Dinner With My Grandma

Here are how the folks on the matrilineal side of my family met, as learned at dinner tonight.

My Mom and Dad

My mom went down to meet the student pastor at my grandma’s church and invited him over for brownies.

My Grandma and Grandpa

My Grandma and Grandpa were in the same church group after high school.  Somehow they had to deliver treats somewhere and after they did, my grandpa asked my grandma, "What do we do now?" and my grandma said, "You can take me to the movies."

My Great Grandma and Great Grandpa

They met at a party and my great grandpa decided he liked my great grandma so much that he would make the hour and  half street car trip out to Morgan Park from Chicago just to call on her.

My Great Great Grandma and Great Great Grandpa

My Great Great Grandma came over from Gamleby, Sweden when she was 16 years old and took a job as a cook’s helper in a big home in Chicago.  My Great Great Grandpa, who spoke five languages, was supposed to just be over in the States drumming up business for the family distillery.  Once he laid eyes on America, though, he was determined that he wasn’t going back to Germany and so he took a job as a delivery boy… delivering to the big house where my great great grandma was a cook’s helper.  Later on, he worked for some union cashing people’s paychecks, so he always carried a gun.

My grandma was also telling us about the Chicago World’s Fair and how her mother organized some PTA singing group so that they could get into the Fair for free.   My grandma remembers being there when Italo Balbo landed.  And she complained that it was deathly hot and that everything except for the home tour cost too much money and so she didn’t get to do anything but sit around and people watch.

She also sometimes rode her bike up Lake Shore Drive, but thinks it would be foolish to do so now.

And she has the love letters my great grandma and great grandpa wrote each other during World War I, but she and my grandpa burnt the love letters they exchanged during the Second World War, thinking they were too hot for anyone else’s eyes.

That tickles me.

It was good to see her.  She seems old and frail, but she seems to be in better spirits and more alert than I’ve seen her in my entire adult life.

In Gamleby, my family built ships.  And collected taxes.

That tickles me, too. 

9 thoughts on “Dinner With My Grandma

  1. See, this confirms what we’ve known all along. You come from a long line of smart, strong, talented, hot women.Who put up with a lot from their fellas because those fellas are funny and/or equivalently hot.I think we’re kin. Hee.Turkey-flavored smooches to all y’all!

  2. My in-laws recently burned their love letters – they courted via mail while he was in Europe and she here in the states.It’s one of those things I would have loved to keep around to show our future kids and grandkids, but their love is so deep, they don’t think it’s anyone’s but theirs and want to burn them to keep them, I don’t know, sacred I guess.I didn’t know love like that still existed.Your family sounds pretty friggin awesome, by the way. Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. I have a box of letters from B’s grandfather to his sweetheart (grandmother) from WWI that came into our possession after my in-laws died. Damn, I really need to get on that, transcribing and archiving them. It tickles me that you had a family who were in the distillery business. Sweet! And one day a year, in the summer, the city closes down LSD for an event called ‘Bike the Drive.’ It goes from around Hyde Park or so (59th Street) all the way up to Evanston, about 30 miles or so, and thousands of people participate.

  4. My grandmother saw my grandfather in "Downtown" Grand Rivers, KY and he was eating a head of raw cabbage. I guess the gas that was sure to follow got her all turned on. This is why it’s good to talk to the old folks and find out good stuff like this. It makes them become real people and not just your grandparents.Bring snow back with you.

  5. My grandmother nursed my grandfather’s first wife through her death of cancer in the 1940s. She wishes the world to know, however, that she made him pursue her for 3 years before she considered it proper to go out with him after that. After all, people might talk. I love my nana. :)

  6. My Grandmother’s advice to me, was to make sure that I kept up with all my correspondence to boyfriends/husbands and to take care of it myself if I wanted it kept private. She had all hers bundled together in a cedar chest and she burned all the letters shortly before she died. I never got to read them.Following her advice I re-possesed all the cards, notes, etc from the former Ex and burned them myself as the symbolic ending of the relationship. Wise Women.

  7. My first Love and I wrote a lot of very passionate letters. We were together for over a decade, but rarely lived in the same town, so we had plenty of opportunities to write. Both of us are paper people — we love stationery, pens, the actual writing of love letters — and we’re both historically inclined. We used the letters not only to discuss our intimate lives, but also to argue about current events, talk about our ambitions, discuss our daily work, and so forth — what a more wealthy couple might talk about on the phone or through e-mail now. When the romance ended (not acrimoniously, just a case of irreconcilable futures), we had boxes and boxes of letters. Neither of us wanted to burn them, as they represented the best of what had been. Lugging them around, however, was going to be a hassle and might have been painful for the new people in our lives. We wound up donating ours to one of our college archives, restricted until 2040. We have the option to extend that restriction if we’re still alive and care. That way, the letters can still exist somewhere in case anyone is interested in what two ordinary people in the Midwest thought and behaved while crazy in love. Our spouses and kids and relations, however, don’t have to be embarrassed or put out by our youthful spoonery.

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