Rosa-Maye & Manville Kendrick (AHC Kendrick Collection, TESHS)
Rosa-Maye Kendrick with grandmother Ida Wulfjen (Hoff Collection, TESHS)
A Whole-House Exhibit at the Trail End State Historic Site
March 2008 - December 2008
UNTIL THE MIDDLE years of the 20th Century, most households included a grandparent or two. Not only did adult children feel obligated to care for their parents (as their parents had cared for them), their elders were often viewed as fonts of parental wisdom. As The New York Times noted in 1886,
There is nobody like a comparatively young and lively grandsire or grandmother to fill in the family chinks. … Childhood is infinitely more tender in [their] sight than it is to father or mother, and what are deliberate wanderings out of the way in their eyes are but involuntary slips of the untried feet to grandmother. … Ah , how much grandmother knows!
At times, Trail End was a multi-generational household: Eula's parents stayed at the mansion for weeks at a time and Manville and Diana Kendrick's children grew up in the home. In order to make all generations feel comfortable, certain accommodations had to be made, said psychologist Margaret Fleming:
A typical family might consist of parents, one grandparent, an adolescent boy or girl, and one or more young children. What can be done to make each member of this group feel at home under his own roof? ... The wants of the grandparents are usually few. A simple but a quiet and a cheerful room - this is usually their chief concern.
GRAND PARENTAL WISDOM
Grandparents had experience raising children and sometimes related to their grandchildren better than the parents themselves – as John Kendrick noted in 1901, when Rosa-Maye stayed with her grandparents, Charles and Ida Wulfjen:
Rosa-Maye is growing more tractable and easily managed all the time. The truth of the matter is that her grandparents can just beat the sox off her parents in managing her. … Your father says they have quite decided to take either Rosa-Maye or Manville for good when we return home!
Following Rosa-Maye’s birth, Ida wrote to Eula and John about her husband’s reaction – and her own – at being unable to be with their daughter and granddaughter:
Your father was so happy – and did not mind being called an old grandfather at all. He said he would have to get a cane as soon as he could … Son, I shall watch very eagerly for your letters to learn how daughter is getting along. No one but a mother can ever know what a sacrifice it is to stay away from a daughter at such a time.
Manville and Rosa-Maye Kendrick never knew their paternal grandparents. John Kendrick's father, John Harvey Kendrick, had drowned in 1860 and his mother, Anna Maye, died in 1863. In 1917, while on a sea voyage to France, John Kendrick told his son a little about young Anna:
On the way over I have been reminded many times by the surrounding circumstances of my Irish mother's trip across this old, old ocean in a sail ship a little more than 60 years ago when she was about the age your sister is now. She had a sister with her and they were going among strangers in quest of home and fortune. Don't you think she was a brave girl that grandmother of yours and are you not glad she had the courage to go out to America? I surely am.
As far back as 1900, John Kendrick knew the value of grandparents and what made them so special. He wrote, "It is my opinion that the better one understands and appreciates children the more patient and thoughtful they are of them. It is no doubt this principle that makes grandparents so much more indulgent than they were with their own."
John and Eula Kendrick’s four grandchildren were born between 1931 and 1934. While John did not live long enough to meet the youngest, Hugh and Kendrick, the two oldest, Eula and John, quickly enraptured him. Shortly after young John’s birth, the elder Kendrick wrote to Manville, "I feel reasonably certain at this time that he is to be a boy after my own heart just as little Eula is a girl after the hearts of both her grandmother and grandfather."
Because his son had made the decision to stay out of politics and public life, John Kendrick hoped that his grandson might take up the mantle of public service. He stated his case in a 1932 letter to Manville:
Here I am reminded to say that your reference to the sober attitude of John does not disturb me in the least. On the contrary, I am pleased that he is a sober minded boy. It is quite all right for girls to be laughing and giggling at every little thing, but boys have more serious things to think about. If this boy grows to maturity of body and mind it is easy for his Grandfather to conceive that perhaps his State, and maybe his Nation, will make demands of service upon him. In any event it is just as well for him to begin by taking life seriously, because it certainly will be a serious situation for him if he is ever called for public service.
State Historic Site