Stepping back in time to the early 1960’s, I can see the little tannish-brown, chalk puppy-dog my dad’s mother used as a door stop when she left the door open. I can hear the screen door slam shut by the pull of a heavy spring pulling it closed, shaking the hook often used to keep us out. Vague memories of feather beds and doilies covering chair arms and tables is what I see when I think about my dad’s mother. She was a short, rotund woman with a gray bun made from very fine, waist length hair. Her house was spotless and again, kids weren’t allowed to stay in the house in the summer time. I remember a screened in back porch with a deep cistern from where she drew her water. I can see the large, heavy lid that covered the cistern opening. On top of that lid was a large, heavy rock to keep us kids out of it. I remember the water was cool. There was a bucket lowered by a small rope, brought up with the sounds of dripping music hitting the water in the bottom of the cistern. I can see her chubby, hands with a slight tremble as she held the ladle, spilling some of the water on the concrete surface of the well as she pours the water into a pitcher to bring inside. I can see her small, brown hexagon shaped television set sitting in the living room. Her hardwood floors were covered with throw rugs and the like. As I continue my tour into her bedroom, I see two full-sized feather beds with a quilting rack hanging from the ceiling covering her bed. The beds were so soft, one would sink to the bottom. The pillows were big and had embroidered pillowcases on them that matched the homemade quilts that covered them. Hanging over each bed is a chalk cross of Jesus with a cherub at either side of his feet. One was green and the other was pink. Somewhere, Linda has the pink one. I have what is left of the green one. It was Brenda’s and I have it displayed in a curio cabinet in my living room. Memories lurk around every corner of our home. In her younger years, my grandmother was a seamstress, so she made everything I saw in her house, including her clothes. I remember most of her clothes were made of a smooth, slick material called jersey, with large buttons and hats to match with long hat pins she would put through the bun of her hair. She always wore a broach of some type on her left shoulder. Her shoes were clod hopper looking things, black with short flat heels and stockings that she would roll up to her knees. I can remember her baking biscuits with lots of butter in a cast iron skillet, but for some reason I can remember the sugar cane she kept in the cabinet the best. Instead of candy, grandma would take a large butcher knife out of the drawer and cut us a piece of sugar cane, cutting and pulling, bending it until it broke into pieces about 3 inches long. She would say “after you’ve chewed the sweet out, spit the rest out”. I remember the large salt-box she kept on the back porch. In this salt box was pork that had been covered over and over with salt, a way to preserve it for future use. I can remember grandma making homemade lye soap, of course I don’t know the recipe other than it was hot, the fat from animals was melted or boiled, it didn’t smell very good and she put it into some kind mold to harden into small square blocks. I do remember grandma being authoritarian and my mother wasn’t too fond of that. Mom, often would say to my dad “Kenneth, these aren’t her kids”. Even though there may have been a little friction between my mom and dad about his mother, grandma never knew it to my knowledge. Mother always said she learned a lot from grandma, especially about taking care of babies and sewing. Mom said when my oldest sisters were born, prematurely that grandma would put them in a shoe box and open the oven, turn it on low and sit the girls on the oven door to help keep them warm. Back in the 40’s, three-pound babies had a hard time, but they survived to beat the odds. My older siblings have more memories of grandma than I do, like the times they say she would get all dressed up on Saturday evenings and take the girls to the movies. That must have been a sight having an 80-year-old lady walk you down town to the movies. I remember the attachment my dad had with his mother. His father had died by the time he was 16, so she became the one constant in his life. He too, as I did, adored his mother. Can you imagine if we could really open our minds what we might find? All of this remembered by a five-year-old boy. My grandma died October 14, 1963 at the age of 83. I was five years old.
Copyright @coffeewithcharles.blog (Charles D. Grant)