Juliette Gordon Low’s father, William Washington Gordon II, was generally a man of few words. He seldom praised. In his letters to his daughter, he was more voluble and could spin out funny stories. In person, however, he seems to have been a quiet, still, commanding presence.
Completely opposite was Juliette’s mercurial mother, Nellie Kinzie Gordon. Quick to anger and sharp-tongued, Nellie was capable of turning around rapidly and replacing the criticism with exuberant protestations of love. She was known for her quick wit. Nellie never lacked opinions, and delivered them (often accompanied by swearing) non-stop to anyone who would listen.
She could also take a joke. One afternoon, Nellie, her daughter Mabel, and Mabel’s eight-year-old son Rowley were at the Gordons’ home in Savannah
. Nellie wrote up the vignette for Juliette:
“We were all on the piazza the other day reading the papers. Mabel said, ‘I don’t know how it is, but Mama is always telling something she has read in the papers–and Papa never seems to tell us anything.’
‘Because,’ explained young Rowley, ‘Grandpa takes it all in–and Granny lets it all out!'”
|Juliette Low’s nephew, Rowley Leigh
Nellie Kinzie Gordon to Juliette Gordon Low, 6 March 1911, Gordon Family Papers, MS318/42/22, Georgia Historical Society, Savannah, Georgia.
Photograph of Rowland Leigh used through the kind permission of the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace, Girl Scout National Center, Savannah, Georgia.