Follman Family Stories

Dear MJ,

I’m putting these stories of the women in our family here so their lives won’t be forgotten. The times they displayed courage, strength and tenacity should be remembered. Our Girls should know they come from a long long line of fierce loving strong women. I think these stories say that. I think by honoring their lives by putting them in print is important so the girls realize they can conquer this life just as their Honored Grandmothers did. It’s important for them to realize that they are neither the 1st or the only one that’s ever tackled the problems of men and children and survival, because sometimes it can seem as though you are the only one in the family struggling. It’s important to realize that is just the way it seems, and all you can control is your reaction to it, be it an unplanned pregnancy, unemployment, death divorce or any other real life event that Women must push through. It is our lot, but sometimes that lot is easier when we realize that within our own families these  Ghosties and Goulies have raised their ugly heads generations before and been stared down by some pretty amazing women. So here goes, just like that letter about the box of Medals that your Grandmother Follman kept, I don’t want these things and feelings ever lost. So here is a series of stories about your Grandmother Goldie Belle and Grandmother Helen Follman. Told to me by your Mother Peg Follman, the purpose of this is to show these wonderful women to their Grandchildren (our kids) that they didn’t let the world or any man get the best of them. They were Titans and did the very best with what they had and in the process made more than a few lives much better, and lived lives that were examples of strength and courage to us ALL. The everyday kind of courage that gets the kids out of bed to school and gets off to work without the whining. Just does it, cares for in-law’s and orphans and feeds every soul that ever comes near them. These are REAL HEROES. Not a kevlar vest in the crowd, they didn’t need it… as the point was to put your heart and soul out there and take care of the people. They would wage a WAR on lonliness and hunger and despair over life. And they won. They laughed, they loved and they survived …and their children did too, knowing they were very loved.      

First lets start with

“Goldie Belle and the Girlfriend” 

 It seems that your Grandfather had been drinking down at the local pub and had the bad taste to take up with some fellow drinker and then stayed one night at her house during the Depression. While Goldie Belle wasn’t thrilled with this shameful behavior it didn’t stop her from straightening out the bare bones part of it that ticked her off. They were very married, she and Harry and they had had three girls living and one son that passed away as an infant between them and even her Mother in Law lived in the back room. She wasn’t about to go quietly let alone lose their sole financial support to Harry’s whim for a “good time”.  So Goldie picked up a shotgun and went over to the girlfriends house and knocked on the door.

When the door opened, Goldie Belle pointed the shotgun at the woman and said, “Send Harry Home.” End of story. That Woman did and Harry never strayed again. He was told he would do his drinking at home from there on out. And he did. And all during this time Goldie Belle had living with her Harry’s mother, Margaret Jump…her Mother in Law who also liked to toss back a few herself and would on rare occasion really get Goldie going by disappearing onto “dates” when she was in her late 60’s and 70’s. Then occasionally would invite one of her suitors back to Goldie’s after a few drinks…she just loved to yank Goldie’s chain. But Goldie had other things on her plate also. And that leads us to;

“Goldie Belle and the Godchildren”

 While trying to raise her 3 girls in a tiny river town in Eastern Ohio, she had a very dear friend who happened to be Jewish. And when the dear friend died, she stepped right in to take care of her son and daughter and followed the dictates of kosher dietary law for them as she could while helping their  Father be able to continue in his work (as a butcher) and support, those little kids ( Leo and Sophie) who came and stayed with Goldie for awhile. Without a second thought because she loved them and their Mother.

“Goldie Belle and the Soup”

All during the Depression and for sometime after, as long as Goldie Belle had her own house there was always a pot of Soup simmering on the back of the stove. So no matter how early or late she always had food for anyone who came to her door. And from what Peg told me more that a few showed up there and were kept going on this one woman’s generosity and soup. While Peg made no bones about Goldie Belle being a pretty tough Mom, she tolerating no nonsense and it seems she was not about to let anybody fail without trying to help. God love her. Kind of a tough lady, but one who made sure her girls would be ok.

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