ROSE NOLEN: A big family provides a lifetime of memories

Tuesday, January 7, 2014 | 6:00 a.m. CST; updated 7:25 p.m. CST, Tuesday, January 7, 2014

My grandfather was a carpenter. When I was a young girl, he built houses "from the ground up,” as we used to say. Later, when he had passed away and we had moved, my sister and I promised each other that we would always remember the houses he had built.

Of course, as time moved on, we forgot. My sister and I were adults by the time we remembered the promise, and the houses we had always agreed to remember had been torn down and discarded.

That was actually the second thing we agreed to remember about the little town where we grew up. The first thing we promised never to forget were the snowstorms.

Oh, how we remembered those storms.

We dressed for the snow in those days. We wore snowsuits. Those were the kind that zipped up the front, with pants and hoods. My brother, who lived with us before leaving to join the Navy, wore old white underwear, and the older boys would send him charging down the hill head-first, and we would follow his tracks to the end of the hill before we fell in a big snow ditch.

I grew up in a family of seven. Fortunately, my brothers and sisters all lived to be adults. We were a happy family, full of fun and laughter and lots of good times. Still, we had our ups and downs.

Most of us always spent Christmas in the home of my mother. We would travel from all points of the globe to be home. My brother almost never lived beyond Kansas City — so there was always a carload from Kansas City.

My oldest sister also lived in Kansas City, but sadly, those two siblings could never swing on the same end of the bat. For years on end, none of us could ever remember them being at the same place at the same time. One was either coming or going.

Finally, my brother moved to Minneapolis and my sister passed away.  But we still had enough memories saved up to keep us entertained for a lifetime. By the time they both left, the memories had ripened with age.

I’ll always be glad I grew up in a big family. No matter what happens, there is always someone around who still remembers.

Rose M. Nolen writes a weekly column for the Missourian. You can join the conversation by calling her at 882-5734 or emailing her at

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