Great Grandma Lindsey’s Spaghetti

I wish I had gotten to know more of my Great Grandparents. I would love to be able to sit down with them now and listen to their stories. I would love to be in their presence and experience what they are like.

Great Grandma Betty Lindsey with Great Grandpa William McKinley Lindsey and son Tom

I’ve always felt an attachment to the Grandparents I know. At a young age, I remember travelling with my Grandpa to Pennsylvania. While we drove, he told me the story of Robinson Crusoe, and I loved every moment of it.

I also had opportunities to get to know some of my Grandparents that I squandered. Several lived for a long time, and I never made a move to get to know them better. I regret that.

My Paternal Grandmother, Betty Lindsey Babb, died before I was born. Her Father, William, My Great Grandfather, died a year later. My Great Grandma Betty Lindsey had died three years earlier in 1972.

In 2017, I began to look into my family history in earnest. This led me to seek out the descendants of William and Betty. The last of their 9 children died just as I began to do this research.

When I contacted the wife of William and Betty’s son George, I learned a lot. What she mentioned to me was that she always enjoyed being at William and Betty’s family. She remembered very clearly the smell of garlic because Betty was always making spaghetti.

I asked my own Father, who had lived with William and Betty for a time, if he remembered the spaghetti. “Oh yeah.” He said. “That’s probably one reason I don’t like spaghetti today. We ate it all the time!”

As I asked around, people always mentioned Great Grandma’s spaghetti. It was the most prominent and constant theme.

Over Christmas, I was finally able to sit down with a group of the descendants of Tom Lindsey, William and Betty’s oldest (the baby in the picture above). We talked about memories of the past, and, inevitably, Great Grandma Lindsey’s spaghetti came up. One of Tom’s daughters told me, “I have the recipe, if you want it.”

“Absolutely!” I replied. Then, I listened carefully as she told me the details.

“You start by frying up some bacon.” She began. “Then, you leave the bacon grease in the frying pan and take out the bacon for later.”

A good start! I thought.

“Chop up onion and garlic and sautée them in the pan. Once you’ve done that, you add tomato juice. After mixing the tomato juice, you crumple up the bacon and put it back into the sauce. Then, there’s one more thing. They always had fried chicken with the spaghetti.” She said.

Fridays are my day to cook. On a Friday in January, I decided I would make Great Grandma Lindsey’s spaghetti. Step by step, I followed the directions. The only way I modified the spaghetti was to add a little bit of tomato paste. I needed less than I thought because the sauce was thicker than I thought. I warmed up the fried chicken to go with it.

And it was good! I love spaghetti. This was different than any spaghetti that I had eaten, but it was still good. My daughter described it this way: “I like it, but it’s more Southern than Italian.”

As I prepared the spaghetti and served it to my family, I could imagine sitting at Great Grandma Lindsey’s table with a plate of spaghetti and fried chicken and the house filled with the aroma of garlic. Somehow, I felt closer to her than I had before.

Great Grandma Lindsey with two of her sons


4 Replies to “Great Grandma Lindsey’s Spaghetti”

  1. Loved reading your story and remembering eating her spaghetti at her kitchen table. I enjoyed seeing the picture of Uncle Pete, Great Grandma and Uncle George too! (I think that’s Uncle George on the right anyways 😉)

  2. This is Jill Taylor, Tom Lindsey Jr.’s daughter. I absolutely enjoyed this article. I have this recipe too, and it’s how I fix it. I remember my grandfather, Tom Sr. The baby in the above picture, sending me to buy fried chicken at the market down the street whenever grandma would fix this recipe of spaghetti as well. I thought it was just him, but I have learned from this article, it went back farther than that. Thank you for the info, pictures, and memories. Hopefully next time you all are in I can make it in to meet you all.

  3. Thanks, Jill, for commenting! I look forward to meeting you in person!

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