Five Dinner Guests
1. Mary Morian Sadler
2. Chester Nichols
3. Anna Marie Nieblock
4. Ottie "Doc" Eggers
5. Myrtle Pickett Eggers
|Mary Morian Sadler|
|Nichols Family late 30s to mid 40s|
|Wayney with Grandma Nichols|
prior to May 1977
|Doc Eggers, my grandfather and my |
mother's first husband, Gene Winks
Grandma started teaching me to cook when I was really young. I know I was 2 when we moved to IN after my parents split up. I remember living in Bloomfield and Mom working at Eastern Greene High School before she became ill. Mom was diagnosed with polymyositis in 1981 and was not doing well. I must have spent quite a lot of time with my grandparents at that time. Then sometime before I started school, Mom and I moved to Jamestown, IN which is about 55 miles away from my grandparent's farm. We drove down there fairly often. I know I was fairly young when I was telling Mom where to turn. Between 4th and 5th grade we moved back into the area, to Spencer, which is about 15 miles away. We saw Grandma a lot more. We'd take her to the grocery store or to the doctor. It was during this time that my Grandma was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
By this time I was 12 yrs old. If Mom was somewhere and needed to get home after I got out of school, it was no big deal. My neighbor kept an eye out for me, and if I had any trouble I could always go there. Mom knew I usually called Grandma after school anyway, so if Grandma was home, I was usually talking to her, until her cancer had progressed.
It was Aug 1989 and Grandma's cancer had worsened until she was in the hospital. She had been arguing a bit with her doctors. She'd been insisting that she was going home on Thursday. She was adamant about that too. Her doctor didn't seem to think that was possible. I know Mom had been to the hospital. I remember deciding to make deviled eggs for dinner. Why I decided to use the microwave to cook the eggs in the microwave I am not sure. But I know it was a mistake! The eggs of course exploded! I knew I'd have to let it cool before I could clean up my mess. As I was waiting, my sister came to pick me up and take me to the hospital. She told me it did not look good and she hoped that we could make it. When we stepped off of the elevator, my brothers and their wives were there. When they heard the elevator, one of my brothers came over to the elevator. I remember my sister giving him a look and seeing a small shake of the head and I knew then that we'd not made it in time. My brother reached out to hug us and as we all went towad the rest of the family, we all sort of drew into one big group. It was a rare moment. The 4 of us were seldom together. I had always liked being around my brothers, especially the younger of the family. He was a blast. But there were some underlying issues (as there are in every family) with everyone at the time. I was trying to stay out of it and not choose sides just as Mom was trying to do. No mother wants to be in a position where her kids are fighting. I remember going into the room where Grandma was. She looked so peaceful. I think I leaned over to hug her but I am not sure.
My great-grandmother was born Sarah Ann Runion, to William Newton Runion and his wife Lydia Lamb. I am not sure which of his wives she was, as he had 4. Sarah had a half-sister named Grace whose mother was Margaret Stevens Runion. I also am unsure which of his wives she was. I know neither were his 4th wife. William had 18 children by these 4 wives. Sarah married William Joseph Pickett and Grace married Charles Merritt. Sarah and William had 2 daughters, Mabel and Myrtle. They were also raising a nephew of William's named Russell I believe. William Pickett had passed away in 1912, about 7 months before my grandmother Myrtle was born. Great-grandma Sarah lived on her own with 3 children, 2 of which were under 2. Aunt Hazel's mother, Grace, passed away in Feb. 1914 after having 3 children with Charles Merritt. They had Oscar, Hazel and Catherine. Charles and Sarah ended up getting married in late 1914, combining families to have 6 children between them. They went on to have 2 more children of their own, Aaron and Woody. My Grandmother's cousins became her step-siblings. But, amongst the kids, it wasn't as if the word step prefaced the word sibling. They were siblings in the truest sense. In the end, Charles and Sarah ended up with a blended family of 10. Myrtle and Hazel, and I assume the other girls, were taught the noodle recipe by Sarah. I can only wonder who she got it from. It could be her mother, a grandmother, one of her step-mothers, a mother-in-law even. If it was Charles' mother, then that makes the recipe doubly related to me as she was my great-great grandmother on my Grandfather Doc's side. That makes the already confusing family even more confusing huh?
Doc's Mother was Norabelle Merritt, and she married George Granville Eggers. I'm sure that her maiden name was Merritt and the fact that my grandmother Myrtle's step-father was Charles Merritt has people wondering if they were connected and if so, how? Charles and Norabelle were siblings. So that technically made Myrtle and Doc step-cousins, which is no relation at all really except through the marriage of Myrtle's mother to Doc's uncle. So it's entirely possible Sarah learned the recipe from her mother-in-law, who would have taught my great-grandmother, Norabelle as well. I have realized how convoluted my family tree is but I hadn't realized until now that Sarah's sister-in-law became her daughter Myrtle's mother-in-law. Ok now that is a bit strange to say, even for me!
As Aunt Hazel would keep watch over me while I was making noodles, she would do quality control in a way. She'd offer helpful suggestions such as "Roll them thinner." or "Make them this size." while showing me what size she meant. When she no longer watched me make them or offered suggestions, I felt I'd graduated in a way. I was probably in my early teens when that happened. I went on to teach my niece Christy how to make them when she was 12 or 13. I believe Christy has taught my great-niece Lyndsay how to make them and her son Christopher has likely watched her make them, and she will likely teach her daughter Lei to make them. She also recently gave the recipe to her sister-in-law (my nephew's wife) Lori. I have taught my son how to make them as well. He loves to cook and has been cooking with me since he was 2. So we have a recipe that I know for a fact has been made by 6 generations of our family and possibly more. My great-grandmother Sarah, my grandmother Myrtle, my Mom (although she HATES cooking) and my aunt Kathy, my sister Pam and me, my niece Christ and her sister-in-law Lori and my son, my great-niece Lyndsay and possibly others of my great-nieces and great-nephews. How many previous generations used the exact same recipe, I do not know. I know that I have had the memorized for some time. But I never use a single batch. I usually triple it if I am making it at home for my family. If I am making it for a family gathering, depending on how large it is, I will multiply it by anywhere from 6 to 12. I've never gone beyond 12. The recipe is one egg per batch and I've not had to make them for a gathering that caused me to use more than a dozen eggs. It would take time to do that. If I am making that large a quantity, I generally break it down so that I use 3 eggs at a time because it gets hard to mix in larger amounts. If I'd allow myself to use a stand mixer, I could make it in larger amounts at one time, but to me, that just isn't how these noodles get made. They are to be made by hand, just like my grandmother, great-aunt, great-grandmother and who knows how many other people before me made them. There is something about getting my hands in the flour, salt, egg, water and oil mixture, I had the recipe memorized but I've now forgotten the exact amounts of salt, water and oil because like Grandma and Aunt Hazel, I do not measure those items. It's such a simple recipe. 3 ingredients, since most people do not count salt and water as ingredients. Then after they are made, the noodles just need dropped into boiling water, broth or stock. I prefer chicken flavored broth or stock. I usually use bouillon because it's easier to have on hand at all time. It's odd. I prefer using chicken broth to boil the noodles in but if mashed potatoes and brown gravy are also on the menu, I will put the brown gravy on my noodles. I don't know why I do that. Maybe because I used to hate mashed potatoes, but I like brown gravy so it was one way of eating the brown gravy. I only hope that the younger generations that are learning the recipe continue using it and passing it along.
I would love to see if any of my grandparents had RA, although they probably would have called it "rheumatism" or one of the older names for the disease we know as RA now. I also would enjoy hearing stories of my parents and things that Mom and Dad wouldn't have told me. I've only seen pictures of my paternal grandparents, and it looks as if their hands are twisted some but that could just be the work they did throughout all of their lives, which would more than likely mean they had OA instead. I know my maternal grandparents also had hands that had enlarged joints. I am reasonably sure that my grandmother had swelling, and pain. I know she had OA in her hip that had been broken, but I don't know if she had RA also. I believe my grandfather Doc had Chron's disease. But other forms of arthritis, I am not sure about. He was a farmer as well as a railroad worker and truck driver. So it's possible any of the repetitive tasks of those jobs may have caused OA. I don't know if Chester did anything besides farming. Both Grandma's were farmer's wives. I know even after Grandpa Doc retired from farming, Grandma Myrtle kinda kept to the schedule of a farmer's wife. She was up early in the mornings but she also tried to watch the 11pm news and even part of Johnny Carson. I remember seeing Johnny Carson when I would stay over with them. Funny what you don't really recall until the oddest moments.
I think this would be a very interesting dinner. I'd hopefully get to know my grandparents better and spend some time with my bestest friend.