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Happy Birthday, Granny!

2009/11/28

A fellow Sag, Granny would be 101 today.  She was born in Lowland, Pamlico County, NC in 1908.  Her father was Captain Jim Howerin, he had a cargo ship he ran from the Pamlico River in Washington, NC through the dismal swamp (kindly cleared by slaves in the 1700’s or perhaps early 1800’s-Must have been back-breaking, dangerous work) to Norfolk, VA.  Otherwise the water of the Atlantic is quite dangerous between Eastern central NC & Tidewater, VA, especially around the lower outer banks.  When she was 12-ish they moved to from Lowland to Belhaven by boat.  Back then they didn’t have a lot of bridges.  Even today that area is accessible only by boat.  NC has a ferry that goes over to Pamlico County from the Bath area.

Pamlico County came to be in about 1867, from parts of Craven (New Bern, an old port town) and Beaufort (not the town, the county seat is Washington) Counties.  Prior to that, in Colonial times the whole area of all those small counties–Beaufort, Hyde, Dare, prob. Martin,  Washington, Perquimans, were referred to as old Bath County.

Granny’s birth name was Thelma Plum Howerin.  She got her middle name from the obstetrician, whose name was Plum, and she told me she never liked it.  She married my Grandaddy, Harold Thorne White, Sr., in about 1929.  They were married at the Methodist parsonage in Belhaven.  Granny was blonde with blue eyes.  Her hair had turned gray by the time I knew her.  She was genteel, always smelled so fresh and I never saw her sweat.  She wore light mauve lipstick, and you know how everyone has a certain way of “molding” their lipstick by the way they apply it?  Granny applied hers by pursing her lips and running the lipstick between the pursed lips.  The shape ended up being like a 2 sided skateboard ramp.  My lipstick always ends up flat.  You know, I might not remember correctly.  Maybe Granny’s lipstick was like 1/2 a ramp & I’m thinking of Cheryl with the 2 sided.

Granny had 3 sisters I remember, Nellie, born about 2 years after her, who I knew well.  She also lived in Belhaven and lived on the water.  We would swim at her house and also watch the 4th of July fireworks on her pier.  Her other sister was Vera, or Sissy.  She lived in Beaulaville in Duplin County.  Her husband kind of looked like Grandaddy and he was really nice & funny.  Her other sister, gee, don’t remember her name.  Only saw her once, at Granny’s funeral, and she looked a lot like Granny.  She lived in Norfolk.   Granny had several brothers.  I knew her brother, Calvin.  He lived in Belhaven.  He was a waterman and a pig farmer and I think earlier in life he was a merchant marine.  She had 2 other brothers who lived in Norfolk and I never met.  They were Herman and Vernon.  They were also watermen, and I think merchant marines.

We loved Granny.  She was very grandmotherly.  She always had something chocolate around the house.  She made the strongest, sweetest iced tea.  Her fried chicken was so good.  I remember her potato salad, chicken and rice, biscuits, bacon and this great cake that I guess was called a marble cake and had fudge icing on it and through it.  That was the best.  She made good fudge.  She liked chocolate.   I loved being at her house.  It always felt so safe.  She had a big front porch on Main Street which was perfect for people watching.  Her house was clean as a pin.  It was cool in the summer and toasty in the winter.  Granny liked to be comfy, like myself.  I remember Granny had a 1974 Monte Carlo.  She could put the metal to the pedal because I remember she got a speeding ticket in that car.

She was the town clerk of Belhaven all through the 1960’s, and, later, she and Nellie shared tax collector duties.  Each worked 1/2 day, Granny in the morning and Nellie in the afternoon.  Granny had a jewelry box full of costume jewelry that I used to run my fingers through.  I loved the texture and sound of the beads slipping through my hands.  With Granny you always felt special, because you were alone.  If my siblings and cousins were there I did not feel special.  She had her favorites and I wasn’t one of them!  That doesn’t mean she didn’t treat me well, because she did.  But it was always more fun to be alone with Granny.  That’s just how it is when you come from a family with 4 kids!  You have to take your special treatment whenever and wherever you can!

Happy Birthday, Granny.  I love you!

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2 Responses to “Happy Birthday, Granny!”


  1. it would be much better if we could buy a Jewelry box that is gem studded..,


  2. “;, that seems to be a great topic, i really love it ;:”


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