When we published the story of my mother's childhood a number of years ago, my children expressed some surprise that "granny" hadn't been raised in a home like theirs. Yes, things really do change.
Mom was raised in Wilmington, California, in the harbor of Los Angeles. She was born in this home in 1912. She lived here, with her parents, two brothers and two sisters. Her description: "This home purchased by my parents had been a store at one time. No running water, no bath, no closets. Our clothes were hung on nails on the wall or on one fair piece of furniture in the bedroom. We had the usual wood stove for cooking and winter warmth . . . a windmill . . . an outhouse . . . Bossie our cow." This was one hundred years ago - in Los Angeles.
Her mother, my grandmother Rilda (Burch) Winchester, was raised in this house in Buffalo Valley, Tennessee. The picture is dated September 1916. It was home to Barney and Martha Burch and their twelve children. Barney was partially paralyzed by a bullet wound suffered in the Civil War, but supported his family first as a blacksmith, then as a farmer when his children were old enough to help. My mother's comment: They were very proud but poor folk.
When my mother was seven (in 1919) her father built another home in Wilmington, a block away from the first. Still not a palace, it had a living room, kitchen, three bedrooms, one full bath, and a laundry room with an adjacent toilet smaller than most porta potties. The 1920 Federal Census has six adults and three children living in this house: Grandpa and grandma, my mother, her eighteen year old sister (working as a telephone operator), two brothers, ages fourteen and twenty two, and finally her oldest sister with her husband and a brand new baby (one month old). Just try to imagine the logistics as this happy family prepares for the day at work or school.
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This site, A McLaren Migration, is maintained by David J. McLaren.
Updated May 5, 2005
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