Elizabeth, widowed for three years, and struggling to make it alone, somehow found John Sidney and together they decided to raise the children from both marriages. They had six children, total. Jesse William Blanton and my grandmother, Ethel Leigh Blanton, were Lizzie's. Mabel , Sloan, Clay, and Ray Hager were from John's marriage.
Mabel and Ethel were both 13 years old on October 12, 1919, when Lizzie and John Hager wed in Gastonia, North Carolina.
From my grandmother's many stories, those times spent in a blended household were not the best of times.
Apparently John grew to dislike Lizzie's children and Ethel and Jesse were subject to different rules than his own children. I am not wanting to be disrespectful of the man, I only know what my grandmother told me, and apparently she was very miserable living in the Hager house.
Her only refuge from the hurt, was her deep and quickly forming bond with her step-sister, Mabel. They grew to be inseparable and remained close friends until Mabel's death in 1974.
I remember making the trip to see Mabel and her husband Frank Reynolds, many times during my summer's spent with my Grandparents.
Mabel and my grandmother, Ethel, went for a ride on a train, not sure if was just for the thrill of a train ride or if they had a real destination. At every turn, the smoke and debris from the engine would practically engulf the train cars, all open cars. All of the train riders were soon speckled and dotted with the flecks of soot that were blowing back from the engine. By the time they arrived at their destination, Ethel and Mabel were laughing hysterically at each other's sooted up and dotted, comical faces. The new hats that they had bought just for the train ride were completely ruined. They had been so proud of the hats, only to emerge from the train looking totally ridiculous. My grandmother giggled all through the telling of that story, her mind taken back in time, to a time of cherished girlhood.
My grandmother never had a real sister to bond with, but Mabel came along and became that true sister.
God Bless you for that, Mabel.