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Remembering Granny

321. Remembering Granny

Irene Sanders—when I was a little girl I called her Grandma, and I didn’t know a lot about her. When I became a mother myself, then my Mother was Grandma to my children, and at this point we all started calling my Grandma—Granny.

It is of Granny that I write. Her mother and father were married in Vermont in 1885 and left to homestead in Missouri. Irene Joyce Sanders (Granny) was born in 1888.

She received a Teacher’s Certificate in 1907 from the Cherokee Nation Indian Territory. In 1908 she was assigned to Grade 1 in Wagoner City Schools. In 1909 she also married Leslie Lee Sanders, a boy preacher.

She married Leslie Lee Sanders in 1909, and they had nine children. Notice their names, birth dates, and birth places. Her oldest child was my mother, Carolyn Elizabeth born in Ardmore, Oklahoma in 1910. The second child was William Parker Sanders, born in Ashland, Nebraska in 1911. Third child was Mary Adalyne Sanders born in Wagoner, Oklahoma in 1912. Fourth child was Leslie Lee Sanders, Jr., born in 1913 in Spokane, Washington. Her fifth child was B. H. Carroll (Knobby) Sanders who was born in 1917 in Kansas City, Missouri. Her sixth child was Miriam Elisabeth Sanders, born in 1918 in Cadiz, Kentucky. Seventh child was Allen J. Sanders (Tubby), born in 1920 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

It was here that Leslie Lee’s entanglement with the federal prison system began. He was arrested for mail fraud and was in prison very briefly in 1920. Then Irene’s eighth and ninth children were born in Indianapolis; Ferne Joyce in 1922 and Elinor Stewart in 1924.

At some point after Elinor was born, once again Leslie Lee Sanders was arrested and convicted of mail fraud and virtually spent the rest of his life in federal prison.

Granny had Miriam, who she may have met in Kansas City, Missouri, who lived with her and helped with the nine children. Granny’s teaching certificate was not recognized by Indianapolis schools and she found a job as an aide at the Roberts School for Crippled Children. Miriam stayed at home, cared for the children, and did tailoring work for one of the major department stores in Indianapolis.

The last years of her life, Granny lived with her oldest daughter, Carolyn, who was of course my Mother. In Granny’s life there have to be hundreds of stories. One of my regrets is that when I visited I didn’t ask the skillions of questions I now have. But I have enough to put together the picture of a strong woman.

In one of the letters that accompanied her certificate of highschool graduation, the principal wrote: “This is to certify that Miss Irene Parker this year graduates from Wagoner Highschool, having completed the literary course of study in this institution. Her diligence and studious habits have won for her a fine record in deportment and scholarship. Her vigor of mind and strength of character insure her success as a teacher.”

Strength of character—yes, we know about that.

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