One game we girls always played was ‘house’ naturally. We had a funny way to make a house of rooms. We would take the old push mower and mow sections in the yard to resemble room floor plans then set up toys to distinguish each room. It wasn’t our Dad’s favorite way to mow the lawn, but at least there was a lot less for him to do. The safe streets were good places to ride our bikes as we could go on all of them and visit our friends anytime. Games like ‘kick the can’, Red Rover Red Rover, Tag, Cowboys and Indians‘ are some you all remember too. Making tents over clotheslines with blankets and close pins, and swinging in the back yard on the swings Dad put up between two hickory nut trees. The trees were just perfectly spaced apart with a couple of strong branches opened just right and a huge long hunk of wood sat in the crook of them, both tied and nailed for safety. Though I’m not one for heights now, I remember climbing up the ropes and sitting on that bar. We used to sit underneath and crack and eat the hickory nuts, even though it was quite a task to get enough meat out of them.
With all this, our favorite thing was to go up the street to Grandma and Grandpa’s. We always needed more spoiling you know. Of course they were always willing to oblige.
Grandma made the best pies. My favorite was custard. Haven’t had one since she passed. Mom used to run a little truck stop across the highway from our little community. It was open 24 hours and Grandma made the pies for it. I had my eighth birthday at the restaurant. It was a busy little place that lasted through our teen years, but alas, the I system had all the truckers going elsewhere.
Grandma and Grandpa had one of the first televisions in neighborhood. Jack’s uncle (more on him later) had the other. Needless to say we always wanted to be there and watch the thing. Later we had our own of course, a huge thing called a Hallicrafter. I hope that’s how it’s spelled. It was on this tv I first saw Elvis shake his hips. Mom and Dad laughed and just couldn’t understand how we could like this kid. Much the same way, I suppose, we reacted to the one our kids liked. Some music today still doesn’t make sense to me.
Not all was good and fun. The death of my grandmother on my 11th birthday was the biggest tragedy in my life back then. Though as a child I didn’t know how bad she had been feeling, I remember Mom telling us not to tire her out. We would spend a lot of time with her, brushing her hair while she sat in her rocker. The month before we had just had the arrival of another sister, Rhonda. Grandma had bought a pair of bib overhauls thinking and hoping it may be a boy, so Rhonda was only a month old when Grandma passed. Jodi came four years later and sadly never had the chance to know this wonderful woman.
Grandma was a short little woman with an Irish temper that she wasn’t shy about using if the need arose, though most of the time she was a quiet smiling and busy lady until she started to ail.
I remember Mom telling about a on of her expressions of anger. Grandpa used to make liquid libation should we say. There was a lady on the other street who not only liked her drink but she kind of like Grandpa too. Well she showed up at the house looking for both I guess, and Grandma greeted her with a broom and chased all the way back to her house with the warning not to show her face around there or him again. Can’t really say as I blame her.
I had an occasion to see it a little. While Sherry and Mom were in Milwaukee and I stayed with them, I got hurt at school. There was a Merry-go-round type playground piece that all the kids would sit on and grab the bars to hang on. The big kids would grab hold of the seat and start running around so it would spin faster and faster. Mind you I was only 6. Well this day they had it really going and I lost my grip. I flew off and all the way down the hill to the bottom of the school yard. It was built on a hill and instead of the thing being put in back of the school it was at the front. Of course I wanted to go home and the principal told me she was calling Grandma to meet me. Well when I walked into the kitchen was Grandma in for a surprise. She had no idea I was coming as no call had been made. The fact that I had to cross a major highway really made her mad. She marched right up to that school and gave that lady an Irish piece of her mind.
I told you Grandma passed on my birthday, but I didn’t find that out until much later, after I was married and had Darla. When Grandma got so sick they hospitalized her (they called it a decaying heart back then) Grandpa called the night of my birthday. Mom, right on answering the phone said “please not on Terry’s birthday”. He told her no but it wasn’t looking good. That was around 11 p.m. A little after 12 he called again and said she had just gone. He figured I shouldn’t grow up with that sadness connected with my birthday. The trouble was, my aunt Dot’s birthday was the next day from mine. I guess he thought it would be easier for an adult to handle.
Unfortunately Grandpa couldn’t deal with the loss of his wife and I have heard he took to drinking. This was kept from us for a long time and only picked up in bits of conversation at gatherings later in life. He was saved from this down turn by a wonderful woman named Dorothy which, much to the dismay of our parents, he married just a little over 6 months later. Mom was devastated and told us we could not call her grandma, only Dorothy. Eventually she saw how good she was and how happy grandpa was and accepted and even learned to love her. We could call her ‘grandma Dorothy’. That he had two great marriages that each last 25 years or more I think is wonderful. We love and miss them all.