Search the Community
Showing results for tags 'smortons'.
Continued from here:
SolomonFundy posted a topic in S'Mortons (Smiths & Mortons) and SandersI decided to start a separate thread for discussion of Martha's book and general Morton/S'Morton happenings to avoid digressions in the Craptain Smith/Alan incest charges thread. Sorry, this got a bit long! Martha's book (apparently composed in 2013) is an odd mixture of charm and slightly forced nostalgia, laced with a litany of disarming, casual references to child endangerment. Each of her brothers gets his own chapter, and each chapter follows a pretty concise pattern of their feats of manliness (as defined by how tolerant they are to pain and their work ethic), their ability to cook, their history of injuries, whom they imagined themselves to be as they played when they were children (this was a question Martha composed and asked to each as part of an informal interview process as she wrote the book), and a loose smattering of pranks and Feats of Daring. True to the title, this booklet is about the guys. Adeline is mentioned a handful of times in various anecdotes, and Katie too, though to a lesser extent. Dorothy was mentioned a single blessed time by name, right at the beginning, and never referenced again. I'm going to offer my thoughts through a very forgiving lens. I've lived in the rural south my entire life, and many of the things she describes that would be considered outlandishly dangerous for a child to do by some standards, are not out of the norm for extremely rural families. That said, I found myself questioning the parenting choices of the elder Mortons constantly. General takeaways: * Daddy and Mama went on a LOT of dates. This was a common recurring theme. When they were gone, the children were left alone, seemingly from the time Martha was old enough to remember. Martha states in one part of the book that her brother Michael's opinion was the deciding factor in anything they did, since he was in charge when their parents were away. Note: Katie is older than Michael. * The kids have had an incredibly informal education. This was long suspected, but Martha describes things like her mom randomly announcing when school would happen at a moment's notice (apparently it wasn't a structured or even daily thing), the middle children were left to educate their littlest siblings until they were 6-7, at which point Mama would take over and add on, and my personal favorite: nonchalant references to several of her teenaged brothers being "geniuses", but lacking the ability to compose even simple thoughts in writing. The boys would graduate from small domestic chores to working at the construction site with their father around the age of 10, which Martha affirms was the "best kind of education", and apparently supplanted whatever homeschooling they received up to that point. Michael jr. is made much of for being "brain smart" because he read more than necessary, and seemed to actually enjoy it. Every kid learns at their own level, and I'm not knocking a less-structured approach to basic education, but it's kind of maddening that these children had a grandparent who was an honest to god DOCTOR, and another who was an educational administrator, and yet it's entirely possible that some of them may be incapable of passing an GED. (Martha mentions in the afterward that she wrote the booklet in several notebooks, and Adeline typed everything for her and did all of the spelling corrections. The book is rife with spelling and grammatical errors.) * There's a persistent thread of near-homelessness. The family lived in homemade tents for quite a long time after moving to their land. Hurricane Andrew hit in 1992, and was the catalyst for the family moving from the improvised tents (tarps and wooden poles, according to Martha) into the unfinished house structure. * Related to the above, the house was unfinished for the better part of a decade. Not just "pardon our construction dust", but legitimately open to the elements in areas. They used an electric blanket as a front door one winter, and the kids would move from the third story to the second when the temperatures increased during the summer, because it was "open to the breeze". It's hard to parse details from the anecdotes since she seemed to feel that writing about the "third story years" should be a book unto itself, but it sounds like the kids lived free-range in the rafters. On one occasion, she and her sisters went with their mother to town, and returned to find their dolls hanging from nooses from the roofing beams, with arrows shot into their bodies. As she recounted this, Martha "couldn't stop laughing". * Apparently, the Mortons were known to be needy by various members of the community. Between the references to things "provided by the Lord" are acts of charity including a neighbor allowing the family to use their phone line for personal calls, free vehicles being donated to the growing family, and a group of local Mennonite women hosting a quilting bee for the sole purpose of gifting several warm quilts to the family. Martha fondly recalls their mother making "little nests" for them on the floor with their quilts during one cold winter. * Numerous casual references to the transience of their family pets. The children were encouraged to trap wild animals and keep them as pets, which would usually run/fly/hop away at first opportunity. Their dogs were so numerous, Martha couldn't name more than a handful. Only one lived with the family long enough to warrant a description of its long life and death. Two different brothers treated the spiders in their rooms as pets. An opossum was killed after attacking their hens, and the kids discovered a baby in its pouch. They kept it as their "darling pet" for a while, until it bit one of them, and they then "evicted" it. This is... not a book to read for people who are sensitive to animal welfare, hunting, shooting, etc. Some of it makes sense in context (killing animals for food that the family obviously desperately needed, shooting predatory animals that threatened the homestead animals), but some is blatantly just shitty animal stewardship. The kids would "drop down" onto the family dairy cow, and try to "kick it and ride it" like a horse. When they finally did get a horse, it was apparently quickly neglected since it arrived and was often ridden when Martha was young, yet it was nearly wild from a lack of interaction when Samuel wanted to ride it just a few years later. Wounded animals were occasionally chased up onto the porch "to the delight" of the younger children, who would admire the animal until it was killed. The brothers apparently hunted deer from their bedroom windows. Snakes were fitted with makeshift nooses, then dangled around to thrill the younger children before being killed and skinned. * Driving. Oh, by the holy name of Rufus, the driving. Martha delights in recounting how several of her brothers are horrific drivers. John has totaled three vehicles ( but it was all "honest mistakes"), and I think he's just barely old enough to drive, which makes it worse. But driving age is no barrier here, because Edwin is among the "best drivers" so far in the family, because he hasn't "dented one of the cars" yet. At the time Martha composed his portion of the text, he was 12 (she specifically states his age). Andrew drives at incredible speeds, and Wesley enjoys cobbling parts of vehicles together and driving them. For added fun, Daddy and Mama join in! The family was gifted a passenger van at some point in the 1990's, and Jeanine was offended by the damaged upholstery on the bench seats. So, she had the seats ripped out, and had all of the children sitting in "tidy little school chairs". The chairs were not secured in any way. Martha recounts how the children and chairs were thrown around in the van every time someone accelerated or braked. The family's ongoing legal woes over children in non-secured car seats, or lack of any restraints becomes even less excusable. * Mor-Town, which has been referenced before, was a sprawling complex of ramshackle forest structures the original hoard of children created in the woods near their home. A gravity-powered sink and series of houses accompanied what sounds like an epic treehouse. (I'll be honest: I would have LOVED to experience something like this as a kid.) Some of it still stands, and the grands play in it. This was the site of the sibling "marriages": Dorothy to Michael, Adeline to Cleveland, and Martha to Wesley. Notably, Katie is not mentioned at all in this part of the book, and was apparently never "married" to a sibling. This fascinates me, since it would have made sense for she and Michael to pair off, and for the other girls to be matched with the other brothers in turn. Either she wasn't present for the games (helping Mama and Daddy cope with a baby every 18 months, and a struggling farm?), or she didn't participate due to personal preference or the choice of her siblings. Any of those would be kind of odd given the family's seclusion and relative inter-dependence. If any of the above are true, Alan's later control over her makes even more sense. * Interestingly, almost all of the sons can cook to some degree, and several can cook extremely well, or have a specialty. This was great, and seemed surprisingly egalitarian. Martha was sure to frame it as a character-building talent that their mother knew would "please their future wives". * Marriages are only barely alluded to, and grandchildren even less. The collection of stories is primarily meant to describe their shared siblinghood before marriages/babies/in-laws, though it is worth mentioning that Martha specifically dedicates the book to her nieces and nephews. This is insanely long, and I hit most of the high points. The only other thing I'll add is a reiteration that Martha originally wrote this in 2013, which may color some of the things she chose to write about. She definitely had to work on it as a married woman; Adeline's help must have come after she and Tayte moved back to Georgia, and Tayte is specifically thanked for his support. However, the main reason I bring the timing up is the fact that she made a point to single out Paul as "the youngest... so far", and that strongly implies that she believed that it was possible that her mother may still bear other children. That surprised me. Jeanine turned 53 in 2013. It's entirely possible that Martha (who was unmarried and still lived with her parents that year) knew that her mother was still fertile 5 years ago. Katie is the only Morton daughter who has exhibited super fecundity, and it seems likely that she's had her last. But it's worth considering that the other Morton girls may possibly be able to bear children into their 50's. Jeanine had at least one miscarriage after Paul. Perhaps she conceived again after that, one or more times, prompting Martha to think of her roster of siblings as open-ended. The book is essentially a short collection of very topical mini-biographies of the Morton sons. If anyone has any specific questions, I'll be glad to answer. However, please note that this post is about the same length as the booklet itself, so if I didn't mention something, it probably wasn't addressed directly by the author.
Destiny posted a topic in S'Mortons (Smiths & Mortons) and SandersLast time on this family, we had a terrible "psalm" and some social media shade.