Robert Wesley Bunn Jr.
May 23, 1918- June 10, 2012
An ending of a generation in the Bunn family has given me the sense that my generation is on deck. We are the grandparents now and there is no cushion in front of us.
My heart was saddened to know that my Grandmother‘s brother passed away in June of 2012. I haven’t spoken about his passing too much, as I think and ponder why I didn’t pursue the urgency of speaking with him a little more often. I did however speak with him a few months before his illness got the best of him. At this point, his memory was not as strong, but my Great Grand Uncle Robert did speak with me about his days on the plantation in Lake Providence, Louisiana and Arkansas.
I was not able to attend the Celebration of Life for Robert W. Bunn, Jr., but was pleased however to have received the program card from my cousin Wes, Robert’s son.
This is a continuum of Memories of my Grandmother Helen Bunn, Part #1. Go here http://porterbunn.wordpress.com/2012/04/19/what-i-remember-about-my-grandmother-part-1/ if you would like to follow my train of thought.
My brother and I used to call my grandmother Helen “Granny”, and she seemed to fit that name perfectly. Some of my memories of her:
- She loved to watch wrestling on Television. I could never figure out what made her like it so much, but she would laugh and cheer her favorite wrestler on. I swear it was comedy! I don’t know if it was so much comedy watching these men wrestling with masks and tight underwear on as much as it was watching my grandmother have a ball laughing at them. She really got into it. Sometimes she would try to put a move on me, by putting me in a head lock…and she would just laugh as I would be yelling for her to let me up…lol
- Another pastime was my grandmother loved to watch the Roller Derby. Since she lived in Los Angeles, her team was the Thunderbirds. She was always rooting for Gwen Miller aka “Skinny Minney”; she was always doing a stunt and skating under someone else’s legs. It was a special treat when we would go to the Los Angeles Olympic Auditorium to see our favorite skaters. Of course, I always had to have cotton candy when we went.
- So you see, my grandmother liked Wrestling, she liked Roller Derby, and she loved the “Hee Haw” show. I spent many a day watching this show with her.
Helen was a church going woman and a leader in her church. I spent every summer at her home and every Sunday we were at church. Going to church was a weekly ritual when I lived at home, but the type of church I went to at my grandmothers was the African American Episcopal (AME) Church. What I liked most about attending her church, was the music. They had the soulful gospel music and the old-time spirituals. The tambourines, foot stomping and clapping and raising of hands excited me, something I was not accustomed to as I was brought up in a Presbyterian and Methodist church, whose musical style came off as pious and self-controlled.
When I reflect back on my childhood, I can picture my grandmother’s bedroom and on her dresser sat an offering box that was shaped like a church. This is where I would withdraw some funds to take to church and give for offering. She told me that it was important to give tithes and offerings as this is what God would want us to do.
So, if you read my last post, you see, I had a grandmother whose father was a sharecropper, and Helen picked many a day of cotton. She loved tobacco, and I learned this firsthand. She ran off the farm to ensure that my father got an education; which was well worth the run as he earned a Ph.D, became an educator himself, and had two SD City Schools named after him.
My grandmother loved the rough and tough type of entertainment and she was a very soulful individual. I can remember everyday tunes that she would sing around the house such as “Go Tell It on The Mountain, and Amazing Grace.”
There is so much more to this woman I called “Granny.” I have good memories of these formative years of my life at my grandmother’s home and there are more memories to share such as the old health remedies, community activism, and discipling….follow me next time to part #3.
I am on my fifteenth day celebrating Women’s History Month and taking advantage of the Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women’s History Month.
I have to thank Lisa Alzo of the Accidental Genealogist blog for presenting such an awesome idea.
March 15 — Write a six-word memoir tribute to one of your female ancestors.
Here are my Ancestors I am highlighting this day with the six-word memoir.
Betty Mae Peters Porter (My Mother): Educator. Great Humor. Classy Woman. Beautiful.
Agnes Mae Cully Peters (Maternal Grandmother) New York Fashion Designer, Cancer Survivor
Helen Bunn Thompson (Paternal Grandmother) Spiritual. Quilter. Concerned Citizen. Foster Parent.
Nora Ann Gilliam Cully (Maternal Great-Grandmother) Always Pregnant. Pianist. Church-goer. Died Young.
Hannah Singleton-Nelson Gilliam (Maternal Great Great Grandmother) Former Slave. Laundress. Young Widow. Matriarch.
Jane B. Nelson Collins (Maternal Great Great Aunt) Former Slave. Freedom Fighter. Activist. Strong.
March 14 — Newsmakers? Did you have a female ancestor who made the news? Why? Was she famous or notorious? Did she appear in the social column?
I have had many female relatives in various social columns throughout the United States on my maternal side.
When I was going through my Paternal mom’s scrapbook, I came across this clipped out picture of my grandmother’s sister Hattie Bunn Criner who was born in 1914. I am unsure as to what magazine this photo was published in, but she seemed to be very happy. I did not have the opportunity to get to know Hattie, and our encounters were very few.
Apparently she was a housekeeper in her middle ages.
March 12 — Working girl: Did your mother or grandmother work outside the home? What did she do? Describe her occupation.
I had two grandmother’s that had their own businesses in their home. Both of my grandmother’s sewed for a living. My maternal grandmother Agnes Cully Peters was a fashion designer, and sewed for the Who’s Who in New York and then in later years Los Angeles when her sister Zara relocated to pursue her acting career.
My paternal grandmother Helen Bunn Thompson had a sewing room in her home and she would sew for church members, and many of the neighborhood families where she resided in Los Angeles. This is one of the many ways she would make a living. Helen was also was a foster parent and a launderer.
Helen Bunn Thompson
I later learned from an older relative that Helen owned a cafe in Little Rock, Arkansas and in St. Louis, Missouri.