From Aunt Nellie (part 10)

[My maternal grandmother, Sibyl Mary Croly, was born in Cadillac, Michigan on February 29, 1888, to James Croly and Maria (Cowles) (Dennett) Croly.  In 1889, her father started a journal about her, entitled "The Record of Little Sibyl." This is an exact transcription of the contents.]

Mother and I [Nellie Cowles, Sibyl’s Mother’s sister] were spending the winter in Cadillac and were there when Sibyl came to us – I say us for she was a great blessing to us all. Mother who was sick, was very fond of her; but baby was too heavy for her to hold and she got it into her mind that the baby did not like to be held by her.

I taught school that summer and it seemed as if before the summer was over, the baby knew me when I came home every week.

Mother and I went to Wis. in July and did not see Sibyl again until the next summer, when her mother went to see Mother and stay as long as she lived.

Sibyl had not begun to talk except to say “sut up” (for shut up) (a “naughty word that her brother taught her”) that she said on every occasion and was often asked what her “naughty word” was.

She called grandma, “baby” because she lay on the lounge all the time. After Mother [May, 1890] died it was thought best that the baby should be weaned before she went home – so I took her up stairs to bed with me and Oh! my – what a night or at least part of one, for when it was the regular time for her to be fed she would not be put off. I sung – walked the floor – and did everything I could to quiet her expecting her mother would come and take her and her mother thought I would bring her down, but we all showed “grit” and Baby was obliged from fatigue to give up. The next night was not so bad and the trouble was soon over.

I came to Cadillac the last of March 1890 and it seemed as if Sibyl remembered me.

During the summer I took a good deal of care of her and though she seemed to be very fond of me, she would do to me what she would not think of doing to any one else as slapping, etc. She got in quite a way of saying “No, I don’t love ju, Aunat Nellie.”

At first I made quite an ado about it and it was more fun for her, but she got to saying it with so much spirit and apparent truth that I did not notice her and she soon stopped it. When she was just getting to walk well alone, I used often to take her on Sunday p.m. to walk on the “sidewalk” which was a great pleasure to her.

One time we went to the river which ran near, and she crawled under the fence to pick flowers, which was such a pleasure to her that it was with difficulty that I got her out without climbing the fence after her.

In the fall, I went into the country to teach, and she would be very much delighted when I came home Friday night and would keep very close to me all day Saturday, often asking me to tell her a story, sometimes specifying what it should be – usually something about the children at school. I think she has a remarkable use of language — seldom using the wrong word to express her meaning. Mary was learning the poem “Barbara Fritchie” to recite at an entertainment and Sibyl learned nearly all of it – gestures and all. She says snatches of it, but they never press her to say more than she likes to.

The entire contents of “The Record of Little Sibyl” can be seen in these posts:

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