Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Great Pumpkin Mystery

I never knew my Grandma Riley, as she died before I was born. Many times I wish that I had been given the opportunity to know her. In the 59 years that I have lived, I don't recall anyone ever having a negative thing to say about her. She was adored by all that knew her. She died while World War II was in progress. My dad was in the Army and stationed in the Philippines at the time. This is my grandmother's obituary that was sent to my dad following her funeral. You can enlarge it enough to be able to read it by left clicking on the picture. It has always saddened me to know that my dad was so far away and not able to be home to say his final good byes to his mother.

Now my Grandpa Riley was a horse of a different color. I already told you of his side line business, of making moonshine. I remember being told that he at one time was a sheriff in Johnson County, KY (I think that is the county) some time before my dad was born. He lost that position for some reason and migrated to southern Ohio. It was here that he bought up a huge amount of land and called himself a farmer. Which he did do some farming, but most of his revenue came from moonshine and gambling. He opened a little country store and ran gambling in the back rooms on the weekends. Although he was still living when I was born, he died when I was only four years old, so I don't remember much about him.

pictured right to left, back to front

Mary Liming Riley, Joseph W. Riley, Jeanette Riley, Rebecca Riley McClay

Mary McClay, Maxine Riley, Joseph L. Riley (My Dad)

I truly enjoyed any stories that Mom or Dad shared with me about family and long ago days when they were young. One story that Dad told me was when he and my aunt Maxie were about the age they were when the above picture was taken. One day Grandpa Riley called Dad and Aunt Maxie out to the barn and pointed out a couple of feed sacks that was full of pumpkin seeds. He told them he wanted them to take the seeds and plant them. He pointed out what field to plant them in and sent them on their way. Dad said they took their time getting there and weren't in any hurry to plant seeds once they reached the field. He said they sat the seeds down and played around for a little while. Aunt Maxie told Dad that they better get busy because if they didn't get those seeds planted they were going to be in big trouble. Dad had a better idea and asked her if she really wanted to spend the day planting seeds. Not many children see that as the perfect way to spend a day. Picking up the pumpkin seeds, they carried them to the far end of the field where the woods started that led down to the creek. Just inside the edge of the woods was an old tree stump that had pretty well been eaten out by termites and woodpeckers. It was then that Dad shared his idea with Aunt Maxie. They dumped every one of those seeds into the stump and covered them with some dirt so they wouldn't be noticed by someone passing by.

Weeks and weeks went by and the day finally came when Grandpa Riley decided to take a walk down to the pumpkin field and check on the progress of those pumpkin seeds. Of course, not the first little sprout had popped up out of that ground. He made a few more trips to the field after that and found still no pumpkin vines. He just wasn't buying into the possibility that all of those seeds were bad. It was while he stood there pondering the question of why those seeds weren't sprouting anything, that he noticed something growing out of an old tree stump. Checking it out closer, he discovered it to be pumpkin vines. Dad said that he and Aunt Maxie were given the worse whipping they had ever had. He also said that after that they never skimped on any chores they were given to do.

Have a Great Weekend..........


MYSTI said...


Kids do the darnedest things! Shaking head. Imagine thinking that their father would think all those pumpkin seeds were bad! lol

Thanks for sharing the stories regarding your family. I have enjoyed reading them very much.

May you have a blessed weekend.

Aisha said...

LOL this is so funny and of course will stay in their memories. So funny what kids will do. I like the story and the photograph.

BClark said...

I love all these old family stories, great to have conversation starters like those. Great pictures also. Thank You so much for sharing.

Diane J. said...

I read on another blog recently a similar story, only they poured all the seeds into one hole and covered them up so that every seed sprouted in one big clump, LOL! ;o)

Now I'm wondering if the pumpkins that sprouted in the stump ever made any pumpkins....

Hope you have a blessed Sunday, Jo. :o)

Love and hugs,


Hope said...

What a great story, Jo! It reminds me of a little trick my sister and I pulled to get out of chores! I'll have to blog about that!

How sad that your father couldn't even be home for his mother's funeral. Just another sacrifice so that we might have freedom!

Your grandpa was a very colorful character, huh? Thanks for sharing. I'd love to hear more stories! :O)

Love and Hugs,

smilnsigh said...

Oh I hope you have such stories {all of them} written down some place. So they are not lost to your family history.


Mike Golch said...

I don't know much about either of my grand fathers.Dads father died in his eairly thirties,Dad was 5. My moms dad was not talked about he divorced my grandma and remarried and moved out to CA.
Oh well stuff happens right.