Memories of Grandma Anna

Sunday is the 126th anniversary of grandma’s birth- July 2, 1891.  I thought I’d take a moment to share some memories I have of her.

My first memories are from when she and grandpa lived on the house on the hill.  Grandma had an old rusted stove out back of her house that was my “go-to” place for making mud pies.  I loved going to Grandma’s house and cooking up delicious muddy delights.  There was also a hill behind grandma’s house that was perfect for flying kites.

Grandma had an abundance of mulberry bushes around her house.  She’d give us some old blankets and we’d shake the dickens out of the bushes, letting the delicate berries fall onto the blankets.  She’d warn us not to get the berries on our hands because they’d stain your skin something awful.  Every year we’d listen to the warnings, pluck a few berries from the blanket, pop them in our mouths, and come back with purple fingers.  Grandma would gently scold us, wash the berries, put them in small bowls, and serve them with real cream.  Yum.

My other memories of grandma are from her house in town.

In-town house

Grandma moved there after grandpa died.  I loved that house with its steeper-than-steep staircase to the attic, the large furnace grate in the dining room, the wringer washer out back, and the creepy cellar underneath.  Grandma always had a candy dish with those old-fashioned pink peppermint candies in her dining room.  If we were very stealthy, we could lift the lid and sneak one out without her knowing.  Grandma’s house had two bedrooms downstairs with a closet that connected them.  (It made for some fun hide-and-seek games!)  Grandma had a recliner in her living room that faced the TV.  Every day, grandma would watch her “story” and lament the actions of the characters.

Grandma served us delicious homemade buns (her specialty) with thick bologna slices—the kind of bologna that had that red ring you had to strip off.  She’d fill us with date cookies (not my favorite) and peanut butter cookies (ahh…much better).  When her memory started going, she once made peanut butter cookies without the peanut butter.

Grandma and Mom

Grandma never made green Jello without shredded carrots in it.  She never made black cherry Jello without bananas in it.  She served cucumbers “cured” in vinegar, salt, and sugar.  Grandma warned me never to eat cucumbers unless they were properly “cured.”  She told me she knew someone who died from eating raw “uncured” cucumbers.

Grandma grew up speaking Norwegian and still said words that sounded funny to a kid’s ears.  We’d always tease her about her “batroom” (bathroom).

Me, Uncle Ole, Grandma, Jana, Kurt

Uncle Ole (grandma’s brother) lived with her for several years.  When Uncle Ole lived there, there was always a bottle of Cornhusker’s Lotion in the “batroom.”

My funniest memory of grandma happened in the summer at her house in town.  It was June 2 and we were visiting from out of state.  Grandma seemed unusually quiet.  She sort of moped around the house all day.  We’d say, “Grandma, what’s wrong?” and she’d just make her grandma face and say nothing.   It wasn’t until after sundown that we finally learned what had bothered her all day.  She finally announced, “Well, it was my birthday today and NOBODY wished me happy birthday.  Nobody brought a cake.  No cards.  Nothing.”  We said, “Grandma, it’s June 2, not July 2!”  She replied that it was not and she went to the kitchen to prove it.  She pointed at the feed store calendar and said, “Look!”  Sure enough, the feed store calendar showed it was July 2.

In the wastebasket under the calendar, however, there were two calendar pages—May and June.  Grandma had accidentally torn off two pages at the end of May and had skipped an entire month.

We all had a good laugh.

Grandma G. in kitchen

When grandma laughed, she put her hand over her mouth, just like in this picture.

Happy 126th birthday, Grandma Anna!