My Grandma Hattie was an educated woman. She had graduated from high school and taught Sunday school at her church in Indiana.
When my father was very young, my grandparents moved first to Iowa and then to Illinois. They finally ended up in Foosland – yes that is the name of a town – which had about 50 or so people in it as I remember. I’ll bet it’s full of McMansions now. Gone to ruin probably since the economy in downstate Illinois has never been awesome.
My grandpa was the – uh – don’t know how to put this – effervescent member of the family. He swore like a sailor, was very tall and always entertaining. Later in his life, after carpentry had relaxed its spell on him, he worked at the junk yard. I owe my inability to pass up a yard sale to him, I think. I wish I’d been old enough to go through his garage before my father and his brothers sold the place off.
Back to Grandma. When my grandfather died in 1960, she pretty much lost her will to live. She was not a happy person. Whereas my other grandmother picked up and moved across country, Grandma Hattie lived with us and then her sister off and on (when Mom and her couldn’t get along) and she always said “I don’t know why a body has to live when a body has nothing to live for.” Oh, I might have come by depression pretty honestly, now that I think about it.
She did lovely things when they both lived at their home. She had a marvelous garden with a sour cherry tree, grape vines, every kind of vegetable imaginable (the corn was by the outhouse) and flowers everywhere. I got my love of gardens from her too.
When the cherries were ready to pick we’d pile into the car and go help. A ladder would come out and my dad would start the picking. I picked what I could low to the ground, being clumsy. Grandma would make the most outrageous cherry pie – I’ve never tasted a better one. And my dad and grandpa would take off the top crust and dump the sugar bowl on it. Really.
After cataract surgery Grandma was allowed to live on her own in a tiny little house. One day she had a heart attack and the doctor said she couldn’t live alone any longer. She, of course, wanted Mom to take care of her, but thank God Mom was smarter than that. Grandma had to go to a nursing home and didn’t live a whole lot longer. She was 86 and I think she did well since she was ready to die some 20 years earlier.
She raised 5 sons during the Depression. She managed to feed and clothe them and when she couldn’t, she sent one, my dad, to live with his grandmother in Indiana. She was a lovely lady who loved to watch things grow. I miss her too.