Oddenino Family History

Often we don't fully appreciate our experiences as they are happening and only through the prism of time are we able to fully savor many of the events in our lives. Thanks to the family members who share their recollections below as they spark our own memories or they just flat out entertain us.


Here we have a photo of Barabara Eaheart Merical answering nature's call in the famous outhouse at the Oddenino farm in Aroda, Virginia. While the photo doesn't provide the olfactory character of the location, you might imagine a very ripe odor and you would be right. Barbara "posed' for this photo at the insistence of her sister Joanie and her aunt Nancy. Isn't family wonderful? Actually, Barbara was lucky as there is toilet paper present in the corner. Sometimes it was only an old Sears catalog, or worse yet, dried corncobs. Ouch.

The plumbing for this outhouse was as follows: a deep hole was dug in the ground and the structure you see in the photo was then placed on top of the hole. Once the hole was nearly full (yes, this was easy to determine), a new hole would be dug and the structure moved to the new hole. The old hole was filled in with dirt. Thus, you had a constantly shifting outhouse!


(I found it difficult to organize the recollections into precise categories as many overlap and defy easy classification. Thus, if you find the placement of the recollections to be somewhat arbitrary, it is because it was somewhat arbitrary!)

Isn't it funny that all of us refer to our grandparents place as "the country"! The "country" was truly the original "Magical Kingdom"!. So many childhood dreams and fantasies were made there. – Joanie Eaheart Morse

To me, as a kid, there was nothing better than the trips to the country at Christmas and in the Summer.  Oyster Stew for Christmas Dinner was a constant.  The wonderful warmth of the wood stove was a treat.  -- Donna Smonskey Cantrell

The taste of Grandma's chicken was out of this world. As I remember it, she would fry it on top of the wood stove, then add cream and lots of black pepper and bake it in the oven.Lynn Oddenino

That chicken was usually fresh as I remember Granny taking me outside with her and watching with amazement as she grabbed a chicken, chopped its head off with a hatchet, let it go only to see it run around in circles with no head. It would finally drop and she would have that chicken plucked and ready to cook before you knew it.Michael L. Oddenino

At Christmas, Grandma would always have a coconut cake and a fruit cake. This year, Mary Alice sent my dad some of the fruitcake and one bite took me back many years. I'm not a big fan of fruit cake, but that recipe is really special. – Lynn Oddenino

The dining room was always colder than the rest of the house. After a big dinner, the food on the table would be covered with a sheet and left for "supper." – Lynn Oddenino

I remember Mary Alice's colorful boyfriend Eugene, who use to bring his goats in Granny's house - like someone might bring a dog in.  He recently passed away.  Killed by one of his own Bulls.  -- Donna Smonskey Cantrell

There was a big rock out in the lower field that had a flat ledge on it and aunt Nancy swore that Indians had used it as a sacrificial altar. -- Michael L. Oddenino

I don't know whether it was some fungus or actually blood stains on a flat ledge of that rock, but we believed it as the truth and there were times when I actually thought some Indians were still living in the dark recesses of the woods. There was a field way off in the distance from the house where no grass ever grew and no crops were ever planted. Granddaddy told us that was because it was an Indian burial ground! I remember stories from my Mom about how they as children would walk behind the plow and pick up arrowheads by the dozens that they would sell for a penny a piece! – Joanie Eaheart Morse

On visits to see Granny Bazzle, I would sit under some trees in her front yard and be amazed at the small cacti type plant that grew underneath. It was the first time I had ever seen this plant and I was intrigued by the prickles. – Lynn Oddenino

Going to Granny Bazzles was a treat because Granny Bazzle always gave us her famous sugar cookies. How I wish one of us had her receipe! -- Joanie Eaheart Morse

Who could forget the big pot-bellied stove in Granny Bazzle's living room, the one Janet burned herself on.-- Michael L. Oddenino

Uncle Otis was another pot-bellied feature of the country. Always a friendly guy and yet still seemed like quite the odd character to a young kid. -- Michael L. Oddenino

Going to Granny Bazzles was much more subdued than going to our Grandparents farm at Aroda. At least from my recollections, we rarely went anywhere except one room in the house or on the porch. Did anyone ever venture upstairs there? I never did. I remember only the long stairway and the darkness at the top. Usually the grownups would stay indoors and talk and we children would go out on the porch and swing in the big swings. Sometimes Uncle Otis would be swinging on another swing across from us. He would stare at us and just laugh and laugh and we could not figure out why he was laughing, but I always found it unnerving! – Joanie Eaheart Morse

That natural spring in the woods seemed like an exciting treasure find and the water was cold and sweet. -- Michael L. Oddenino

The spring was magical and the water was divine! – Lynn Oddenino

I see that all of us grandchildren remember the spring in the woods... with the soft green moss around it and the taste of its sweet water! Before there was electricity to the house, this spring was used to keep perishables from spoiling. There was a wooden or metal grate that was placed in the water and jars placed in it for keeping cold. It was a bit of a walk between the house and the spring just to get a cup of milk; and sure makes us appreciate our modern refrigerators right in our own kitchens! – Joanie Eaheart Morse

The woods on the farm were not only exciting to explore because of the mystery they seemed to hold in store, but also because you could play in the old abandoned cars that seemed to suggest to a kid that Granpa must be rich to just put so many old cars out in the woods. -- Michael L. Oddenino

All those old cars in the woods were a marvel! How many of them were there? Granddaddy always told us not to play in the cars during the summer because of the snakes! You can believe that I always heeded his word! – Joanie Eaheart Morse

I remember Granddaddy (MUWHSS) having his cereal in the morning and then drinking the milk and cereal right out of the bowl. I thought, wow, my mother would never let me do that. – Janet Oddenino

Everyone called Granpa Oddenino by the nickname of MUWHSS (hard to write to replicate the pronunciation) and no one knows how he got that nickname, at least no one who is alive today. – Michael L. Oddenino

Granny was always tickled when we would ask to see her jewelry box! At the time the box held all the diamonds and gems that a girl could ask for! Judy and I would sit for hours sifting through what we now refer to as "costume jewelry"! -- Janet Oddenino

I recall that Granny's phone line was a "party line." You could pick up the phone and hear other folks talking ... sort of like a retro Facebook. Of course, if someone else was using the line you had to wait until they were done. And you could listen in on other people's conversations, not that anybody ever did that. :^) -- Linda Oddenino Roberts

In the summer we would have to take a bath outside in those round metal tubs. I remember being mortified that we were naked for the world to see. – Janet Oddenino

I recall that Aunt Mary Alice and Aunt Nancy always gave us dollar bills when we visited and they usually slipped my brother Dan a couple extras. -- Linda Oddenino Roberts

I always remember that it was very hard to leave, and as a city kid - I wished I could live in the country. -- Donna Smonskey Cantrell

When we were told to get ready to leave, Granny would insist that we have a Coca-Cola! We would quickly run to the fridge, pop open our beverage and thus delay our departure . . . go Granny! – Janet Oddenino

In the summer - I remember we caught numerous toads, even found a three legged toad in the vicinity of the spring.  I have heard that nowadays toads are very very hard to find.  -- Donna Smonskey Cantrell

I loved going to the country store with Grandpa. He would buy me a piece of candy and I would stand very close to his chair while he sat around and talked with all the other "old" men. I was a little afraid of getting too far away from him. The store seemed dark, musty and smoky, and I don't remember any women being there. It was definitely a man's hangout. – Lynn Oddenino
There always seemed to be men out front of the store, wearing bib overalls, sitting in chairs, talking and drinking Dr Pepper or Coca Cola from glass bottles. They taught me to take Tom's brand salted peanuts and pour them into the soda. It added a salty flavor to the drink and the peanuts seemed to taste better after their soda wash. -- Michael L. Oddenino

Grandma had a little carnival glass drinking glass in her bathroom. I believe it was marigold in color. I was fascinated by the iridescent finish and, as an adult, have spent many wonderful hours searching in antique shops for similar pieces. – Lynn Oddenino

Nancy and Mary Alice would take us down to the "branch" (a small creek down from the back side of the house) where we would hunt for Indian clay. This special gray clay was found among the red clay banks of the branch. We would scoop it us by hand into an old hubcap or bucket and take it back to the house. There we formed whatever creations allowed by our imaginations. Once hardened by the air and sun, we had balls, hot dogs, bread, cups, small plates or whatever that we took to our "play houses" in the woods. – Joanie Eaheart Morse

I remember cousin Danny being out in the field seeing the bull when he suddenly thought that it was going to charge him - he took off running for his life and then made a flying leap over the barbed wire fence to save himself. I think the bull actually just took a few steps towards him . . . still laughing! – Janet Oddenino

I loved playing with Grandma's cats - it seemed that most of them did not have tails. Later, I read an article about a type of tailless cat that was brought to Virginia and bred by Thomas Jefferson. It made me wonder . . . – Lynn Oddenino

It was a beautiful spring day and Jimmy and I were taken to the country by Uncle John. When we got to Granny’s, John told us that if we caught a chicken in the chicken coop we could take it back home to Arlington. He further told us that if we put salt on their tails, it would slow them down and make it easier for us to catch them. We chased those chickens all day in and out of the Chicken Coop. About 3 hours into our adventure, I remember Jimmy looking up at me and saying “I think the salt is working because they are slowing down”! To make a long story short, we worked all day and chased many lbs. off both the chickens and ourselves. By the end of the day, we finally caught one of those fine feathered beasts. With great pride and excitement we took it up to Granny’s house and announced to John and Granny we had caught us a chicken and couldn’t wait to take it home. Looking back, I can tell you John was perplexed for a moment. What was he going to do now? Well, he simply told us our mother wouldn’t allow us to own a chicken in Arlington and we would need to leave it at Granny’s. In hindsight, I think John was looking for a baby sitter and used the chickens. -- Barbara Eaheart Merical
I recall during one of my family's visits that Granny's pigs dug a hole under their pen fence and escaped. My dad, who Granny called "Jake" though his name was Al, spent the rest of the day and part of the evening tracking and chasing the pigs all around. I'm not sure how they were recaptured but we got to stay for an especially long visit. -- Linda Oddenino Roberts

I loved going to the country and seeing Mable, the horse. I was pretty young so I doubt I actually rode her, but can remember sitting on her back and being overcome with the sheer thrill of it all. – Lynn Oddenino