Floyd Griswold Greene wrote this account of his family and his early life for his daughters.
It was at the Oak Hill schoolhouse that another boy and I agreed to come to school the following morning bare-footed. I got there first and felt so self conscious about it all that I hid in the woodshed until the other boy got there, and I was very glad to see him. I have no recollection as to the name of, or the ability or personality of the teacher there.
When we got to Lima I went to the district school down in the center of the village, though we lived in a room in the Seminary on the hill. The Seminary was a Methodist institution and was long famous, but a few years ago it had to follow the course of similar private institutions and close for lack of patronage. For a short time the government operated it in connection with their Youth Program, but it closed again; until, in the autumn of 1947, it was again opened by the Methodists as a junior college and it has about 125 freshmen there for the present year. In the fall of this year, 1948, it will have both freshman and sophomore courses. Herb Wait, Jr., son of my associate here in the office, goes there. (It is now Elim Bible Institute.)
The school building down town is not there now, having been torn down to be replaced by a village hall. My mother worked very hard, practicing for hours at a time. Her purpose in being there was to prepare herself to teach piano lessons and thus make a living for herself and for me.
I guess I got into more or less mischief. At one time several of us young fry were playing in a field where there was dry grass, and one of the others set a fire. Alarmed, I stomped it out, to the disgust of the others.
The principal had a little girl, with whom I played. She cut my nose with a piece of glass, so that the scar can still be seen. Just what was the occasion, if any, for her wanting to do away with me I do not now know.
Some of the larger town boys threw snowballs at me in going to and from school, and the teacher brought me home a few times. I remember sitting in the district school and hearing the older ones recite their lessons, and I learned, before I was supposed to, most of the multiplication tables and other things.
I know we had to take some of our furniture to Lima, to help furnish the room, and there was a dresser, which we recently loaned to Ruth and is in her dining-room at Geneseo, serving as a buffet, which was one of the pieces.
While at Lima some of the girl students used to borrow me now and then, and one night one of them took me to a sorority meeting. I fell asleep and the girl forgot and went off without me, and I had to be rescued later.
In connection with the settlement of my father's estate, Mr. Pealer and my mother were naturally associated quite a bit, and eventually he got to "keeping company" with her. As can be seen from the photographs in our family album, taken not too long after their marriage, both of them were nice looking people, and seemingly eligible as a youngish widower and widow. Mr. Pealer was always neat appearing, and he had a spanking team, which he kept in the barn where we lived in South Dansville, together with a shining "top buggy" over which he kept a white cloth to keep the dust off. After we moved up on the hill he used to drive up there and take my mother riding.
At one of those times, I was unruly, and nasty, and, for the only time that I can recall, my mother spanked me. I remember the event very clearly and want to put myself on record as saying that it was a richly deserved licking. Mr. Pealer must have been a brave and/or loving man to be willing to take me on as an appurtenance which had to go along with my mother. Though I must insist that, as the years went by, I caused him little trouble and he was as fond of me as he was of his own boy. Likewise, I was very fond of him, and our relationships were always pleasant. Wade and I were always "the boys" and there was no partiality as between us on his part. How an own father could have been any better to me I do not know.
After my mother completed her studies at Lima, we moved back into the Pealer house in Rogersville. Uncle Hub and Aunt Clara were also living there, but in a way we had separate rooms. We all used the same kitchen, but there were two separate tables in the dining-room, and we had two separate sitting rooms, as I recall. I slept with my mother in a small bedroom at the head of the stairs. At that time I do not know whether Uncle Hub was running our old grist mill, or whether he was running a small feed mill that he did run nearby at one time. I do not know who bought the big stone grist mill following my father's death, or who ran it just after Uncle Hub ceased to do so. Eventually, when I was a bit older, it was bought by Byron Wallace, who had a daughter, Leona, who quite intrigued me in later Rogersville district school days.
Following our return to the village, and until her marriage, my mother supported us by her piano teaching. Some of the pupils came to our house for their lessons, and for others she drove Mr. Pealer's horse to their homes. It seems to me that at one time we had a piano as well as the organ in the sitting room; though it may be that the pupils who came to the bouse took organ lessons. My mother would drive in different directions on different days, and thus teach more than one on a trip. It must have been a hard racket for her to do that and to run our share of the house.
I cannot remember much of the "courtship" after our return to the village. I well remember, though, when my mother told me that she and Mr. Pealer were to be married. We were in the little bedroom and I shed bitter tears. Just why, I cannot understand. I think it was a very good idea and it worked out first rate all around. A couple of years or so had elapsed since my father's death, and Mr. Pealer was, I guess, thought to be a very good "catch." He was a good husband, a good father and a good step-father until his death in October, 1914, at the Steuben Sanitarium, in Hornell. I think the date was about October 3rd, and he had been in the Sanitarium since the preceding February.
I remember the wedding very definitely. It took place on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 26, 1885, and I was then 7 years old. Wade, Mr. Pealer's boy was a year and 8 months older than I. His mother's sister, Mrs. Eveland, with whom Wade and his father had lived since Wade's mother's death, did not take kindly to the idea of the marriage. It was thought that it would be a cute idea for Wade and me, right after the ceremony, to bounce from our respective corners and kiss the bride and groom. Sort of seal the contract with a couple of kisses, I suppose. I did it all right, but Wade did not; and my mother always thought, whether rightly or wrongly, that Mrs. Eveland, with whom he was standing, put him up to it. So, while there was always a speaking acquaintance between the two families, there wasn't that close association that might be expected between in-laws residing in the same village.
It was to Mrs. Eveland's house that I later walked, in my sleep, in the evening, without shoes or a hat, to endeavor to locate a church hymnal, about which my mother and the choir had been talking when I lay down on the couch and went to sleep. You've all heard the story. After I was missed a search was instituted for me, and I was awakened, just as I was coming from the Eveland house, by Wilson White shouting. "Here he is." Mrs. Eveland had gone upstairs and searched for the book I inquired about, but failed to find one. Mrs. Ames was calling there and asked me why I had no hat on, as it was cold weather, and I replied that I had come away in such a hurry that I had forgotten it. Neither of them observed that I had no shoes on. When I got home—Mr. Pealer carried me, I recall—my mother had been crying, fearing I had gone down and fallen into the mill pond. Walking in one's sleep is funny. My eyes were open and after it was over I could recall every thing that had happened; and I can remember it all now. I walked in my sleep a number times when I was a boy, but nothing else occurred that was so serious as that trip down to Mrs. Eveland's.
To get back for a moment to the wedding, it occurred in our "sitting room," on the southeast side of the house. The room was filled with guests but I do not recall who the minister was. My mother had had a lot of dress-making done just prior to the wedding, and I recall that she looked very nice in her traveling suit. I know there was something to eat after the wedding, and that then the new bride and groom drove away to take a train for a wedding trip to Pennsylvania, to visit Mr. Pealer's relatives. He had two sisters, a Mrs. Drum being one, who lived at Fishing Creek, Pa., not far, I think, from Wilkes-Barre. An uncle, Samuel Pealer, who was a surveyor, also lived near there.
When Mr. Pealer, "Grandpa Pealer" to you girls, and "Grandma Pealer" were married, they were both comparatively young persons; he 42 and she 36. Strangely, neither ever called the other by his or her first name. He called my mother "Mrs. Pealer" and she called him "Mr. Pealer." And Wade and I designated them the same way. Why, I do not know.