Meet my late paternal grandparents, Ted & Lula Tweed.
Ted was a “Bit & Harness Man” for the mule teams and Lula was a camp cook.
They married in the spring of 1920 right after Ted turned 21 and Lula was not quite 14 years old. In 1922, they welcomed the first of 12 children, a son named Eston.
Ted & Lula farmed and would never become rich during their lifetimes but their home was one of integrity and love. The late Sambo Franklin once told me “I heard a couple of things on Ted Tweed but by God I never heard of him stealing”.
Life was tough for the Tweed family. Ted and Lula toiled, struggled, scrimped and saved to get by. They wanted to buy a farm but couldn’t quite get the backing to do so. People thought they had too many kids to pay for a farm.
Finally, Ted was approached by Kari Wallin. Kari told Ted “Let’s go to the bank in town. When we come back, you and your wife will own a farm”.
Off they went and true to Kari’s word, when Ted returned from the bank in Marshall he and Lula had just went in debt for a 64 acre tobacco farm, complete with a frame home and barn.
They moved in on December 7, 1941………The very day that Pearl Harbor was bombed and WWII began for America.
Nevertheless, they did it.
Ted raised tobacco while Lula took a job as a custodian and lunchroom lady at the local elementary school just around the curve from their home. My late father Tracy Tweed was their tenth child, the sixth of 8 boys.
In 1967, Dad took us north as part of the “Hillbilly Migration”. Dad worked at Ford Motor Company on Detroit’s south side.
However, in 1974 the OPEC Oil Embargo hit. Dad was laid off and we returned to North Carolina on December 9, 1974.
Grandpa Ted was gravely ill and had been for a decade, bed ridden with emphysema. He would pass away the following November, a man I really never knew.
However, Grandma Lula was still spry and strong. My cousin Rayboy says flat out that “She was ornery”.
Through Grandma Lula’s life, I got to experience the very tail end of the self-reliant Appalachian lifestyle:
There was a huge garden, apple trees, a cherry tree, a pear tree, chickens, a hog, milk cow and a mule named Kate.
We raised a potato patch and a sorghum patch.
We were so “uppity” that we even had out own cane mill as well as a clay molasses cooking vat located under the corn crib.
Under Grandma Tweed’s tutelage, I learned how to be a decent human being as well as a determined one. She took us to Whiterock Presbyterian Church every Sunday.
She never quit or gave up.
Rayboy says that she used to say “If I could just get one year ahead”. He then says “She never did”.
Grandma Lula Tweed died in September of 2005, eight days past her 99th birthday. She may not have financially gotten a year ahead here on Earth but she enriched her family with wisdom that is beyond compare.
Y’all have a great week!