Friday, May 22, 2009

Her Irish Eyes ~ They Were A Smilin'

Growing Green Bamboo PlantsImage by via Flickr
Alice Florence (Vaughan) Truitt
With each name that I research, it still amazes me the finds that I make in my pursuit of my family's genealogy and the stories that I find behind their names.  Sometimes, though, the story leads to the name, or a picture, or another person to add to the family tree...Today I'd like to introduce you to my "Boo".  No, it's not Boo Radley [Silly. That's a fictional character.], but my great-grandmother, Alice Florence [Vaughan] Truitt.  I don't have a picture of her unfortunately, but I do have the story behind her name.

A Bean Counter is Off to Mexico
James Wesley Blacketer Passport ApplicationMy grandfather, James Wesley Blacketer was born in Council Bluffs, Iowa 22 Mar 1894, grew up in Missouri, joined the army, was stationed at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, and this is where he met and married my Gran, Mary Alice Truitt [Boo's daughter].  My grandfather [who I never met] was pretty much a "bean counter" all of his life, which [no offense, but] doesn't usually lead to an adventurous life.  However, my grandfather managed to put a little pizzaz into his life when he secured a position with a company in Tampico, Tamaulipas, Mexico.  Yes, you read correctly. Mexico.  Now, growing up I had always heard about my grandparents and my eldest aunt living in Mexico for awhile, but never thought much about it until I found my grandfather's and my grandmother's applications for a U.S. Passport on  This was definitely a good find because the applications included a picture of the applicants, and I had never "seen" my grandfather before.

Tampico July 5th, 1949 PAAImage by MichaelB in Houston via FlickrIn the 1920's [and a little before], Tampico, Mexico was a booming city with the introduction of the tramway/railway and the development of natural resources such as oil.  Many companie
s came there to "set-up shop", and apparently many Americans in search of work followed them, and my grandfather was one of them.

Happy and Bilingual [Sort Of]
So, what does this have to do with how my "Boo" received her nickname?  Well, I'm getting to that. As you can see, in the picture that was used for my Gran's application, there are 3 people.  On the left, I believe is my Aunt Anne [actually, she's my Gran's sister, but we always called her Aunt Anne], my Gran is on the right, and she's holding my Aunt Happy. [There's a story there, too, with that name.]  Aunt Happy was about 6 months old here in this picture.  The story that I heard countless times was that when the family came back from Mexico, my Aunt Happy could only speak Spanish, with just a few words known in English.  One of these words [and apparently one of her favorites] was "bamboo" [I suppose they had some growing there where they lived].  When not speaking Spanish, she called everything "bamboo" including my [you guessed it] great-grandmother, Alice Florence [Vaughan] Truitt.  Try as they may, they couldn't get her to call her anything else, and eventually it was truncated by my Aunt Happy to just Boo. And she's been Boo ever since.

Her Irish Eyes, They Were A Smilin'
My Boo, Alice Florence [Vaughan] Truitt was born in Port Bolivar, Texas 23 Oct 1883. [Port Bolivar is the peninsula that was one of the hardest hit areas by Hurricane Ike last year and is also known as Bolivar Point and The Bolivar Peninsula.]  Unfortantely, I don't have many memories of my own of my Boo.  In fact, I have just one.  I remember my Aunt Mary Anne and my Uncle Lloyd bringing Boo for a visit in the early 1970's and she was quite elderly then.  Uncle Lloyd was forever yelling at her.  No, not really yelling at her, but speaking very loudly to her [it just seemed to me like he was yelling].  Well, I never understood why he did that, so I asked him.  He replied that Boo was hard-of-hearing then he walked off.  I then turned to my Boo and said "I don't yell, and you're able to hear me just fine."  She replied, "Don't worry about him.  I just do it to annoy him."  [A woman after my own heart.]  
[Howth and Ireland's Eye. County Dublin, Irela...Image by The Library of Congress via Flickr [Howth & Ireland's Eye. County Dublin, Ireland.]

My Boo was a spry thing for being, at the time, just over 90 yrs old. [She passed away at age 94 in 1978.] Oh, that reminds me.  She danced the Irish Jig on her 90th birthday. I wish I had memories of it. I'm sure, though, her mother [my great-great grandmother] Annie (O'Brien) Vaughan's Irish eyes were a smilin' an' a watchin' from abov', stompin' her fee' an' clappin' her hands.
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  1. What a character Boo was! I love the mental picture of her dancing the Irish jig, and also the fact that she would pretend to be hard of hearing.

  2. Seems like southerns always have a nickname. What a great story.
    It's funny because I call my grandmother BooBoo and so does many others now thanks to me when was a toddler. The name she wanted us grandkids to call her was Momma Bernice. Well I couldn't say that and booboo came out so that's what it has been for over 40 years. I called her both once I got old enough to handle Momma Bernice.
    Have a great weekend,

  3. Interesting reading, Caroline... Seems as if your "Boo" (great Grandmother) was quite a character... Dancing the Jig at age 90 must have been super!!!!

    I love Family History---but my family was small. I was the baby --and Mom was 42 when I was born and Dad was 53.. ALL of my grandparents on both sides were dead before I was born. How sad is that!

    I only remember my Great Aunts and I had 8 of them---4 on each side of the family.

    Glad you are getting all of this written down. Hopefully generations in the future will enjoy reading this.



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