Whistleberries: My first nickname. Twenty-third of twenty-six posts in the April 2017 Blogging From A to Z Challenge on the theme “Whispering Chimneys: My Altamont childhood” — where my genealogy journey began. Wish me luck — I’m in the home stretch!
My maternal grandparents lived with our family at Whispering Chimneys — but they had their own set of friends and social life over on their side of the farmhouse. And it was one of their friends who gave me my first nickname: Whistleberries.
My grandmother (we called her Boom) ran a country antique and collectibles shop down by the road. To keep the shop stocked, she and Gramps went to country auctions. That’s where they met Electa and Floyd, who became regular visitors to the farm.
I called them Aunt Electa and Uncle Floyd — though they weren’t related to us — and they seemed to be another well-matched couple. Electa was outgoing with a hearty laugh and personality as big as all outdoors — while I remember Floyd as more subdued.
At the dining table
During one of Electa and Floyd’s visits, my grandparents must have been babysitting me, because we were all gathered around their dining table together. My grandmother made Boston baked beans.
When Boom brought the steaming crock to the table, Electa said, “Well, what do you know — whistleberries!”
She was referring to the beans’ gas-inducing properties — but the idea of whistling berries started me laughing and I couldn’t stop!
After that, every time Electa visited all she had to say was “whistleberries” and I would collapse with laughter. Over time this morphed into, “Hey, Whistleberries!” when she saw me — and thus my first nickname was born.
The big hug
The other thing I remember about Aunt Electa was her big hug. If my brother Mark and I were around, she’d head right for us with her arms outstretched — and when she hugged you, you knew it!
In fact Mark, who was only about three, used to stiffen up in anticipation as soon as he heard her voice — and when Electa hugged him his little face would turn red!
Electa and Floyd were just two of many friends in my grandparents’ lives — but they were among the most memorable from my childhood.
Canajoharie country auctions
I wondered what became of Electa and Floyd, so I did some research and found Aunt Electa’s obtuary on Find-a-Grave. Turns out they were from Canajoharie in Montgomery County, New York — which is probably where my grandparents them on an antiques buying foray.
Friends, associates and neighbors like these can help us find our forbears in a sea of records — and they can also tell us a bit about our ancestors’ lives.
Aunt Electa and Uncle Floyd are prime examples, and I am so lucky to have met them.
Up next – X-mas at Whispering Chimneys. Please stop back!
© 2017 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.