Virlie Gertrue Mason
Born: August 18, 1887 at Vale, Tennessee
13, 1904 to Walter Bartlett Petty
Died: November 29, 1955 at Hartshorne, Oklahoma
Buried at Greenhill Cemetery,
Granny was a sweet, gentle woman. I remember begging Mama to let Granny comb my long hair because she wouldn't
hurt me. On the other hand, Granny had just a touch of the famous "red- headed" temper. I never saw her lose her temper completely
but I often saw her wave both hands in the air as an expression of vexation. She was opinionated, too. One subject on which
she forcefully expressed herself was the naming of children. The first time she heard of a little girl named "Melody," she
said, "Really! I'd just as soon name a child 'Tune'." She was violently opposed to girls being given what were traditionally
boys' names. Her prejudice against "Billies" and "Bobbies" was so pronounced that she considered women with those names to
be of low character. Once I heard her say, of a new acquaintance whose first name she had just learned, "I knowed she was
a 'Billie' the first time I seen her." Another of her strong opinions was that all politicians were crooked. She was angry
when my aunt's husband considered running for mayor of the small town where he then lived.
Granny grew up in the backwoods
of Tennessee and it showed in her speech. Because she had a large, benign tumor she couldn't comfortably hold a small child
on her lap, so she would say, "I cain't nuss that baby." The word "nuss" was her pronunciation of "nurse" and what she meant
was that she could not hold and cuddle the child.
She was a very small person, less than five feet tall. She had beautiful
red hair that she always wore in a "Granny knot" at the back of her head. From my very first memory of her, she always looked
much older than she was. In addition to the abdominal tumor, she also had several skin cancers. One little finger was amputated
because of a cancer. She never left home except when she had to go to the doctor. Most of the time she sat in a large rocker
and fanned herself with a straw or cardboard fan.
My memories are of a woman old before her time but my mother told
me that Granny was very different in her youth. She was an active member of the Baptist church, played the guitar, and sewed
dresses for the girls without using a pattern. But there was one problem with those dresses she made. Because of her belief
that redheads must never wear pink, she always made my mother's dress blue and her blonde "sister-cousin" got a pink one.
Mama disliked the color blue and thought she would have looked better in pink and Dorothy, with her blonde hair and pinkish
complexion, would have looked better in blue.