A Thanksgiving Tribute to Mom

Twas the morning of Thanksgiving and all through the kitchen, Mother scurried about making turkey and dressing.

The aroma of food hung in the air, in hopes that her children soon would be there.

Suddenly, on the porch, there was heard such a clatter, Mother ran to see what was the matter.

There stood the grandchildren stomping snow from their feet, rushing to “Mom, Mom’s ready to eat.

Turkey and dressing, fresh mashed potatoes, green beans and rolls, and rutabagas. Red velvet cake and pumpkin pie for dessert, we’ll all eat so much our bellies will hurt.

Then came the call we’d all been waiting for… come, Otis, Shirley, Dennie and Pat, Gerrie and Karen and the rest of the pact.

We ran to the table to each find a seat, with great anticipation, we were ready to eat.

Mother is gone now, no more turkey she’ll bake, but the memories live on each Thanksgiving I wake.

As sweet as the smell of her fresh pumpkin pie, the picture is as clear as a bell in my eye.

So, here now a tribute to my Mother who passed, but my Thanksgiving memories forever will last.

Karen Evans Talley


November 22, 2001

In the Genes

I grew up believing my ethnicity was Irish. Assuming the red hair, green eyes, and a fiery personality fits the stereotypical idea of someone of Irish decent.

My beliefs were confirmed when I received my DNA results from Ancestry. What I found was the following ethnicity estimate. I am 48% Ireland & UK, 34% Western Europe, (Germany, France, & Switzerland,) 12% Scandinavian, (Sweden, Denmark & Norway.) The trace amounts are 2% Great Britain, 1% Finland & Northwest Russia, 1% Italy & Greece, <1% Iberian Penninsula, and <1% Eastern Europe, (Poland, Ukraine, & Belarus. Wow. That's a lot to process.

Since I have no patience to spend hours poring over my family tree, I rely heavily on my husband. He can sit for hours and patiently scrutinize Evans family roots.


Together, we have discovered six generations of the Evans family going back to the mid-sixteen hundreds. Bill is working on uncovering my six generation great-grandfather from Great Britan. The information has, for now, reached a dead-end. But we will not be deterred. We will pursue the information and discover his identity.

Who Begat Whom

My head is spinning from all the details, but let me see if I can enlighten you on the Evans clan.

These findings are as they relate to me. If you are interested in discovering more, I encourage you to go to Ancestry.com.

  • Morryce (Maurice) Evans (6th great-grandfather) was born in 1650. No other details.
  • Walter Evans (5th great-grandfather) was born 1682 in Great Britain, Wales. He moved to Halifax, Va in 1705 and bought 420 acres of land in King Willaim County, VA for 45 shillings. He married Joyce Patterson.
  • George Henry Evans (4th great-grandfather) was born in Halifax, VA in 1733. He fought in the Civil War for the Confederate Virginia Volunteer Infantry. He married Ann Nightengale.
  • Edward P. Evans (3rd great-grandfather) was born in 1758 in Halifax, VA. He married Elizabeth Howard.
  • Elijah Evans (2nd great-grandfather) was born in 1797 in Knox County, Laurel, Kentucky. He was married to Matilda Moore. 
  • William Lafayette Evans (grandfather) was born in Laurel, Kentucky. He married to Nancy Dalton.
  • Otis Richard Evans (father) was born in 1907 in London, Kentucky. He married Cleda (no middle name) Grills.

You know the rest of the story.

Inquiring Mind Wants to Know

I am absolutely fascinated by relatives I never knew. I would love to have a conversation with each of them. For instance, I would ask Walter about his trip from Europe to the states on the immigration ship. I would want to ask George if he fought at Gettysburg and what he thought about abolition and Abraham Lincoln. I would ask Grandpa William Lafayette what kind of a little boy my father was.

Since that’s not possible, my imagination will have to suffice.


All of these people are branches on our family tree. They extend six generations and connect us all.

Knowing this information makes me even more curious about my roots. But most of all, it makes me proud to be an Evans.

Four O’Clocks


Remembering Dad

The big white house stood on the hill, or so it seemed to a six-year-old. Many memories were made in that house. They weren’t all wonderful, but memorable, none the less.  

One memory that comes to mind every fall is collecting of four o’clock seeds with Dad. 

The tiny flower blooms every afternoon yes, around four o’clock. When the weather turns cold, they go to seed.

Dad and I would walk the length of the house dumping the little black seeds in an envelope. They were tucked in the medicine cabinet until spring.  When the winter freeze was over, and the ground was soft, we would sprinkle them along the house, reseeding the flower garden. 

It was our tradition. 

Keeping the Tradition

The older I get, the more tradition means to me. Maybe because as you age, you need the memories to hold onto.

When you’re young and raising a family, you’re often too busy to think about the past. Memories slip into a compartment in your brain that you label, “save until the summer of my life.” Then something triggers a thought or memory. Voila! The synapse snaps releasing happy hormones in your brain.

You turn around and you’re sixty-eight. Something triggers a thought or memory. Voila! The synapse snaps releasing happy hormones in your brain.

Truthfully, I hadn’t given much thought to these little pink and yellow flowers until we moved to The Talley farm twelve years ago.

Grandma Talley must have been partial to four o’clock’s, as well. Our yard is peppered with the bushes. They have a mind of their own popping up in the most unwanted places.

I feel guilty when Bill mows over them in the fall. I see Dad’s little stubby fingers pinching the flower to pop out the seeds. But the guilt fades fast in the spring when they shoot up out of the ground and fill the yard with color.

Last year, I started saving the seeds. They sit on a shelf in my medicine cabinet. Every time I open the door and see those black pearls, I am a little girl walking alongside my Daddy tending the flower garden. 

I doubt I’ll ever plant them; they grow quite well without my help. But it warms my heart and makes me feel like a child again just to know they are there.

Family Traditions

Family traditions are important. Whether it’s harvesting seeds, decorating your house at Thanksgiving or Christmas, or gathering each week for Sunday dinner, it’s critical to create traditions with your children. Happy ones they will remember for years to come.

Our families are who we count on to encourage, to give wise council, and to love us unconditionally.

Never underestimate the power of family and tradition. Don’t ever take them for granted. Your loved ones won’t be around forever; cherish them while you still have the chance.


My Dad







My Mother

My mother was the wisest person I’ve ever known. Too bad I didn’t realize it until she was gone.

Looking back, I can think of numerous times she advised me to do or not to do something and I ignored her wise counsel.


Mother was special. She had all kinds of quotes, to which I refer to as Cledaisms.”

One of her favorites was, “everybody’s crow’s the blackest. “ Let me interpret what I think she meant. We all think our kids are the smartest, cutest, or most talented. It has to do with people bragging about something. Or, maybe that’s not what she meant at all. But whatever the meaning, it’s etched in my brain, and I’ve caught myself saying it on occasion.

Another favorite of mine is, “you never fly so high, but what you don’t let.” Huh? The grammar police would have a field day with this one. Grammarly is pinging me as I type. But this pertains, I think, to people who are “uppity” or believe they are better than others.

My all time favorite quote is “we were so poor we didn’t have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of.” Mother did have a way with words.  This one is self-explanatory. She lived in Kentucky and times were rough. They were dirt poor. But the move to Ohio gave them opportunities to have a good life outside the “hollers” and they did.


My mother made it clear she didn’t want to be called “grandma” when her grandkids were born. She was “Mom-Mom.”

She was the best “Mom-Mom” a grandchild could have. Maybe that was because she knew her mother had missed the mark with grandparenting.

Her grandkids meant the world to her. Which brings me to another “Cledaism.”  My sisters and I always thought mother showed favoritism toward her son. Of course, being the only boy, I guess that’s understandable.

As her grandchildren were born, her partiality for boys manifested again. She seemed to pay more attention to a certain grandson (who shall remain nameless) than she did our kids. When I brought up my feelings to her, she shocked me with her reply. I expected some profuse apology and pledge to do better. But she said, “I don’t love any one of my grandchildren more than the other, but the child makes the difference.” 

I didn’t fully understand what she meant until I had my grandchildren. When you live close to them (down the block) and are involved in their lives, of course, you’re going to be closer to them. Not because you love the other ones less, but because circumstances beyond anyone’s control prevents the opportunity to build a close bond.

Don’t get me wrong; we were all over the moon when Dennie had his first son. He, after all, would carry on the Evans name. We loved that little guy, and he was spoiled by all, including his aunts. I think we all accepted the fact this baby boy was the heir apparent.

Christmas at Mom-Mom’s

What a time we all had at Christmas. It was the one time of the year that mother splurged big time.

The tree was decorated right after Thanksgiving.  Outside lights were strung on the outside of the house. Dad spent hours testing and replace those big colored bulbs because Mother wanted the decorations up early.

My fondest memory was when Mom and I would take the bus to downtown Cincinnati to shop. The best time was when it was snowing. Downtown was magical. The stores, and decorations, and Salvation bell ringer on the corners, the horse and buggies, the music, and of course, Santa Clause. Those are some sweet memories.

Presents were strewn under the tree. As the family grew, so did the pile of gifts. Mother was sure every person had the same amount spent on them. I can remember times when she would put money in an envelope for one child or grandchildren to make up the difference in the amount she spent on another. It had to be even; no one would be slighted.


A lot could be said about Cleda (no middle name) Evans. She was a strong, independent women. She worked outside the home before it was fashionable for a woman to do so. Remember, I’m talking the early fifties. But she did it to help provide for her family. Mother would work nights so she could be home during the day with her kids. Mom sacrificed much for her husband and children.

She was honest and opinionated. You knew what she meant, and she meant what she said. Integrity could also describe her.

Mother had bouts of depression; life wasn’t always easy for her. But she persevered with determination to get through whatever crisis she faced.


Webster defines this word as ‘a woman who rules or dominates a family, group, or state; specifically:  a mother who is head and ruler of her family and descendants.’ 

That describes Cleda Evans perfectly. She was the glue that held the family together.

The original Otis Evans family has dwindled over the years. But those of us who remain and knew this lady know what an amazing person she was.

I am proud she was my Mother. I miss her every day. When events occur in my life or those of my children, my first thought is I wish Mom were here to witness this.

I know she would be proud of all her children and grandchildren.

My biggest regret is some of you didn’t get to meet her before she went home to be with her Lord.

I know this for sure when I die my Mother will be standing next to Jesus waiting to welcome me home.




A Better Life

The coal mines were dark, dirty, and dangerous. Otis, along with his brother, decided to leave the dust behind and find other work.


Going Home


Heading North to Opportunity

This interstate didn’t look at all like this when Otis and Cleda Evans set out from Kentucky and headed north.

The coal mines were dark, dirty, and dangerous. Otis, along with his brother, decided to leave the dust behind and find other work. Options were limited, but Otis heard of work in Ohio. He and Cleda packed up the kids, their meager belongings, and left their Kentucky home behind. They headed north for better opportunities in a new state.

Settling Down

I’m sure it was a long and arduous trip with their four children, Shirley, Dennie, Pat, and Gerri. But sometime between 1943 after the birth of Gerri, and before the birth of their fifth and final child, Karen in 1947, the family made their way across the Ohio River. They put down stakes in a little town north of Cincinnati, Norwood, Ohio.

Otis found work at the General Motors plant; he worked as a painter on the assembly line. The work was hard but steady, and safe.

The first home I remember as a child is a small apartment on Hunter Avenue.  As I recall, there was one bedroom. The dining room was converted to a second bedroom for the children.  We lived in that cramped apartment until 1953 when we moved to Tilden Avenue in West Norwood.

That’s the home of our childhood. Compared to the apartment on Hunter it was a mansion. The living quarters and mom and dad’s bedroom were on the first floor with three bedrooms on the second. The best part was the huge yard with a large three car garage. We had arrived.

Seeing is Believing

It’s funny how your memory as a child is exaggerated. In my mind’s eye that white house was sitting on a hill and it was huge.  On trips home as an adult, I realized the house on Tilden was only slightly elevated and not quite the mansion I remember. But to me, as the song goes, it’s the house that built me.

Otis and Cleda Evans were humble people, from the hollers of Harlan, Kentucky.

With a limited formal education and funds, they built a better life. Times were tough, but with determination, dedication to their family, and defying the odds, they discovered their American dream.