Today is the 97th wedding anniversary of my great-grandparents, John William Garrett Clary and Mary Belle Jones Clary.
I was fortunate to know both Grandma Belle and Grandpa Garrett. Grandma Belle died when I was four but 49 years have not diminished a good many memories I still have of her. Grandpa Garrett died when I was in my thirties just short of his touching three centuries.
Grandma Belle was wonderfully tender and loving and was the daughter and granddaughter of terribly witty and practical joke playing individuals. A farm girl her entire life, Grandma Belle was a talented pianist and great cook.
Grandpa Garrett was not the typical “older great-grandparent.” From the stories with which I’ve grown up, hearing from Mother, he wasn’t even the typical grandfather. Grandpa Garrett, for being in his late 60s-100th year during my life, was always involved in the lives of his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Grandpa Garrett was a farmer his entire life, and was quite the conversationalist and often the recipient of hilarious practical jokes planned and executed by his two daughters, who became more commonly known as “those damn girls.”
Now, it is difficult for me to write, “Grandpa Garrett” or “Grandma Belle.” That’s what the other grandchildren called them. I blessed them with uniquely loveable titles, Grandma Coo Coo and Grandpa Coo Coo. I was even admonished by a high school classmate who did not know the full story, thinking me disrespectful.
In their farmhouse, a two-story structure that had been in the family since the 1840s, they had a cuckoo clock on their wall. To entertain me they would wind the hands for the little bird to make its noisy entrance. As my language developed, naming the other grandparents, Grandpa Leroy, Grandma Donna, etc., Garrett and Belle became Grandpa Coo Coo and Grandma Coo Coo. No other grandchildren or great-grandchildren were permitted by Grandpa Coo Coo to use that endearing title except me.
I so adored these two beautiful individuals and as I grew older I discovered I was not alone; the entire community adored them, and for those who still remember Belle and Garrett, it is with deep, deep devotion.
Happy Anniversary, Grandma Coo & Grandpa Coo!
John William Garrett Clary, born 31 August 1898, Elwood, Madison County, Indiana; died October 1997. Son of John William Clary and Mary Frances Noble of Elwood, Indiana.
Mary Belle Jones Clary, born 20 December 1897, Boone Township, Madison County, Indiana; died 28 January 1969. Daughter of Andrew Taylor Greenlee and Anna Ball.
Garrett and Belle had three children: Ronald Monroe Clary, 1921-1936; Donna Mae Clary Barmes (my grandmother), 1924-1992; Joyce Ann Clary Riser, 1933.