End of an Adventurous Thanksgiving Weekend

November 26, 1972 on 7:33 pm | In Holidays | Comments Off on End of an Adventurous Thanksgiving Weekend

This Thanksgiving weekend was a lot of traveling and a fun adventure for Steve and me. First, we had Thanksgiving dinner in Montross with the Bryants. Friday, Steve went hunting with his brothers and got a deer. Then, Saturday morning, we left home early and drove all the way to Blacksburg to spend time with my girlfriend, Denise and her boyfriend, who are going to Radford College. They have a little apartment in Blacksburg with a sleeper sofa, so we packed for an overnight and had a great time being tourist at both Radford and Virginia Tech campuses, which are pretty much deserted because everyone has gone home for Thanksgiving with their families.

We had dinner at Denise’s apartment and stayed up late talking and having fun and played cards for a while. Sunday morning, we had a nice brunch and then we had to head home for the 6 hour drive back, as Steve has to be in bed no later than 9:00 every night so he can go to work in the morning.

We left Blacksburg and were heading up highway 81 when we noticed we were running low on gas. We had filled up before we left home and my car gets really good gas mileage, but we are driving through the mountains and that seems to cut down on your mileage. I get nervous when the hand drops below a quarter tank.

We got off at an exit to find a gas station, but they were closed because it was Sunday. We hadn’t thought of that. We went to the next exit, and found that gas station was also closed. That was not good. I wanted to call Denise and ask her if she knew where we could get gas, but it was a long distance call back to her apartment so we couldn’t call her. We decided to head on to the next exit and keep trying. The gas hand was dropping lower and I was starting to freak out, when we came upon a truck stop. Thank goodness they were open and we were able to fill up, my little blue Capri sitting amongst dozens of huge 18 wheelers.

Our Thanksgiving in the Country

November 24, 1972 on 7:00 pm | In Bryants, Holidays | Comments Off on Our Thanksgiving in the Country

Our second Thanksgiving was in Montross with Steve’s family. It was the typical Bryant Clan holiday gathering. Everyone shows up at my mother-in-law’s house around 1:00 or 2:00 in the afternoon. They just straggle in according what else they had going on that day, bring food, and will be spending several hours together.

Most of the “menfolks” were up before dawn and headed out to the woods for the first day of deer hunting. The women got kids dressed and fed breakfast, and then started cooking whatever food they were bringing to the family feast. Everyone has their signature dish that they bring. As a new member of the family, I’m a little on the fringe of being included in this. I decided to bake homemade yeast rolls – as far as I know, no one else in the family does baking other than cakes and pies. Helen has been roasting turkeys and country ham for days ahead of time, to free up the oven for the rest of the goodies that need to be baked today.

People arriving are split by gender and age. The kids are dispatched to the back yard or the barn, the men sit around the TV in the living room, and the women are in the kitchen or setting up the table in the dining room with the china and silver from the dining room china cabinet. The table only seats 10, so the meal is divided into 3 or 4 seatings. As soon as the majority of people have arrived and the food is done, the 10 oldest men are invited to sit at the table and are served. They are starved by now, having been up so early and out hunting. The turkey is not carved at the table – Helen does that herself in the kitchen. The women bring bowls of food to the table and plop servings down on each of the plates, keep the tea glasses filled and bring seconds to anyone who asks for them.As soon as a plate is empty, it is whisked away and washed by hand for the next round.

When the first seating of men are finished, the rest of the men and the older kids are seated and served. Again, the women serve the diners and as the kitchen starts getting cleaned up and the serving bowls thin out, the younger children are put in the kitchen around the kitchen table and fed. Again, as soon as the plates are empty, they are washed and dried and made ready for the next seating.

Finally, the women eat. They put all the rest of the food in the middle of the table and help themselves to what they want. Somehow they never run out of the food and there are actually leftovers to put up and send home with people. After the women have eaten, the table is completely cleared and re-set for dessert. A big pot of coffee is brewed, Harvey Bryant drinks endless coffee and it is a must at every meal. Along with the coffee and sweet tea, there is an assortment of baked goods from which to choose. They always have sweet potato pies rather than pumpkin pie, because they grow their own sweet potatoes. There are also pecan pies and since they needed coconut for the sweet potato pie, Helen also used the coconut to make her famous and most divine, melt in your mouth, white layer cake with coconut frosting.

No one leaves empty handed. Leftovers are wrapped in tin foil or saran wrap and there is plenty of turkey and ham for everyone to have sandwiches the rest of the weekend.


February 23, 1953 on 12:27 pm | In Beryl, Bill Manvell, Early Childhood | Comments Off on Moving

More from my mom on our childhood years.We lived in the house at Spring Lake through the 2nd grade. But then, that summer, we suddenly left that house and stayed with my mom’s best friend, Ms. Jinx. We thought we were staying there for a couple of weeks while men worked on the house, but it turned out it was just a safe place for us while my mom found a job and an apartment in Fairfax. For the 3rd grade we went to Layton Hall in Fairfax, but then we moved to Arlington and I went to Page Elementary for the 4th through 6th grades.

We had fun doing the Lions Club “Clown Minstrel Shows” but I couldn’t take it any more. You all were 8, 7 and 4 and we moved in with Ms Jinx till I found a job (back at Baumbachs, and an apartment for us near Ms. Jinx). You and Linda went to the same school as the Tudors. I paid Ms. Jinx to keep Lori all day and you two after school, til I picked you up after work around 5:30.

My year lease was up, and Grandma Bobbie had bought a house in Vienna Woods. She said we could live in her basement with some construction of room dividers. I was working and dating Dad, so he partitioned the basement. We had a living room with a pull out couch I slept on, and one bedroom for you girls. There was a bathroom and a utility room. Had no stove, so used electric pots.

We stayed there til I married Dad and we moved to 15th St. in August 1962.

Taking Baby Home

February 22, 1953 on 10:18 am | In Beryl, Bill Manvell, Early Childhood, My Grandparents | Comments Off on Taking Baby Home

My mother wrote about where they lived after getting married and when I was born:

We rented a one bedroom apt. in Falls Church – didn’t have much money, so only had necessary furniture. Daddy’s parents were dead set against us wasting money on rent and insisted we buy land and build a house. Bought a lot in Spring Lake, Vienna, and attempted to personally build a house.

Meanwhile, they wanted us to live with them while building to save money. I insisted on our own bigger room and bath for privacy. We had to build the room off the kitchen but the bathroom never happened. It remained a closet.

I still worked in Arlington for “W. J. Baumbach Plumbers.” A plumber lived in Vienna and picked me up in his plumbing truck at 7:30 A.M. and Daddy picked me up around 5:00P.M.

All our friends had babies, so we wanted one, too. Pop Pop and Grandma Bobbie now lived in N. Arlington and my doctor was in D.C., so Vienna was WAY OUT IN THE BOONIES.

Grandma H. was next to impossible to live with. She wanted to take care of me and was my shadow. It was driving me nuts.

Grandma Bobbie wanted us to stay with them the last month (of my pregnancy) to be closer to D.C. We did, but they were drunk all the time and Grandma J came down for the big event. Every evening the three of them fought while drinking and overcooking supper. We stayed there a couple of weeks after you were born, them moved back with the Manvells to finish our house.

Finally had a roof, windows and doors and second hand appliances, so we moved in and for several years tried to finish the house (which we really never did before selling it as part of the divorce settlement). Daddy was always working – construction superintendent, drawing house plans, and his band. I insisted on being the stay-at-home Mom that I never had. Things were tough.


How My Parents Met

February 21, 1953 on 10:07 am | In Beryl, Bill Manvell, My Grandparents | Comments Off on How My Parents Met

My mother sent me an email with this story of meeting my father for the first time.

How I met your Daddy: When Pop Pop was stationed at the Navy annex in Arlington, we lived in South Arlington and I became friends with 2 sisters, Yvonne and Saphronia Sparks, that lived next door to us and went to W & L and the same Baptist church.

Grandma Bobbie sent me back to live with Grandma J. in Malden , Mass., as we three didn’t get along at all. I was all church and temperance involved and they were all for drinking and having fun. I was very friendly with my minister and wife in Revere, MA, and they had a daughter Gracia, (much older in a seminary studying to be a minister) that took me under their wings.

Gracia and her boyfriend, Bob (also in the seminary), arranged a blind date for me with a fellow student and friend. We double dated all year and we became engaged. I moved back to Virginia to graduate earlier – I was lacking 0ne credit to graduate, so went to summer school to graduate in February 1950 – so I could get married and become a minister’s wife.

Absence didn’t make the heart grow fonder. I went back to Mass. to marry him, but we broke up instead. Grandma J. could not afford to take care of me, and Pop Pop paid her and gave me four weeks to find a job so I could stay. I had a promised job with the phone company, but they couldn’t start me for another week past the four, so Grandma Bobbie came up and took me back to Virginia.

Picked up my friends I had made at the church when living there before in Arlington, even though we now lived in Alexandria. Yvonne and her husband, Chuck Goodson (Daddy’s drummer), took me to Hunters Lodge, a dance hall on Lee Hwy in Fairfax one Sat. night to introduce me to the “the band leader,” Billy Manvell, with the thought of arranging a blind date later. Wow, was I impressed –  “The band leader!”


Daddy proposed on our second date. I said, “No.”

We were both so unhappy living with parents that a couple of months later we were married, June 23, 1951.

My Name

February 20, 1953 on 10:00 am | In Beryl, Bill Manvell, Early Childhood, My Grandparents | Comments Off on My Name

I asked my mother how they chose my name and this is what she sent me:

Pop Pop was Capt. of a patrol craft ship (PCS) in Key West 1947. Even though he was an officer (Ensign), Grandma Bobbie and he hung out at the “Chief’s Club” on the Navy base. They were more fun.

One chief, Jack Cunningham, had a step daughter too, Lola, who was 18. He asked if he could introduce her to me, I was 16 and a junior in high school, and take her to the USO as she had no friends. Lola had a 3 year old brother, John, and a baby sister, Noreen Marie.

We liked the name Noreen and picked Carol out of the air because it sounded good. Noreen Carol Manvell. You were not named after her – we just liked the name.

My Birthday

February 19, 1953 on 12:00 pm | In Beryl, Bill Manvell, Early Childhood, Medical | Comments Off on My Birthday

Wednesday night my mother thought she might be going into labor. She waited a while but finally called the doctor and he told her to come on to the hospital.

My mother and father lived temporarily in Alexandria, a small town about 20 minutes from Washington, DC. The only hospital in the area was in DC, so my father carried a suitcase and helped my mother get into the car. He drove very fast and since it was very late at night, he ran the red lights (safely but with a sense of urgency) to get to Columbia Hospital for Women as fast as they could.

The doctor met them there and helped my mother get through several hours of labor. Then, just before dawn, I was born.

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