Grandma Conner, Pocket Watches, Baseball & Rattlesnakes

One night when I was visiting family in Oregon my parents, older brother and uncle who was visiting from New Hampshire went out to dinner at Marco Polo, a place with very good food. I had the teriyaki chicken, which was delicious.

We got to talking about the family, the rattlesnakes on the old family farm and how a lot of the Hill boys — my grandfather and his brothers — played baseball, on church and competitive teams in Iowa and South Dakota.

The museum in Maxwell apparently houses at least some photos of the family. One is of my great uncle Clark Hill, a World War II vet who served with Patton I think, dressed in his baseball uniform. I am sure there’s a lot of gems in this place. I have never been inside. The last time I was in Iowa I think the place was closed. It has very limited hours. I think it is only open one day a week.

During this same visit to Iowa I met my grandfather’s older sister, Grace Weeks. She guided us to the old family farm near East Peru. The site is now a wildlife preserve.

I have been trying to find it using Google Maps and satellite photos to no avail. No one could remember precisely where it is. Thankfully my dad think cousin Maurice, son of Max and Evelyn, probably knows where it is located.

Grandma Conner had such poor eyesight that one cold morning after opening the front door she noticed something laying on the front porch. Thinking it was a broom, she bent down and picked it up, soon learning that it was no broom handle.

A rattlesnake had crept up the front steps to lay in the sun, trying to get warm. I’m sure this gave her quite a shock. No reports on what happened next, whether or not it sank its nasty little fangs into her. I am guessing somehow Grandma Conner avoided this.

I recall my great aunt, Grace Weeks, telling about how once someone overturned a mattress that had been sitting outside, discovering a group of snakes underneath.

Then I changed the subject. I brought up the pocketwatch my uncle has.

“Are there any photos of it?”

Sadly there aren’t. I’ve always wanted to take a look at it.

George Hay, my great grandfather, was the original owner. Given that my uncle has George for a middle name, it was given to him upon my great grandmother’s death. It is gold-colored, but I am not sure if it is actually gold-plated.

Then, my uncle said there was another family pocketwatch, another heirloom, one that’d I’d never heard mentioned before.

From what I can remember of the conversation, Grandpa Darling, George’s father-in-law, had a silver pocketwatch. Wayne Rasmussen who was christened with his name, Jerome, for his middle name, like my uncle and the name George, has it. He lived in New Jersey for years and now lives in North Carolina.

Once when my uncle visited Wayne he brought the watch along and the two heirlooms sat briefly side-by-side. Neither have any children so what will happen to the two pocketwatches is anyone’s guess. I am hoping the duo remain within the family.


One thought on “Grandma Conner, Pocket Watches, Baseball & Rattlesnakes”

  1. Thank-you Aaron for such wonderful reflections on the ancestors… it is a good thing that you are doing with your explorations in to history and the past..

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