June 03, 2021

Jeff and Me in Front of Nanny Risby’s House

Jeff and me, 1974 or so, wearing matching outfits, in front of my great-grandmother's house in Tucker, in the same neighborhood as my grandmother's house (which shows up in several of my TBT musings).

We called my great-grandmother "Nanny Risby," which strikes me now as a funny thing to call someone, but at the time I accepted it as just what we called her, her title. I realized eventually that Risby was her name--Risby Taylor--but I'm not sure why she was specifically "Nanny" Risby. Nanny Risby was my grandmother's mother. My grandfather died in 1978, but Nanny Risby lived until 1979, when I was twelve. It occurs to me now that it was strange that my grandmother lost her husband but her mother was still living.

Nanny Risby is not in this picture, of course, just Jeff and me--and the house. I remember going to that house often when I was young. It was very small by today’s standards, and though I went there many times in the 1970's I'm not sure if I ever saw the bedrooms. I don’t remember the bathroom, either. Here's what I do remember: Nanny Risby always had Nutter Butters on hand, and there was a big cement water fountain out back that she would turn on for us kids. My cousin Sharon told me once (when we were well into our adulthoods) that Nanny Risby was "a mean old woman," and she probably was, but mostly I remember that her mind was going and she forgot things and had stubbornly set but (so I thought) wrong ideas--such as believing that her television could only pick up one station. (I'm pretty sure I could tune it to any of the three that were available then, though I don't remember ever watching TV at her house, except one time we were then when it was time for her "story.") Back then we would have said that she was getting "senile"; maybe she had what we now call Alzheimer's disease, I don’t know; in the seventies I don't think that was something many people had heard of.

The other thing I remember is that Nanny Risby had a boarder, Blanche, who I assumed was somehow related to us. It was only fairly recently that my mother told me that Blanche was just someone who rented a room from Nanny Risby, and wasn't related to us at all.