A Day in The Life of Harriet Matilda Hawkins McGavock

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Incredible things do happen in this lifetime and it is great if you can share it with someone you love. Harriet Matilda Hawking McGavock was my grandmother. This is about one event that she lived to see. But in a way it is about an event that all of America saw. This was how she made that event special for me.

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Chapter 1

Harriet Matilda Hawkins McGavock was my grandmother. She was the quintessential little old gray haired grandmother.I was one of 40 grandchildren that she lived to see born.There were also great-grandchildren, but I don’t recall how many.She was 78 years old that year and I would be 20 when my birthday finally rolled around.That would be in the autumn and this is about a day that happened that summer.In July of 1969 to be specific.Do you remember that day?If you were alive then and do not remember that day now, don’t worry.When I finish this story you will.

At that time my family and I were living in Albuquerque NM. At that time there were an amazing number of people who did not even know that New Mexico was a state in the union.It is.We were remodeling out house that summer and most of the family decided to take a vacation during the destruction that would have to happen.We decided that we would go back east to Illinois where I and my siblings had been born and where so many of my family still lived.We left my brother Steve at home to oversee the remodeling and take care of my german shepard, Judy.We picked up my cousin Celeste who was of the only branch of mom’s family that lived near us, my Aunt Joan’s daughter.

We left the 1st of July.As per usual we drove through the first night.The second night we spent with my mother’s sister Cay.She lived in Rolla MO. at the time.The next day we drove all together to my Uncle Dan’s house in Highland Park, IL.We were all there for his annual 4th of July get together.That was where we hooked up with my grandmother.We left my cousin Celeste there to spend sometime visiting Uncle Dan and his girls.My grandmother, it turned out, was planning on returning to Mo. with Aunt Cay and her husband.We decided we would join them at their cabin at The Lake of The Ozarks.My Dad got the driving directions from Cay’s husband, whom we all called Swede.

After that we went further east, to New Jersey. We dropped my little brother Curtis of at a naval summer camp in Tom’s River NJ.He would be there for the next several weeks.Then my folks and I went on a sort of tour of New England.I enjoyed that very much, but that is a different story.

Eventually we turned south. And we got to Memphis TN.We were there in the wee hours of the morning on this particular day.We caught some TV and then got some sleep.My Dad got us up about 6am.He was always an early riser.We grabbed a quick bite to eat at an all night place and left for The Lake of the Ozarks.Dad followed the instructions Uncle Swede had given him and we got to the cabin just as Aunt Cay was cleaning up from their breakfast.

I went into the cabin and gave Aunt Cay a hug and a kiss and asked her “Where’s Grandma?” She said, “Oh, I think she’s out on the lawn.”She pointed and I looked out the door of the cabin.Indeed, half way between the cabin and the actual Lake of The Ozarks was a grassy area with some lawn furniture arranged on it.There were some people down there.I went down there, and there was my grandma sitting on the furniture with a male friend of hers and my cousins Bee, one of Aunt Cay’s daughters.

I gave my grandma a hug and a kiss hello. She said to me, “Sit down, I want to tell you a story.” I sat down, with Bee next ot me, and she started in.“When I was a girl, things weren’t like they are now.You kids get away with murder.I grew up on a farm and we had a lot of chores to do.When we got up in the morning we had to put our chore clothes on and get our morning chores done.Then, since I was the oldest girl, it was my job to hitch the horse to the buckboard and drive the younger children and myself into school.I had to change out of my chore dress and into my school dress.If I wore dirty clothes to school I would get in trouble with the teacher and she would spank me.Then she would send a note home with me to my parents and they would spank me because the teacher had to spank me.If I did my chores in my school clothes I would get into trouble for ruining my good clothes and again my parents would spank me.If I was late for school the teacher would spank me again and send a note home and my parents would spank me.

One day I remember, I over sept. I dressed as fast as I could, and I got my chores done as fast as I could.I got the horse hitched to the buckboard and got the kids in it.Then I started driving off to school.That was when I realized that I had forgotten to change out of my chore dress.I didn’t know what to do.I was going to get it from the teacher and from my parents.Then I realized that I was going by our corn field that was right behind our house.So I pulled up the horse, threatened to kill the younger kids if they moved, and jumped out of the buckboard. I ran as fast as I could through the corn field and into the house.Iran upstairs and changed out of my chore dress and into my school dress as fast as I could.Then I ran back down the stairs, through the corn field, and jumped back into the buckboard.I whipped the horse up as fast as he would go and got to the school just as the teacher finished ringing the bell for the children to come into the school.”

At that point my Aunt Cay came out of the cabin and called us all to come in. When we got there, the TV was on.My Grandma and I squeezed together and got in front of it.My Grandma turned to Aunt Cay and pushed her hearing aid a little further into her ear.“Is this it?” she asked.“Are they going to walk on the moon now?”

People ask how long did it take for us to get from Kitty Hawk to the Moon. I tell them one lifetime.

July 20, 1969
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