Top o' the morn
July 3, 2008 · Updated 1:07 PM
"The Civil War was over and Grandma Mary Colvin went to live with friends, the Jasper Gates of Willow Springs, Tenn. In those days, children were taken care of by friends when their parents left, and Mary was only three when her mother died. Grandpa Colvin, her doctor father, left his Yankee unit and came home. And her twin brothers went to live with another family.Grandma told us one warm summer afternoon as she sat on the back porch that what she remembered most about the war days was that the meat they had stored for the winter was stolen and all they had all winter was corn meal. Said she couldnt bear the sight of corn meal to that day.Grandma Colvin, quite elderly at that time, missed her cup of coffee most. Coffee became scarce and people dug dandelion roots, washed and baked them then ground them to use as pseudo coffee. In Mary Colvins new home Mrs. Gates became her second mother. Grandma adored her. Mary become one of the Gates family.Growing up after the Civil War, she married William Harris, a Yankee and their family grew to nine. About that time the Gates family moved to Mount Vernon, a little town in Northwest Washington on the banks of the Skagit River.It was difficult, tearing apart the family but the Gates had been in Washington only a short time when they wrote Marys family to come at once. It is a lovely country, they wrote. And Mary and the other members of the Harris family went.In 1902 Mount Vernon was growing. Jasper Gates became known as the Father of Mount Vernon. And when the big Harris family settled on top of the hill Mrs. Gates came by foot, from west Mount Vernon, on logs across the river no bridge then and up the long steep hill bringing Mary a set of Flow Blue dinner plates as a welcome gift.Grandpa and the three boys, Gene, Will and Charlie were brick layers, a carry over from the ould country stone masons.Enveryone used wood for heating and every house had a chimney or two which belched smoke. Brick chimneys were built with every new house.Aside from regular brick laying Grandpa put in an orchard and garden, built a barn for Brownie the cow, a woodshed and the outhouse. Pasture lands surrounded the house. What a wonderful place for children to play.A black cherry tree bore unusual fruit that Grandpa made into black cherry wine (Grandma pursed her lips and shook her head. She was a member of the Womens Christian Temperence Union!) and Grandma made jam.Holidays throughout the years were celebrated at the house on the hill and the citys big water tank, a wooden affair, leaked constantly and in cold weather they froze. Hurray! We could have ice cream for Christmas. Hand made and so good with Brownie the cows cream and berry flavorings.In the spring and summer, the garden took over with flowers, vegetables and fruits of all kinds.And the big garden swing in the back yard and Grandma on the pack porch in her blue checked apron and sun bonnet watching the antics of her grandkids.All memories of days gone by. "