• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Anne Miller
  • Nicole Alderman
  • r ranson
  • Pearl Sutton
  • Mike Haasl
  • paul wheaton
stewards:
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • Dave Burton
  • Joseph Lofthouse
master gardeners:
  • jordan barton
  • Greg Martin
gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • Ash Jackson
  • Kate Downham

Tell us about your grandparents

 
Posts: 197
10
  • Likes 9
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Meaningless drivel , no. I'd like to talk about what we learned from our grandparents. A post earlier made me think of a wonderful woman who went by the name Gramma. It had been awhile since I thought of her ( sadly). I was never a " mommies boy" or a "daddies boy". I WAS... " Grammas Boy" lol
She grew up on a farm, in a small town in PA called Nanticoke. Dirt poor, quit school in the middle of seventh grade. Got married at 17 to get away from the proverbial evil step mother. I lived with her for a year when I was 16 and got to know her. When she sat down in front of you with her cup of instant coffee, a jar of peanut butter and a banana ( her breakfeast of choice), she could keep you riveted with her tales of growing up on the " farm" and scratching out a life.Sometimes one of my friends would stop over to see if I was home. Many times, I'd walk in to find out that they stopped over hours ago and just sat at the kitchen table.....listening. " your Grandmother is cool as hell" they would tell me. Between her ability to tell a story, her tendency to use profanity while doing so, Her tough street smart demeanor...and no one was ever not offered a sandwhich and a cup of coffee.  Made them comfortable to sit with an old woman and just ......listen

If someone's interested, I'd be ok with a " tell me about you grandparents thread.       Larry
Probably a lot of useful knowledge could come from it?

 
pollinator
Posts: 4328
Location: Anjou ,France
243
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Shall I get the ball rolling ?
My grand mother could and did all sorts of stuff that I wish I knew how to do . From knitting , how to cook a pigs head and wash your hair in the rainwater barrel. I was just too young to learn this stuff . Her house was a place of wonder with cool toys ( wooden bricks and wooden cotton bobbins you could build castles out of ) fortune telling , cooking toast on an electric fire , stone hot water bottles ,a coal fire in most rooms , even a poss stick she never had a fridge just a pantry and if I was a good boy I got to turn the handle on the mangle:-)
Happy days

David
 
pollinator
Posts: 1348
Location: Denmark 57N
383
fungi foraging trees cooking food preservation
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
How about someone totally different, my gran died a couple of months ago at the age of 91. She was born and raised in France before the war, then moved to a remote farm in wales during the war, she hated it everything that could be wrong she considered wrong. Taking ducks to the butcher was traumatising apparently. Now her sister has a totally different memory of this time, she loved it. Gran then went to university and got a degree she also met her future husband there, after uni they married moved to Norway (he's Norwegian) and she spent her life before his retirement living in a flat in Oslo. After retirement she (and he) moved back to the UK to live in their holiday home in Hampshire, which is where I grew up. This is the woman who lived in a house in a tiny village and then would complain about the birds waking her up in the morning, there was not one iota of county woman in her she was a townie born and bred. He enjoyed fishing from his boat on the Oslo fjord, and mushrooming.
As to cooking, well her cooking was more interesting than my mothers, my mother cooks only British meat potatos and two veg, with very occasional chilli, gran cooked from all over the world, she told a story where they had a dinner party in Oslo and she was very proud at having found celery, apparently it wasn't known in Norway at the time. But then no one would eat it so her and husband sat there and crunched through the entire plate by themselves. I think she went her entire life wishing she still lived in Paris.
To give you an idea why she was like this, my great gran would tell her, (and me later) Girls do not run, girls do not laugh girls do not shout. Everything should be just so or you inconvenience the servants.
 
pollinator
Posts: 845
Location: Southern Oregon
228
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Neither of my grandmothers were very traditional. One was born and raised in Brooklyn, worked outside the home in Manhattan, and wasn't much of a cook. The other, was a nurse, and then taught nursing in Southern California, and was a horrible cook. But both had mastered handling men, never fighting, but still getting what they wanted.
 
gardener
Posts: 967
Location: Ohio, USA
187
dog forest garden fish fungi trees urban food preservation solar woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My grandparents weren't really traditional either. One set, in their youth, worked on a farm being self-sufficient. The other grandmother grew up visiting her uncle's farm. Her parents tried to farm, but thanks to the depression and PTSD, they failed and ended up in the city. Both sets enjoy/ed the modern consumerism.

My parents could do more on the self-sufficiency spectrum than average from the US, but also live a "modern" life style.  

I was and am always the odd one. Kind of made it a challenge growing up, but also taught me a lot of tolerance and self-pride.
 
pollinator
Posts: 280
Location: near Athens, GA
29
  • Likes 8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This is a topic that has great meaning for me.  Well, it would only be appropriate for me to talk about my "granny", my great grandmother.  God, I loved that woman.  She died at age 94, and only because my great grandfather died at 96... they  couldn't live without each other.  She was a "spitfire".  She was volatile. He father was a post Civil War gun fighter and gambler... known as "Devil Jim"... a violent half Indian outlaw.  Her mother was a child bride and was badly abused.  She was half crazy.  She liked tricking the grandchildren into eating hot peppers and seeing dogs fight.  She wore flour sack dresses.  She cooked amazing meals.  She had soft hands but a will of iron.  Now, we would say she was manic depressive  The family always said she would "take to the swamp" when she got low. She would just go live in the woods for a while and not talk to anyone.  She knew what plants to pick and how to fish and trap.  She was a hell of a woman, and the best friend a boy could have.

My dad left when I was 5.... after a lot of abuse.  My mother was a hippie.  One day, granny asked me if I had been in any fights at school.  My mother proudly answered that she had taught me to "turn the other cheek".  Granny grabbed me by the shoulders, got right in my face and yelled, "You forget all that mess right now!  If someone tries to hurt you or your family, you jump on them and beat them until they don't get up!  You be a man and act like you ARE somebody!"  Later on, I remember my mother saying, "I wish I had listened to granny when I was a girl... she was right about a lot of things."

Big live oaks, a swept yard.... chickens scratching and pecking... old dogs sleeping in the shade... depression glass in the window... the smell of biscuits and fatback... clear blue eyes, sliver hair long and curled... the softest hands I've ever known and a will of iron... tea roses and gardenias... my great grandmother taught me to be a man... my great grandfather taught me love, patience and the quiet strength of a saint.  She would yell, "Fred..."  He would fake deafness and wink at me.  She was a hurricane and he was the calm eye.  He did Permaculture long before the term was coined.  I only wish I could show y'all the family farm.... gardens and swamps running together... hogs, cows and chickens... guineas and geese as guards.  We had smoke houses, root cellars, herbal medicine.. all that was bought at the store was sugar, flour, salt and oil.  Everyone who worked for them was paid an honest wage for an honest day's labor.  Vacations were hunting and fishing.  They wanted for nothing and had the humility of saints.

God, I miss them.  I had the honor of spending the last few hours with my great grandfather, before he died, when he talked.... he never talked before.  She did all the talking.  He was a great man.  She was a hell of a woman... no other term would suit her!  God, I wish I had what they had!  No, it was never "right" or ideal.... it was real and their devotion to each other and a commitment to a sacrament called marriage gave me and a coupel doezen others life and an example that endures.  God, I really miss them!  
 
Posts: 9002
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
670
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My grandparents were all Pentecostals. That's similar to Southern Baptist, so there was always a little bit of craziness going on. Quaking and shaking and howling at the moon. But there were also positive things. We were in a completely white area of rural Ontario, where only the guy who ran the Chinese restaurant was not of European descent. But, our church regularly hosted African American visitors from the South, who would be allowed to come to the front and explain the discrimination and hardship endured there. Then the plate would be passed, in order to raise money to help with civil rights causes. Our preacher, Keith Preston, said that this was more important than our building fund. And he was very concerned with that building fund.

My father's mother was the healthiest hypochondriac you ever met. She enjoyed messing with stories that my dad and uncle would tell us. When they told us the snow used to go right up to the hydro wires, she reminded them that the wires were only about 8 feet off the ground at that time. When they talked about their rigorous milking schedule, when they were teenagers, she reminded them that those cows got mastitis, because they had neglected their duties. There was a little newspaper called the Lucknow Sentinel. She contributed to the social page. You would learn things such as Bill and Bernice Bert are going to Florida this winter, Connie Stanley is getting married, and Gerald Roadies son will be visiting for 2 weeks. Important news like that. Both of her parents died when she was 3, and the entire brood of 14, were raised by her oldest brother Sam who was only 21 at the time. That guy was forced to grow up fast. None of the children ended up in an orphanage. He started a corn whiskey business, which involved smuggling it across the St. Clair River, into Detroit. This financed several legitimate businesses later on, for a number of my great uncles.

My grandfather on my dad's side, died 10 years before I was born. The story was that it was some sort of cancer, but from everything I can ascertain, and when we look at what he was up to, I'm convinced that it was pesticide poisoning. He liberally spread things around the milk house, and he spread DDT on the cows tits, with his bare hands. In the early 50s, the stuff was considered safe. He was 19, and had his own farm, when he married my grandmother who was 14 at the time. Highly unusual by today's standards.
.....
My mother's parents met offshore, in Newfoundland, on the squid jiggin grounds. My grandmother lost all of her brothers, in a very short period during World War 1. Almost the entire Newfoundland regiment was wiped out within an hour.

My grandfather's claim to fame, was that a bus he was driving, was used to break open the doors, of a building in St John's Newfoundland, that had been set on fire with many servicemen inside. Many people escaped. He had been in very good shape and did some professional boxing in his youth. My memory of him is as a very lazy and fat man, who was a preacher. He was a fire and brimstone preacher. Very concerned with the punishment aspect of it all. When I was quite little, I had him confused with Rex Humbard, the TV preacher. People could be sent to hell for wearing the wrong clothing. Women were to wear dresses. Men were to have short hair. Breaches of this, could result in being sent to hell.  
 
Larry Bock
Posts: 197
10
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I read the follow up posts to my OP, there are a great many tales to be told. Mine? Gramma did not drive ( gave up after she ran over a local child's foot in 1950.) she walked, even in later years to her favorite Deli. To make sure her grandson had lunch meat, cheese and fresh bread. I was driving age, working and offered so many times to drive .  Woman liked the walk. Pickled beets, pickled herring, bread pudding and alas, the mother load,tapioca pudding.(not the instant stuff, this stuff had a skin on top).  Had to re paint the cieling in th kitchen once.  She was cooking beets in her pressure cooker and did not seal the lid. Blew off and covered most of the cieling. Oh, never left that place without a five dollar bill. She called it " pin money". Still don't know what that means. I had a full time job.  Gram would insist that I take it. Lol.    Larry.  I'm kinda glad I
Got
A chance to tell someone some of
These things
 
pollinator
Posts: 1316
Location: Virginia USDA 7a/b
311
hugelkultur forest garden hunting chicken food preservation bee
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
It is enjoyable to honor your relatives, the good and the bad.

One side of the family was new money, born of the 1920s financial boom. I have no idea where they came from, all there is a name, which could be from anywhere. Not much of my upbringing from that side, my mom made sure of that. I barely knew my grandfather (maybe saw him when I was 4 or 5) and spent less than 10 days with that entire side of the family. I remember getting a sizable check when my grandmother died. I spent it on food in university- she would have been mortified I think.

The other side was old money brought to ruin. My grandfather was from minor royalty in the old country, my grandmother was as native as you can be- she was reservation-born. I found out at her memorial last week that the European side LOATHED her, they even offered my grandfather money to get rid of her. He made a wise choice. They raised their own brood and then my generation on a farm, where we did crazy things like saving seeds and butchering animals and preserving things. She was the most stubborn person I knew- other than her husband. It was a fair match. They died shortly after their 72nd anniversary.

It is funny how people want to pass money to their children. But what I am passing on to my kids is from the poor (but rich) people who passed on toughness and a love of the struggle of life. The rest I ate 20 years ago.
 
Posts: 41
Location: Jersey Shore PA
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My Gram and Pap on my Mother's side were two completely different people. Gram was soft, warm hearted and generous. She could cook but most of her meals were plain but filling. They had to be as Pap was a large man ( he gave me my tallness) and a WORKER. He would work a ten hour day welding, come home and feed the cows have supper then retreat to his shop where he could fix just about anything. He was the typical cheap Indian, Cherokee at that, and refused to spend recklessly. He was a hard man and I was a sorta lazy fat kid....we never was close. But he taught me to fish and willed me all his rifles so I guess in the end I did ok by him.
My Father's Mother is a completely different story. She was my favorite and I hers and that was no secret. She lived just up the hill from us after selling the farm and I spend most of my time with her. I was Nanny's little fat boy. She was the greatest cook I have ever met and I learned so much just by watching her cook. I also have her love of gardens and plants and am proud to say many of her house plants live with me 22 years after her death.
I lost all 3 of these special people in a 6 month period when I was 18. I still miss them this very moment.....
 
Posts: 75
Location: NW KS/NE CO State Line
8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I am fortunate to have grown up surrounded by my extended heritage.  I was the third generation to graduate high school from the same school (although my grandmother matriculated in the building where I attended grade school.) All four of my grandparents left the farm while their children were young.  Of the four, three were born and raised on the farm.  The fourth, my maternal grandmother, was a member of the Women's Land Army, the British paramilitary organization that sent urban/suburban single women to the countryside to replace farm boys who had gone off to war during WWII.  Her future husband developed a relationship with his future father-in-law playing cards and passing the time while on convalescent leave when his malaria (thank you N. Africa) relapsed during preparations for the Normandy invasion.  After the war, he returned to his father's farm, where my grandmother later joined him.  They had three children, including my mother, before moving to suburban Chicago to become a mail carrier.  That farm was a half mile from the original family homestead, where the bachelor uncle and spinster aunt lived until they died.  It was a Century farm, originally settled around 1850 by my great grandfather's grandfather, whose only daughter married a farm hand.  The family fortune was made breeding and breaking buggy horses, and lost with the invention of the automobile.  My grandfather inherited both properties, which were leased until he sold them while liquidating his estate after his wife died.  

My paternal grandfather was the youngest of four children, and so as one of two sons, was responsible for helping his father run the ranch when the eldest went to fight the Germans.  He married my grandmother during the war, the eldest of 5 raised by a single mother in the midst of the Great Depression (the youngest was 2, grandma was 8, when her father disappeared while searching for work in Colorado.)  It was a classic homestead, a small parcel of acreage, no indoor plumbing (I still remember using the outhouse and helping work the cast iron well pump) and only one interior door.  I was fortunate enough to be the third generation of kids in my family to raise 4-H/FFA hogs in the small pen out back.  G'Grandma was the eldest of 4 kids raised a few miles out of town, and all three of her brothers bought farms between 8-12 miles from where they were raised.   One, Uncle Gordon, was my favorite, with archetypical red barn, matching chicken coop, a sheep shed, and a beautifully shaded farmhouse with a kitchen garden.  To describe that place as the farmstead I see when I dream would be accurate.  

Because we lived in the same town as my dad's folks, I rather took them for granted.  Both were entrepreneurs, with grandma selling the cafe to buy the sundries store I remember from my childhood, and my grandfather running a diversified ag/oilfield welding business.  He managed to keep my dad +1 employed for nearly 30 years.  Grandma's garden continues to inspire me.  They lived in town, and she converted the vacant lot next door (starting with the backfilled basement foundation) into her garden, where I helped harvest as soon as I could tell the difference between ripe veggies and ones that needed more time.  Her store served 45-60 oilfield workers daily for decades, and that always included seasonal fresh veggies that she'd pick every afternoon for the next day's meal.  I was always eager to learn from her, even at a young age (preschool) because her store included a three-tier 10' long candy counter and ice cream machines, and she paid in chocolate.  
 
gardener
Posts: 6673
Location: Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
1323
hugelkultur dog forest garden duck fish fungi hunting books chicken writing homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Well, My father's parents were both college professors; granddad (1st generation American from Ireland/Scotland) was a geologist and grandmother (second generation American from Ireland) was an English professor. They both grew up in the Ozarks at the turn of the 20th century. Granddad's family were farmers and moonshiners, grandmothers family were involved in Barrel making and lumber milling and branched out into Investing in startup companies.  My Mother's parents were different; Meme was Austrian, third generation American and Pawpaw was Native American/ Irish (1st generation, born in 1895). Once he had retired as a Master Automobile mechanic, he went into dairy farming.
 
pollinator
Posts: 685
Location: northwest Missouri, USA
94
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
As a young boy in the '60s in a quiet suburb, I wasn't much aware of the details of the origins of our food. It came from the grocery store, was all I knew. There never seemed to be a reason to understand food. Then, when my family began visiting my grandparents for a couple of weeks each summer, I was exposed to growing food. My parents were old enough to have lived as young people during the Great Depression. My grandparents had rural agricultural roots and were frugal people, something I didn't understand then. Both sets of grandparents had gardens. But, it was my maternal grandparents who opened up my mind to the culinary delights of fresh and preserved foods grown right in their own yards. But, the main point of my story here is the wisdom that my grandmother imparted to my young mind and I didn't even know it until in recent years. So, there I was one summer standing in the rows of their garden. I must have been about 10. Grandma was weeding and I was not doing much. She pulled up a carrot. I had no idea those green tops had carrots under ground. They didn't look that way at the store. She handed me the carrot and encouraged me to eat it. I was aghast. Why would she want me to eat this filthy thing? It had what I now know to be rich soil clinging to the bright orange flesh. I didn't even grab it. I responded, "No, it's got dirt on it!" She proceeded to brush off the dirt and then wiped it with her apron and then extended it back to me and said, "There you go!" I still objected saying it still was dirty. She went over to the hose and washed it off and then offered it to me a third time when I finally took it and ate one of the sweetest and juiciest carrots I've ever had. Then grandma laid something on me I never understood until just three years ago. When I heard her say it, I just passed it off as grandma being a silly old lady and I scurried off to go play croquet with their neighbor kids. This is what she said to me and I've never forgotten it and now realize it was wisdom beyond even her experience.  When she handed me that carrot for the third time she said these words: "You have to eat a peck of dirt before you die."

Knowing what I know now about soil and gut biota, it's astounding how wise her words were. It took time before I was exposed to what a peck measure was. Once I understood that, I still didn't understand the full meaning. It now has taken years of study of plant and soil interactions in the rhizosphere and beyond that I see wisdom in her words, though she did not understand the science behind what she said. But, why did these old people have this saying? What folklore perpetuated this idea? What did the generations of the 19th Century understand about food that we universally don't today? I have come to understand, after years of contemplating my grandmother's words that day in their garden on that warm summer morning, that we humans are far more connected to this place where we find ourselves than we realize. The further we distance ourselves from our bond with the planet, the "sicker" we will become because we don't have a peck measure of dirt in us. Thank you, Grandma. I'm sorry it took me this long to understand your wisdom.
 
Larry Bock
Posts: 197
10
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Dan?, loved your post. On my grandmothers side? Exposing yourself to things increases your immunity.  Poison ivy and I did not get along.  Doing some reading about the subject.  Some early French settlers used to consume small early leaves of the plant so the body would not react so violently to the Ursirol oil. I myself would not even attempt it. Perhaps a good old story, but if you think about vaccines produced out of the actual virus. Does it sound so far fetched?   A for carrot out of the soil, trumps one that's been canned or
Frozen.  Thanks for the post.  Larry
 
Larry Bock
Posts: 197
10
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My grandfather was a quiet man. And it has been mentioned that perhaps he had suffered from some type of depression. He and Gram had to children together, my mom and her sister. When I came along, the first born male grandchild, I was told that he changed. My grandmother once told me that I brought joy back into his life. Early every Sunday morning he would show up at the house with a box of doughnuts. He would dress me and it was off to the flea market and garage sales. He would spend time talking another coin collector as I went "shopping". I don't think he spoiled me but, I seldom left empty handed.  Afterwards he would make us breakfeast back at thier house and look at our purchases.
 He was loved to hunt and fish,bought me my first rifle at the age of six and the man taught how to shoot and fish. He told me dozens of times that he could not wait for me to be old enough to go deer hunting in Maine with him. Sadly " black lung" from his time in the coal mines took him.
 Here is where it gets wierd. Decades pass and I'm out grouse hunting by myself and stopped dead I'm my tracks. My grandfather had a smell about him. Not bad,he just smelled like Grams. I felt a strong presence and could smell him as if he were standing right next to me. I spoke aloud " well,you finally made it". "He" hung around for about fifteen minutes while I continued to hunt, then was gone.  I called my mother and told her my story. She told me that it not my imagination, but a promise kept.  A grandfather and his grandson out hunting





 
gardener
Posts: 2648
Location: Fraser River Headwaters, Zone3, Lat: 53N, Altitude 2750', Boreal/Temperate Rainforest-transition
419
hugelkultur forest garden fungi trees books food preservation bike solar woodworking
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I had pretty great grandparents.  Somehow I was the apple of both grandpas' eyes.  I come from hard working peasant class stuff for the most part, except for my maternal grandpa's end of things.  Although he was born on a farm in Southern Saskatchewan, his father immigrated there from New York and Montreal where he was a gangster mafia hitman! <-  I shit you not.  He had to escape to where he had cousins into rural bumpkin life to save his life.  Anyway, back on the farm...  

When I was in grade three (sometime in the mid 1970's) my class had the assignment of writing a letter to their grandparents to ask about what life was like when they were little kids. Well my paternal grandma both had a photographic memory and wrote a regular column for a newspaper, so she can write accurately about stuff that she experienced, and so she wrote a great description of what her day to day life was like as a young girl in very rural central saskatchewan, and sent a box full of cool stuff, like  a little iron that you put on the woodstove, and a home made two blade ice skate, and other stuff.  Man, I sure wish I had that letter now!  What a treasure it would be to share.  She spoke English and French, but Grandpa only spoke French with a tiny bit of English.  When I visited though, it was like that didn't matter, even though I only spoke English.  My favorite picture of them is in their raspberry patch (100' rows!), with a bowl of fresh picked raspberries each in their hands.  My favorite times with them was picking asparagus with my grandpa (he had a special tool that cut the asparagus below the ground while standing up... which I thought was pretty awesome), and picking and shelling peas (also 100' rows) with grandma (a large wheelbarrow full of pea pods!).  I only knew them after they moved off the farm into a house in town (the still had the same huge garden).  Grandpa came over to Canada, from a little village in France with his older married brother to the community where my Grandmother was born.  They broke ground and started a farm in land close to the North Saskatchewan River but between the two rivers.  Good fertile land.  My grandparents ended up buying the local church rectory (priest's house), and moved it with horses to their property.  They also moved a barn several miles, rolling it on firewood rounds (which were shuffled back to the front by a team of men), with Morgan workhorses pulling on ropes at the front.   Cousins ended up buying the farm after my grandparents left it, and they had kids my age, so I was able to spend time on the farm that they had, and where my dad grew up.  This was a real treasured time from my youth (three summers in my teens).  A huge event was when my grandparents got remarried on their 50th wedding anniversary with most of their original wedding party.  It was a huge affair and the actual ceremony was at a the shrine of St Laurant on the South Saskatchewan river (a place of some renown where people would pilgrimage to from the surrounding French and Metis communities in hope of getting cured or getting good fortune from the Virgin Mary!), which was pretty wild and amazing for a kid that never went to church.  Boy was my dad frowned upon by the whole community that he had not raised his kids in the church.   I sure wish I lived closer to these grandparents, so that I could have spent more time with them and all of their traditions.  My grandma died when I was 10, and my Grandpa died a year and a day later, and everybody said it was from a broken heart. One of my uncles ended up getting the house, but he conifer planted trees instead of having the garden which was tough on a bunch of people who saw that garden as a huge asset of the town.

My maternal grandparents lived in the same town as us, so I got to know them a lot better.  Though they were of French descent, and were bilingual, they pretty much only spoke English to us, and only French when they didn't want us to know what was going on.  I did, however, learn to swear quite prolifically in French from my gangster descended grandfather.  He was an interesting mix of hard nosed businessman, and loving patriarch.  His father was apparently pretty strict and ensured that his boys would not go the same route that he had, and steered them into the trades.  Grandpa became a carpenter.  His brother was a mill-write, and his other brother was a plumber.  Grandpa was building houses in Williams Lake, B.C. when my dad became employed at the sawmill the his brother was running.  Because the forest industry and mills were booming at that time, it was hard for my grandpa to find good labor that would stick around.  My Great Uncle told him, I will give you my best man; and that's how my parents got together as my dad became my mom's dads' apprentice.  Anyway, Grandpa and dad built a lot of houses in Williams lake, but then went speculating on a new project and they ended up buying a tiny strip motel in Terrace, and they ended up building onto it, tripling it's room space with a two story building near it, and also built a house big enough for my grandparents family, which still included 6 children.  It had 4 different levels on several different tangents, and I remember when I first went into it and thinking (at 4 years old) that I couldn't explore it all.  There were stairs everywhere!  The project also included a store, a gas station, and a propane depot.  Dad was supposed to run the gas station part of things, but it didn't pan out that great financially so he went back to logging, while an uncle took on that with my grandpa.  This was the 'first stage of retiring' project for Grandpa.  It was a heck of a lot of work for Grandma, who ended up changing part of the store to a restaraunt so that the main clients at the hotel she was running were a road building crew.  I remember though, sitting on the revolving red leather cushioned chrome pillered stools, spinning around, with a milkshake in a steel mixing cup.  Weeeee.  I felt somewhat rich with such a place to spend time, but my family never lived wealthy or high on the hog at all.  It was all a hard working sort of background, and grandma still managed to have a large garden (I simply can't imagine a garden, a hotel, a restaraunt, children and keeping up with friends---She was amazing!), but she would take me to farms where she knew other French ladies and they would smoke and talk and grandma would by bulk potatoes and carrots and onions and beets.  We played an awful lot of cards, our whole family; mostly canasta and rummy at that time.  When it came time for Kindergarten it was not far away, so I was on half days and would spend the rest of the time with grandma, or sometimes when she was too busy I would be babysat by one of her friends.  Grandpa had a globe, an atlas, and a great readers digest book called Back to Basics. These were some of my favorite things, and I became a permaculture nerd before I knew how to read.  I would make a pie in a steel lid of a mayonaise jar, while she made like a dozen full sized pies to sell with the hard ice cream to the road crews.  She was one of those people that did not tolerate a racist comment.  If someone said something about someone else in this regard, she would always say the same thing, "They bleed the same color as I do."  I always figured that her mother said this to her as well.  She would curse a gash in my soul if some of my lego got left in the shag carpet in the livingroom; man that was the worst!  I hated getting in trouble with her.  She was harsh when she felt she had to be and always justified (I think).  I remember coming into the house after playing in the bush for a while and I would be missing my left shoe.  This happened sometimes because I have a prosthetic and I couldn't feel the laces coming untied, and the shoe would come off while I was crawling through and under bushes, or climbing trees, and anyway she would always say, "Well, go find it."  I remember distinctly one time getting in just before lunch and really hungry and noticing when i went to take my shoes off that I was missing one, and thinking I could just fake it and have lunch first.  'But I sat there, thinking, that'll never work.  She's got a sixth sense about this.  She'll see it in the look on my face."  Sure enough, like ESP, before I even snuck into the kitchen she walked into the foyer and there I was with only one shoe and she said it.  So out I would go and try to retrace my steps and trials and trails until I found the shoe.  Grandpa partly fixed the problem by building a sandbox that was so big that a boy could spend all day in it just finding all his little buried matchbox cars.  He built me wooden cars and sling shots and all kinds of other things.  His shop was awesome but I was only allowed in it with him.  Grandpa and I went up a logging road and dug up some pine trees and planted them at the hotel.  They are still there, and are quite nice now, but they were scraggly looking things when we planted them, and I had doubts that they would amount to much.  Grandma had a large flower garden that was completely amazing, and made the grounds of the hotel look like a botanical garden.  Grandpa and Dad became founding members of the local volunteer fire department.    Later the grandparents retired for good, selling the hotel and buying a nice house (but I preferred the old house and wild back yard).  They planted fruit trees and a big garden and grandpa made grandma and my mom each an octagon gazebo/greenhouse.  The whole family got together almost every Sunday (most of my mom's siblings had kids and some of them were older than me and they too had kids...), and we would feast on the bounty of the garden and berries from the forest that we picked together.  That was a big part of how they spent their retirement money.  When we had a thanksgiving or Christmas dinner we would have a large turkey, a ham, and a large salmon, and it was barely enough to feed the whole family.  I remember three roast beefs on a huge platter on a big sunday gathering.  We had badminton and crocket, and sprinklers and a checkers board that was 5 feet square and you moved the concrete pieces (with an inset eye) with a stick with a hook on it.  Grandpa stabilized the river bank at both properties by dumping raspberry runners with the wheelbarrow all along it.  

I remember my grandparents all as being hard working people, with generousity and community giving as a huge part of things in their world.  I read this thread this morning and was so caught up in memories that I cried a bit on my commute to work about my own loss of my own grandparents.  I miss all of them with my entire heart.              
 
Larry Bock
Posts: 197
10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Roberto, your post was my " morning read". I really enjoyed it. Thanks for making my morning. My mother has a box of old photos, some dating back to the 30s and a small coal mining town.im going to make an effort to dig through them this winter
 
Posts: 634
82
duck forest garden fish fungi trees food preservation bee woodworking
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
On my moms side, my grandpa was one of the best men I ever knew.  Us kids would set for hours listening to his funny stories.  My grandma Lucy (grandpa's wife and my moms step mom) would roll her eyes and set quietly while he told his stories.   Eventually I realized that no one has an unlimited fund of stories and my grandma Lucy had heard all my grandpas stories so many times she was just bored.    An shortened example of his stories.  "Once we were doing road work out in the desert, everyone else was sleeping on the ground and grumbling about how hard it was.  We had a wagon load of hay for the mules.  I dug myself a little trench, filled it with hay and went to sleep on a nice soft bed.  I woke up in the morning in the bottom of the trench with everyone laughing at me.  After I went to sleep a bunch of wild burros came in, nosed me over and ate all the hay I was sleeping on, then I rolled back over into the trench until morning".

My grandpa was a kind, gentle, honest man who took great joy in life and had a great sense of humor.  He loved kids!  He was humble as the day was long and scrupulously honest.  He was as willing to tell stories on himself as on someone else.  Damn it, Hell and Son of a Bitch were a normal part of his vocabulary, but it didn't sound like cussing when he said it for some reason (My grandma told me that those weren't considered cuss words when they were growing up).  He went to church every sunday and wasn't so much a "stereotypical believer" as God was basic to his world view.  God made the world, god had given us rules to live by, if you did something wrong apologize, make it right if possible and move on (repent), all just how it was.  Might as well argue about which direction was up in his mind.  I never heard him comment much on what others did, but his own behavior was a sermon on how to follow God.  

He was always laughing and joking about something.  By the time I came along he was hard of hearing.  Once we went to church and they announcede someone had a new job in the church.  Grandpa leaned over and whispered in my ear, just to make me laugh "that old son of a bitch!  I wouldn't hire him to be dogcatcher!"  The only problem was that, being hard of hearing he whispered loud.  I saw people all around us snort, suppress a laugh, and glance back at Grandpa with a grin.  I don't think he ever realized folks heard him, it would have embarrassed him if he had.  

Once he met a couple of old friends while he was serving at church.  They were really impressed at how much he had changed, how dignified and calm he was.  As they were walking up to the door to leave he was looking back and tripped over something.  The Damnits, Hells and Sons of Bitches started coming out.  His old friends laughed and said he was still the same man and they were glad he hadn't changed.  

One of my last memories of him was when I got married and I was telling him about my wifes parents.  My mother in law was severely injured in a car accident when my wife was about 11.  My grandpa spent the next 50 years loving her and taking care of her until she died about 2 years ago.  (After the accident the Drs told him she was a vegetable and wouldn't get any better, after a year or so she came home from the hospital but couldn't walk or talk.  She spelled out words on a ouija board to communicate.  Over the years she learned to talk, but very slowly and even to walk, also slowly.  She had a great sense of humor, but you had to be patient because she talked so slow.)  Anyway, I was telling my grandpa that my father in law was a real good man because he had stayed and cared for her when about 85% of the time an injury that severe ends in divorce.  My grandpa only comment was  "Well, he wouldn't have been much of a man if he had left, would he".  He always said my moms mom was the most beautiful woman he ever saw (he never said it around his later wives, he outlived 3, the last one buried him)

By the time I knew my moms mom, she had calmed down, although she was still plenty feisty.  She was always fun to be around, but when she was younger she was a really wild one!  Whether it was telling about the time she got teargassed in a police raid or telling about the time she and her cousin 'painted' the teachers new surrey with fresh cow manure, she could spin a yarn with the best of them, and she had seen and done a lot.  She grew up in the same poor little farming town as my grandpa but divorced him because she thought he was boring.  When they split she told him that he was a good man, but who the hell wanted a good man!  (I suspect she may have had some kind of hormonal imbalance, she went through menopause in her late 20's).  She spent the 30's and 40's working as a migrant worker with a series of husbands (all of whom died. If they had been mean to her, she was the sort who might have given death a hand). She would stop by her parents, drop the her kids off and be gone for weeks or months at a time.  My mom told me once that not all of grandma's husbands were exactly legal marriages.  Her last husband was financially responsible so she was shocked to end up with a little money.  She was always interesting to talk to.  She mostly honest, but we noticed over the years that her stories slowly got better, with her getting smarter and the other people getting dumber as time passed.  

My mom and her brother grew up getting passed around the family, living with different aunts and uncles and their grandparents.  They both were really hard workers because they knew that, while their relatives cared about them, they would keep them longer if they were good workers.  My mom was keeping house, preparing most of the meals while babysitting by the time she was 10.  She idolized her dad and loved it when she was able to go live with him, although she resented her step mom (she told me many times, "that woman was a saint to put up with me.") My grandpa eventually got a job as a foreman on a railroad crew and as foreman, he had a whole car that his family could live in when they were out in the desert working.   In the summer in arizona no one slept indoors.  it was too hot.  They slept outside either on a porch or in the back yard or someplace they set up for the purpose when they were out with the road gang.  

Grandma was a great cook and proud of it.  She told me once that when she was a little girl her dad, mom, the baby and herself had to cross the river while it was flooding (arizona river are often dry 9 years and 11 months out of 10, then they wash out all the bridges).  The method of crossing was a box attached to a rope loop with pulleys on both sides of the river.  You got in the box and pulled the rope to move yourself across the river.  Anyway, she thought the box looked about as strong as an orange crate and was sure to break once they got over the water.  She knew her dad would save her mom and her mom would hold onto the baby.  That would leave my grandma floating away.  She thought about it why her dad would save her mom instead of her and decided it was because her mom could cook and she couldn't.  So she decided to become a great cook.   If she thought a dish wasn't quite up to her usual standard, she would brag on it so much that by the time you tasted it she had you brainwashed into thinking it must be wonderful.  Given her independant nature, I figured she would be a real feminist, and one day asked her about it.  She told me no, she was always really grateful she was born a woman because, while her mom and sisters and her worked hard growing up, it was nothing to what her dad and brothers had to do.  She was satisfied with doing her part and let the men to theirs.  

Grandma would get mad at us kids some times, grab a flip flop (a cheap foam type sandal) and yell she was going to beat us to death.  The sandal made lots of noise on our butts, but didn't hurt a bit.  We would all yell like it hurt and start minding because we didn't want to hurt her feelings by letting her know she didn't know how to spank properly.  Now I realize, of course she knew.  It was all a kind of act or maybe play to bring us back into obedience without hurting us.  

Grandma would save her aluminum foil and later, her plastic wrap, wash it, put it aside and reuse it.  When we moved to Alaska she was worried we'ld all die up there, so she made big boxes of fruit leather she sent up with us.  We ate on it for at least 3 years.  She ended up living in the same town as my grandpa in southern california and they were friends.  

Among other things she told me about their poverty during the early 30's.  As a young couple they went up to southern washington where my grandpa worked as a logger along with one of my grandmas brothers.  Grandma claimed that they were there for six months before they could afford the 2 cent stamp to send a letter home to Arizona.  The local doctor was real impressed with her little baby boy (my uncle) and kept trying to talk her into letting him adopt the baby, reasoning he could provide so many opportunities that my grandparents couldn't.  They wouldn't give him up though.  Death in the logging camps due to accidents was a pretty regular occurance.  Whenever my great uncle was late coming home in the evening his wife would stand and cry on the porch because she was sure he had died like so many did there.  Once my grandpa accidently split his foot with an axe.  He went home, they bound it up and the next day he went back to work because they wouldn't eat if he missed a day of work.  She said once after she had divorced my grandpa, they ran completely out of money and food three days before payday.  She and her husband at the time had just arrived at a new farm as migrant workers and didn't know anyone.  She said after three days of working hard with no food they got payed and bought some beans.  They were still half hard when they ate them because they couldn't wait any longer and the beans seemed to be taking forever to cook.

Some want to go back to the past.  I'm not one.  I want a better future, using the best of the past and the present.

 
 
master pollinator
Posts: 1545
Location: Meppel (Drenthe, the Netherlands)
479
hugelkultur dog forest garden urban cooking bike
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My grandparents? Most important: they were the parents of my father and mother. Without them I would not even exist.

What did I learn from my grandparents? My father's mother was a lady who knitted sweaters, shawls, hats, etc., etc.  for her grandchildren. I think she was my example in knitting.
My father's father? I only remember him sitting in his armchair and smoking a cigar. But they lived in a nice place, at the side of a small river. In the cold winters of that time we went ice-skating there. My grandparents' house was always a nice place to visit.

My mother's parents were the kind of people who knew 'how to behave' ('etiquette'), so that's what I learned from them. They had a lady living with them who did the housekeeping and the cooking, I probably learned more useful things from her than from my grandparents.

My parents taught me love for nature, for the environment.
 
Posts: 16
7
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I love this thread!
What amazing stories!
My grandparents on my mum's side were migrants from India to Malaysia. They were from Kerala and were Nairs. This is a specific caste/cultural group noted for it's matrilineal inheritance system. So famous for its strong matriarchs and my grandmother was no exception. She was upper class and academic and wanted to be a professor but was married off and sent to malaysia and resented it her whole life. She was a feminist before she knew what that was. She told me to never marry and study IT, she had figured out there was a tech boom ( I didn't listen) before that she told my sister to be dr (she resisted until she realised she actually did want to be a dr despite the cliche) My grandfather was poor as a child and sent as an orphan of 10 yrs to work the rubber plantations in malaysia for the British. He worked his way up and brought his siblings over and put them all through university and had a big house and a driver, my mum went to boarding school. He would only drink the best whisky and owned mercedes bens. He had a stroke when I was 10 and lost a lot of language, english was his 5th language so we weren't able to communicate after that. He taught me "if you want the masters house you need the masters tools" and that is why education was so important to them. My grandmother was fierce and astute and critical, but never wrong! My mum is just like her! They are both pretty spooky and have an uncanny magic about them that freaks people out, and an intensity of spirit and I have definitely inherited that.
My paternal grandmother lived with us when I was a child and a teenager and I am very close to her. I am trying to get her to live close to me so I can look after her. She was an orphan and her older siblings encouraged her to marry my grandfather. She was 13 when she met him, he was 25! They were in Mauritius at the time. So she never finished school and was married at 15 to a man who was abusive. She had 2 babies before she was 20 and very bravely (for a catholic) she divorced him once they moved to Australia and ran off with a sailor to england. She was only in her 30s but had teenaged kids. Her second husband was a kind welshman who sadly died very shortly after retiring back to Australia aged 56. My grandfather, was not a nice man, but was amazing with plants and worked as a florist and grew roses and gerbera for man years. My grandmother also has a green thumb I wish I'd inherited. She is somewhat of a hypochondriac, but was warm and cuddly and I would watch the bold and the beautiful with her, and she would cook mauritian food. I have definitely inherited her warmth and quiet simple habits from her.  
 
pollinator
Posts: 1447
Location: northern northern california
207
forest garden foraging trees fiber arts building medical herbs
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Larry Bock wrote:Meaningless drivel , no. I'd like to talk about what we learned from our grandparents. A post earlier made me think of a wonderful woman who went by the name Gramma. It had been awhile since I thought of her ( sadly). I was never a " mommies boy" or a "daddies boy". I WAS... " Grammas Boy" lol
She grew up on a farm, in a small town in PA called Nanticoke. Dirt poor, quit school in the middle of seventh grade. Got married at 17 to get away from the proverbial evil step mother. I lived with her for a year when I was 16 and got to know her. When she sat down in front of you with her cup of instant coffee, a jar of peanut butter and a banana ( her breakfeast of choice), she could keep you riveted with her tales of growing up on the " farm" and scratching out a life.Sometimes one of my friends would stop over to see if I was home. Many times, I'd walk in to find out that they stopped over hours ago and just sat at the kitchen table.....listening. " your Grandmother is cool as hell" they would tell me. Between her ability to tell a story, her tendency to use profanity while doing so, Her tough street smart demeanor...and no one was ever not offered a sandwhich and a cup of coffee.  Made them comfortable to sit with an old woman and just ......listen

If someone's interested, I'd be ok with a " tell me about you grandparents thread.       Larry
Probably a lot of useful knowledge could come from it?



nice, your gram and mine sound very similar, only throw in epic amounts of better food, and some knitting/crochet needles and her rocking chair...weaving a good yarn in more than one way, and yes downright vulgar at times =) but always funny about it.

my gram was also very popular and well known, she was everyone's gramma for sure, and knew people everywhere we went, she was like...local famous =)
 
Mick Fisch
Posts: 634
82
duck forest garden fish fungi trees food preservation bee woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I don't think I get a lot from my dad's side of the family.  My dad wasn't a big story teller and we didn't visit my adopted grandpa or my blood grandpa that often.  While my moms side was pretty religious, my dad's side was a bit more colorful.

 My dad's parents divorced when he was little and my grandma eventually married the grandpa who's last name I carry (he adopted my dad and aunt).  Her family were anglo, but had been in Texas way before the Alamo.  One of my ancestors was a judge and had a huge spanish land grant.  Sadly, it was on the wrong side of the Rio Grande and after the Alamo the mexican govt was understandably leery of recognizing the land rights of gringos on their side of the river, so that was lost.  One of my dad's uncles was the only survivor of a tragic misunderstanding during a poker game in a saloon and had to relocate to Mexico for several years.  Another uncle traded a city block of what is now the financial district of Fort Worth for a pair of boots around 1917.  Another uncle married Judge Roy Bean's daughter, which upset one of my dad's other aunts because of her mexican descent.  My blood grandfather was a bootlegger for years, until they made him a local judge.  He said after that, it just didn't seem right, so he quit bootlegging.  I asked him once where 'the Old Country' was, (meaning where the family came from in Europe).  He responded 'The Ohio" (not Ohio, actually they came from Indiana, around the Civil War, but from the Ohio River region as it was called back in the mid 19th century).  My dad's mom died in a car accident when he was about 11.  He was sleeping in the back when a semi hit them head on a narrow bridge.  I've seen a picture of the wreck, it didn't look like a car wreck, it looked like a bunch or pieces of car strewn across the landscape.  My dad's memory of it is he woke up, hurting really bad.  He couldn't see, but he heard someone standing above him say "Hey!  This one's alive!"  After the funeral, my blood grandpa came out to California to get the kids.  There are different versions of the story, (whether there was violence or not), but my adopted grandpa said these were HIS kids and kicked my blood grandpa off the property.

My Grandpa (the adopted one) was from Alsace (on the french and german border).  He spoke french, german, and alsation when he was young, but when I was a teenager, he couldn't remember much.
He said Alsation was a kind of german, but different enough that they could lapse into it around strangers and not be understood.  His grandpa and great-grandpa were the burgermeisters of their town.  His dad was tarred and feathered and driven out of town on a donkey for burning the farm down (twice) for insurance and getting the neighbors wife pregnant.  My grandpa said that a lot of people didn't like his dad, but when he lit a cigar and laughed, the whole world was happy.  My grandpa immigrated by himself when he was 15 years old, because he didn't want to be a  farmer (as oldest son, the farm was his).  I've wondered if part of it was not wanting to be in the town that drove his dad out.  He joined the U.S. Army (horse calvary) and was part of the crew that chased Pancho Villa all over Mexico.  Strangely enough, his story doesn't much resemble the official version.  (invading a peaceful country, chasing your enemy for months and not catching him but shooting the hell out of the 'local resistance' isn't the story we want in the official paperwork).  My grandpa was a kind, loving man, a little stiffly formal.  He was also fiercely proud.  He had a thick accent (sounded like he'd just got off the boat 'till the day he died).  If someone asked him where he was from he would say "I am an american citizen, if you wish to discuss it further, we can step outside."  When he retired from the Army after 34 years, they moved to California during world war II.  He came home late one night shortly after arriving because the local constabulary had held him for hours as a possible german spy.   He had to lie to get into the Army because their minimum hight standard was 5' 6".  He was 5'5 1/2".  He was built like a gorilla, with a huge barrel chest.  When he was skin and bones near the end, I couldn't get my 15 year old arms around his chest.  he was honest as the day was long, very formal on some occasions, but with a terrible temper.
 
gardener
Posts: 3049
Location: Southern Illinois
561
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have a world of respect for my maternal grandfather.  He began farming when he was approximately 10 and he continued to farm almost literally to the moment of his death—he was out on a tractor when a health emergency struck and had to go to the hospital where he died about 2 weeks later (absolutely not the fault of the hospital to be clear) at the age of 83.

My grandfather loved farming.  Although he was definitely a “chemical” farmer (he was a product of his time), he would look, listen, feel and even smell his farmland.  When soybean production really took off in Minnesota, he was told that he could grow his beans after/before corn and would need no fertilizer as the beans would fix their own.  He never believed that he could do this and get the yields that were predicted and the following year there was a sort of collective mea culpa by the agronomist that had misinformed so many farmers.  I believe that had he heard of the Gabe Brown approach to farming that he would have realized the benefit.

He never fell for the short term fads in agriculture.  He was a traditionalist by default.  He did like his tractors though and had some beauties.  As much as possible he held his grain in storage and sold it, sometimes Months later when the price was right.  He did not so much farm for the absolute highest yield, he grew for what was going to give him the best income, and that meant he frequently avoided spraying or fertilizing late in the season when the growing was almost done, but the price for spraying was still quite high.  Again, I think that had he been exposed to GB farming he would have done so, if nothing else than to cut expenses.

He was a wise man and I miss him.

Eric
 
gardener
Posts: 1726
Location: South of Capricorn
664
dog rabbit urban cooking writing homestead ungarbage
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
So many great ancestors!!

I only have one grandparent that I knew, and she was a doozy. Like some others here, she was a real live wire and had a mouth that could make a sailor blush. She was the only girl among many boys born to an Irish family on a potato farm in Long Island, which the family promptly lost (not sure why, everyone I could ask is now dead and gone) and she and her brothers were deposited with her own grandmother in Brooklyn. She grew up in great poverty, told us of going from having ample food on the farm to chewing on tar that she found along the railroad track. She stayed in school til the 5th grade (but learned some latin with the nuns, amazingly) and then started working (first meatpacking, then garments). She married my grandfather, who drove a trash wagon that brought slops from the city to the pig farms in NJ (my great-aunt who told me this story swore it was pulled by animals, but this must have been in the early 1940s so that seems doubtful) but was also a baseball player. They married and my father was born, at which point everyone caught diptheria and my grandfather died. She then managed to muscle her way through life, with a wild sense of humor and a sharp tongue. She settled in a small town in urban NJ that was my refuge as my own family moved from place to place; I spent treasured summers with her. Everyone would say, ah, you're Kay's granddaughter, and I would be thrilled when people said I reminded them of her.
She was never much of a cook (in fact, much of her cooking was disastrous; she made a point of making Irish soda bread every year, which was heavy enough to seriously hurt someone. I ate it anyway, toasted, because Gram made it... nobody else would! Years later I actually had real soda bread and I was gobsmacked, since they had nothing in common....), but she could whoop together a birthday cake and make it look like whatever you wanted. She roared through different hobbies, mastering (and then abandoning) macrame, stained glass, ceramics, crocheting. She also had her highs and lows and like the Grandmother mentioned earlier, she also "went to ground" and spent a few months in her room at one point after losing a baby with her second husband. A few years ago she was nearing death and deep in the pit of dementia. She was unable to speak, and prior to that was waking up in the middle of the night desperately tring to escape the house "to go to work"-- work had been the most important part of her life, so much so that even as she was fading away she couldn't let go of it. I went up there with my daughter on a visit and I didn't think she was going to last much longer. She was agitated and everyone was upset. I was at wits' end and remembered I had some knitting in my bag, a scarf that I was making for my daughter. I got it and put it in her hands, and her eyes lit up as she knit a couple of rows with a smile on her face. We were all astonished; her hands were so far beyond her control that she was unable to feed herself at that point. She had told me years earlier that she didn't like to knit because as a girl that was her chore (lots of boys in the house, I imagine there were lots of socks). But her girlhood shone through her for a moment and it was touching. Today I have that part of the scarf cut out and framed on my family altar in remembrance of her and that moment.

She encouraged me to try new things and go new places, and I think I can entirely credit her with teaching me to be unafraid. She was my biggest fan when I decided to move abroad the first time. She hated vegetables, and animals, and plants, and was a city girl through and through, but she is a big inspiration for me in my life: being intrepid has many facets.  
 
pollinator
Posts: 339
Location: Southern Germany
159
kids books urban chicken cooking food preservation fiber arts bee
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My father was an only child and my mother only has a childless sister, so we were the only grandchildren to all our grandparents. As the only granddaughter I had an even more exclusive standing.

My mother’s side:

My grandmother was a smart and confident city girl who met my grandfather when she was 30. They had a long and harmonious marriage and were the most wonderful grandparents.
They lived frugally and saved every penny for us. My first computer, my driving lessons (very pricey here in Germany), part of the savings for the house I now live in all came from them.

My grandma was a wonderful storyteller. She would visit us and go to the forest in our suburb to pick mushrooms and tell tales at the same time (we always begged for gruesome bloody horror stories!). The kids from the neighbourhood would love to join us.

My grandfather had a good upbringing and was an officer in WW2. He lost his right arm in Russia. We never talked about this time, but the man I knew was very gentle and prudent (he worked in a bank) and I never heard a loud or nasty word from him.
I was in my late twenties when my grandfather died and I was devastated – the first loss in my life.

My grandmother survived him for several years with declining health and onsetting dementia.

I remember her wondering why the family was scattered now, it used to be different with everbody around in previous times – when her daughters had long had their own lives she reminisced the times when they were children and everybody was close. This really stuck with me. Now that I have children on my own I can relate. Happiest time of my life.

I held my grandmother’s hand when she passed away.

My father’s side:

My grandparents originated in the old Habsburg empire with ancestors from Austria, Bohemia, Moravia, Hungary.

When my father was born, they lived in Czechoslovakia and had a pharmacy and photo lab. In 1945 they were expulsed with millions of others and ended up in Bavaria.

My grandfather had a smart German DKW oldtimer which he cherished, and my grandmother wore makeup and dressed elegantly. They had an awful marriage, always quarrelling with each other, but they doted on us.

As they lived further away our relation was not that close.

Almost all my grandparents lived into their high nineties, but still I think there is a lot I should have asked them and I still miss them.

What did I learn from them?
Love your family. Be frugal, but don't forget to enjoy your life before it is too late.


 
God is a comedian playing for an audience that is afraid to laugh - Voltair. tiny ad:
100th Issue of Permaculture Magazine - now FREE for a while
https://permies.com/goodies/45/pmag
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic