Monday, November 9, 2009

Sonny & Sissy

Sonny and Sissy spent their formative years in Marion, Illinois, just north of the Kentucky border. They were born to Lloyd and Virginia Girtman and lived in the Chicago area. Their roots are German, French, Dutch, Irish, Cherokee Indian and a whole lotta hillbilly. Their grandmothers lived one block from each other and most summers were spent with their numerous aunts and cousins. Gardens were plentiful and there was never a shortage of discoveries to explore in that part of the world. Every home had at least two glazing balls in front. Busy Bee local market was just down the street. Fern Cliff offered its natural beauty and when it would rain Sissy could not help herself but play in the puddles (removing her drawers so as not to be reprimanded for doing so.) She was a "spirited youngun" and it was her way or the highway. Meals were so delicious and always with presentation. No one ever went hungry and simple pleasures were abundant. Southern fried cooking filled the air throughout the neighborhood, which was built by their Grandpa Kelton. Grandma Morgan had 8 children and always had room for visitors, many little bodies slept on the floors in years past.
Music was always the main form of entertainment and there was no shortage of talent in this family. Our cousin, Becky, performed on Barn Dance with management from her dad, Frank. Sonny owns an assortment of guitars and banjo and I recall so many vacation nights in Bass Lake, Indiana listening to the strum of his guitar along with Bob and even Sissy joined in. Diane was the best audience - always encouraging the three of them to play more songs. One of my very favorite memories as I turned 20ish was leaving our friends in the bar to join these 2 couples for a rousing night of music and rawhide. Sissy and Sonny remained close throughout their entire lives, including their spouses to enhance their tight-knit relationship. Their lives were not so easy as in those days discipline was much harsher than today and they were no stranger to a firm hand. Alcohol was rampant in their family and its effects left scars. Regardless of what struggles they endured, these beautiful kids overcame them with remarkable stride. They chose to keep the good memories alive and shared them with their children and eventually their grandchildren visited Marion.
Their dad travelled the world over many times and shared his adventures and stressed how educational visiting other cultures can be. Their mom, whom we called Nanny, had us over quite often and we visited while enjoying her delicious chili, a dish my mom perfected and I have since tried to perfect. I am proud of my roots and blessed to have Sonny (Bill) and Sissy (Virgie) in my life. As the preacher says, praise the Lord. xo