Grace TeSelle, niece
with [Comments] by
Larry Pearce, great-nephew
Kevin Miller, great-nephew
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When I became aware of my aunt and uncle, Russell (1886-1957), as he was known, was a Presbyterian minister and they lived in Derry, Pennsylvania, east of Pittsburgh. Mayme (1888-1982), who went by her middle name, was a mother, housewife, and I am sure the typical preacher’s wife, busy with church affairs. [For more of my family context see “Preachers Among the Pearces.”] Their oldest daughter was Velma, who was married to Homer Truver. [See “The Hill Family Tree Generation V” for the ongoing construction of more of our family.] I seem to recall that, when a Hill family photo [below] was taken in 1931, she had eloped while still very young, and her parents were not very happy about that. Also pictured in that photo were the Truver’s two sons, Raymond “Ray” and Theodore “Teddy.” Later they had two girls, Janet and Ruth. When I was older, I sometimes stayed with the girls when their parents had to be elsewhere. The other children of Russell and Mayme were Eleanor and Lester. Eleanor was married and later divorced. Lester married Gervaise “Gerry” Theil after I was away at school, teaching at Chicora High School, or had moved to Washington, DC to work at the Department of State. While I am not sure of Eleanor’s career, Lester followed his father and became a minister and earned a Doctorate of Divinity at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in 1943. After serving three pastorates, he was elected Hospital Chaplain of three city institutions in 1964. He later served as interim pastor for 11 churches.
When Uncle’s Russell’s Crummy family would visit Mayme’s parents, Alice and Joseph Hill, at their northern Allegheny County farm, we got to see them part of the time too, as we lived so close to my grandparents. Uncle Russell was very formal, I think not too interested in what was happening on the farm. As I recall, Lester was allergic to ragweed and sometimes was miserable to visit the farm in summertime. Mayme always seemed kind of nervous as if she did not seem confident in her place in life. I expect that Russell was the mover/shaker in that family. I do not know how old Aunt Mayme was when she married. I vaguely remember being at their house once. I do not ever remember being in his church or hearing him preach a sermon. [For some World War II context, see “A Letter from Wintry West View,” where Alice was living, to Mayme’s sister Myra in 1945.]
After we moved to Florida, our local library offered a class on how to write one’s biography. It was taught by Helen Ross, a retired professor from the University of Florida. She taught us how to begin recording our memories by completing specific assignments. The first assignment was to record our earliest memory. I wrote about what I thought was the first – the death of Daddy’s sister, my Aunt Hazel in January 1932, when she gave birth to twins. [Grace’s father was Harry Hill (1891-1945).] But, as I later examined the 1931 photo of the Joseph Hill family and remembered being there that day, I knew then that day of celebrating Alice and Joseph’s 45th wedding anniversary was my earliest memory (born in 1928, I was 3-years old) because Aunt Hazel was in the photo.
The second assignment was to use the technique of poetry or limericks to write about difficult situations or people. I chose a limerick to tell about Uncle Russell and explained why I was moved to write it. It is included below. What prompted it were several incidents that happened during World War II, when we had shortages of many items, including automobiles. No new cars were being made because the factories were working on war equipment, and second-hand cars were much in demand. It seemed Uncle Russell, who probably had some extra cash, bought used cars and then was able to sell them at a nice profit. This did not go over well with our family, as he could not resist a bit of bragging about his good fortune:
There once was a preacher named Russell
Who had lots of hustle and bustle
He would buy the cars cheap
Sell high — no loss of his sleep
Then brag ‘til he thought we were docile.
[This ends Grace’s memories of her Aunt Mayme and Uncle Russell Crummy, for now. Please check back to see if she wishes to share more, Meanwhile, you may read other of Grace’s memories captured in compositions as follows:
“Cousins’ Corner: Grace (Hill) TeSelle” (a Christmas letter & autobiography)
“The Story of Bessie (Hill) & Wesley Pearce” (my grandparents)
Last revised 4/5/21