My Adventure Through Our Family Tree Branches

For over 50 years my Dad researched both his and my Mom's family tree branches - and loved every minute of it! Trying to fulfill the promise I made him the last month of his life, I have spent the past four years continuing where he left off - finding out about all the many family members who came before us, from the many branches of our family trees. The histories will still be published as my Dad always wanted. But what he wanted most was to share the stories of the people who came before us - the places they lived, the cultures of the times, the families they created, and the circumstances - good and bad - that would one day lead to us, their descendants. These are the stories of my Mom's families. . . .

Surnames in this Blog


Thursday, June 13, 2013

THURSDAY'S TREASURE - Grandmom's Earbobs

One Pair of Grandmom's Earbobs
Treasures can come in all shapes and sizes. The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines a treasure as follows: "(1) wealth of any kind or in any form; (2) something of great worth or value; also : a person esteemed as rare or precious; (3) a collection of precious things." I know that throughout my large extended family there are treasures of great monetary value, treasures passed on through generations and treasurers with great stories behind them. The treasure that I want to share today doesn't fit any of these descriptions. But they are precious and of great worth to me - my grandmother's earbobs.

Susie Flemming O'Donnell
wearing a pair of earbobs - 1992
Susan Elizabeth Flemming O'Donnell (1909-1999) was hoot. She told me at one of my bridal showers in 1990 that she was always invited to parties throughout her life "because she was cheaper than hiring a clown." She was the mother of eight children and the grandmother of twenty. At the time of her death she also had nineteen great-grandchildren. She had been married to the love of her life, John Huber O'Donnell (1905-1964), and was widowed when she was just 54. Her faith and her family kept her going, and she lived 35 years longer as the matriarch of my mother's family.

She was a southern lady - born and bred in Birmingham, Alabama - a product of her times. But she was also a rare, one-of-a-kind treasure to her family, friends and all who had the unique pleasure to meet her. This post can't begin to do her the justice that her life and legacy deserve. So I won't attempt. But I can share these little treasurers that I was able to pick out - after all her other treasurers were chosen - from items that my mother got after her death. These treasures are Grandmom's "earbobs".

Grandmom, as we grandchildren call her, enjoyed dressing up to go out to lunch or dinner with family and friends. She always wore a necklace or a pin, maybe a bracelet or two, with her dress - pants or slacks were not a part of her public attire. Along with her various accoutrements she always wore "earbobs".  They were clip-on earrings, usually quite large and round, and mostly not of any great monetary value.
Earbobs with Matching Pin
She seemed to have dozens of pairs to choose from. I remember as a little girl going off to her bedroom while the adults talked in the living room, and looking in her jewelry box, full of all colors and styles of jewelry. I don't remember picking anything up or trying anything on, but I probably did. Her things were bigger and bolder than the styles my mother had at home in her jewelry case. My Mom seldom wore earrings - and never wore "earbobs". So Grandmom's treasures were unique unto her.

I tried to find the origin of the term "earbob". I couldn't find when or where the word originated, but I found numerous historical museums that had "earbobs" from native Americans in their collections. I found the term used in 19th century literature, as well as in more modern books. Many fans of the movie Gone with the Wind will remember Scarlett O'Hara offering her "earbobs" to Rhett Butler for collateral for a loan (he declined). The use of the word "earbobs" continued, mostly in the South, but the word is seldom heard anymore.

But I can't look at these inexpensive clip-on earrings that I chose as a keepsake from my grandmother without remembering the giggles from me and my sisters and cousins when Grandmom made any mention of her "earbobs". We thought it was so silly a word then. Now I see the word, and the earrings - and, of course, my grandmother - all as wonderful, precious treasures.

QUESTION - Do you remember Grandmom's earbobs? Or your own grandmother's earbobs? Add your memory (or comment) below to share.

1 comment:

  1. Loved your post. Found it precisely looking up origin and meaning of "earbob". Didn't get much info on that but you did bring memories of my grandma's earbobs as well as my mom's great collection. My mom is now 97 and would not consider leaving the house without some adornment on her ears. It seems I too have picked up the habit and have returned home more than once feeling "naked" around the ears... Thanks again and nice idea to blog about your family memories especially having so many branches and twigs 😉