This a sepia-toned portrait of my paternal grandparents, Ernest and Edna Brooks. The portrait was taken in the 1930s in some small town in the western part of Virginia.
My grandfather graduated from Appalachia High School
in 1933, joining his sister Della (1934), brother Willard (1938), brother Warren (1938), sister Georgia (1943), and brother Walter (1948) as family members who completed high school. This was no mean feat in a small Virginia town in the mountains.
They lived for many years in Appalachia, Virginia
, raising their six children in the rolling hills of coal country. My grandfather owned a Texaco gas station in Appalachia and was quite a knowledgeable mechanic. However, living in the the poorest part of the country - especially during and after the Great Depression - meant that business was never going to amount to much in that little town, and my grandparents drove up US-23 to Romulus, Michigan
in the early 1950s.
Ernie Brooks spent the next twenty years working for the Wabash railroad. He was a tremendous college and pro football fan, and I have many memories of the men of the family gathered around the television set on days when we got together. The house in Romulus was always the destination, and the place would be crammed full of grandkids on the holidays.
Edna Brooks was an incredible cook, and she would spend many hours in the kitchen feeding groups of up to 30 people at some of these gatherings. Almost every memory I have of my gradmother features her in an apron and holding a spatula. In spite of what must have been an incredible racket from all the grandkids, I do not recall Edna Brooks ever raising her voice.
My grandmother passed away in 1974 at the age of 56, and my grandfather passed away in 1984 at the age of 69.
I am just starting to do some research on my family history, so if you know anything about the Brooks family who used to live in Appalachia, Virginia, feel free to leave a comment.