Mary Lee (English) Walker also known as “Little Grandmother” was Maggie’s maternal grandmother. She was one of four children and born on July 15, 1878. Little Grandmother lived in a three-story Victorian house in Texas. This house had three carriage houses in the back, “full of stuff.” And there was huge tree outside. Little Grandmother had a feather bed that she would fluff every morning. One time when Maggie was about seven years old, she spent the night there.

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Caption: Maggie (age 8) with her mother, Audrey (Walker) Tyson and her Little Grandmother

Maggie remembers, “We got up one morning to go to the market across the street and next thing they knew the huge tree was down. A tornado had come through the night before.” This would have been about 1942. According to the 1940 U.S. census, Little Grandmother was living with her daughter, Myra, 37 and two grandsons, Earl, 16, and Beau 12, at 5114-1/2 Tremont, Dallas, Texas. Perhaps this was likely the house Maggie spoke of.

Maggie said, “Little Grandmother made chocolate pies and pot roast to die for, and something called end-of-meal soup. This soup was made using leftovers. Sometimes it was wonderful. Other times it would make you gag looking at it on the plate. You didn’t mess with Little Grandmother, though.”

One day Little Grandmother put her slippers in the oven to dry off and they started burning. Maggie said, “Um—Little Grandmother—your slippers are on fire.”

Another time she cooked rabbit to save money and tried to pass it off as chicken. Maggie said she knew it was rabbit because they counted four drumsticks. Little Grandmother lived to be 84 years old and died on April 25, 1963. She is buried at Oakwood Cemetery in Waco, TX.

Contributor: Lauren Tyson based on a conversation with Maggie Tyson

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