Grandma and Grandpa Barbour had a glider-swing in their backyard, one of these swings that had a platform for your feet and there was a double seat on each side, so you faced each other. I just loved sitting in that swing.
[Grandpa Barbour] owned a farm outside Shippensburg and part of this farm was an apple orchard. They were Jonathan apples. My Grandpa Barbour was not much of a business man and he wasn’t any better at farming! But going to this apple orchard – of course, the first several times I went with my Dad – and then after I learned how to get there, I would go there sometimes myself, after I learned to drive. I loved going to this orchard and eating the apples right off the tree. In the spring with the trees in blossom, it was the most beautiful place to be. I even remember going there when I was dating Dick Patterson, one of my early boyfriends. We went there one spring day and took a bunch of pictures. So I do have memories of that!