Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Cynthia's Attic: Cast of Characters - Great Grandma Samantha

A glass jar...sitting on a round kitchen table...filled with candy sticks. That's my one and only memory of my great grandmother, Samantha.

Samantha Jane Huff was born on Nov. 1, 1865, married a man 20 years her senior (my g.grandfather, Charles Conrad) on Christmas Day, 1882. She died August 20, 1957. I suppose I can be forgiven for not remembering much about her since I was five at the time.

My cousin, Paul Conrad, e-mailed a wonderful picture of Samantha, nicknamed, Mant for no reason I can fathom. Why would you do that to such a beautiful name? She lived with Paul's mother and dad (my great aunt and uncle) after my grandfather's death in 1926, and he remembers her as a kind and wonderful person to be around. Wish I'd had more time with her. 

In Cynthia's Attic: Curse of the BayouSamantha (Connor) is portrayed as an excitable, free-spirited mother of twelve children; all of whom she worries over constantly. In COTB, she is a notoriously bad cook, which is simply literary license, and is married to Cynthia's g.grandfather, Beau Connor. Okay, so I took a LOT of literary license. Confused yet? Here's an excerpt:

Cynthia's Attic: Curse of the Bayou (Book Three)


As promised, there was hot food waiting for us. To say that Samantha Conner was the most awful cook in the world would not be an exaggeration. I hadn't tasted anything quite as bad as her dumplings since I'd had the brilliant idea to eat my first-grade art paste.

But, to be polite, Cynthia and I ate as much as we could choke down. At least the family stories told at dinner, helped make the food a little more palatable, especially since we'd already heard bits and pieces from Cynthia's mom. Samantha mentioned that her husband was traveling, and had not returned. I could tell she didn't want to talk about his disappearance, but that didn't stop her from talking about everything else.

"Go ahead, Ma," Jay insisted. "Tell them about how you met Pa. You know you want to."

Samantha laughed self-consciously. "Oh, Jay. These two don't want to hear tales about some old couple…well, if you insist…" She went on without ever taking a breath.

I shot a sly smirk toward Cynthia, but she was already caught up in the story.

"…and so I decided that no one was going to tell me I couldn't ride across that creek. My brothers were able to cross, and they weren't nearly the bareback rider I was!"

I could see the smug satisfaction on her face, even after all these years.

"But, Ma. Tell them what happened when you did start to cross."

Her voice took on a mildly annoyed tone. "I'm getting to that. I still say my brother, Thomas, rest his soul, deliberately frightened Powder, causing that horse to buck me off in the middle of that raging river."

"Well, that's not the way Uncle Jude tells it, Ma. But, you tell it your way."

Samantha sniffed, and then continued the story. "As I was saying…that pitiful horse bucked me off into a raging current and, land sakes…I was sure I was going to drown. I went tumbling, head over applecart, until I felt my lungs were going to burst right through my chest."

Although Cynthia's great-grandmother did have a flair for the dramatic, I didn't have to imagine how Samantha felt. I knew, from my own experience, tumbling helplessly through the underground river in Big Blue Cave, exactly what it was like to nearly drown.

"But, now to the good part." Samantha laughed heartily. "I was just about to give up the ghost when I felt a hand on my shoulder." She touched her own hand to her left shoulder and smiled, sadly. "I didn't see him until he'd pulled me to land and smacked water out of my lungs with a crack between my shoulder blades. I still wonder what he saw in a girl spewing river water into his face, but I knew, as soon as I looked into those kindly, brown eyes, that I would spend the rest of my life with Beauregard Conner."

Charles & Samantha Conrad, and children
Great Grandma, Samantha, I wish I had known more about you, but I suppose there are worse things than being remembered for a full candy jar.


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