I’ve had the privilege of spending the last few months with my 90-year-old gram. Her husband, my grandpa passed away suddenly leaving her whole world turned upside down. Many, many changes are happening in her life right now and it made me sit and think about her 90 years of life and how things are so different now than they were when she was younger. It made me think that I should utilize this time that I have with her and continue learning more and more about this amazing & remarkable woman. I decided one day to sit down and just do a little interview with my 90-year-old Gram. I never get tired of hearing her stories and this gave me an opportunity to go a little bit deeper and to learn more about what life has been like for her over so many decades. Sitting here over tomato soup and lemon pie, reminiscing. I ask a series of questions that spark hours of conversation.
What was daily life like for you growing up?
We played outside all the time. We were always playing ball. We played til we got called inside. In the winter we went skiing & on toboggans. In the summer we swam in the many lakes that surrounded us. We swam right with the cows and the cowshit. We didn’t have many chores. I was the one who usually milked our 1 cow, we only had one. We took turns with setting the table, clearing the table & wiping dishes. No one really helped my Mother cook. Every night she cooked a big meal, usually a roast, mashed potatoes & gravy, vegetables from the garden & always a dessert. Every Sunday we had chicken dinner. My Mother would chop their heads off, dip them in boiling water and pluck the feathers. My Dad was always busy doing something. He was a hard worker. He made wooden horses for little kids. He never sat still. My Mother & Dad were always on the same page. We never did get spanked. We just KNEW when my Dad gave us “the look” that he meant business.
What were your parents like?
They loved to dance, we all did. They weren’t very lovey in front of us kids but they sure must have been lovey because they had 6 kids! They were hard working people and very respected. My Mother was a great baker often times baking 6 loaves of bread each time. I remember one time seeing my Dad pinch my Mothers boob, right on the side and all she said was Kenneth! You cut that out! They gave us advice daily. Mostly -don’t smoke. We all smoked. Haha. My Dads sister smoked like a chimney and we thought she was soooo cool.
What kind of clothing did you wear?
My Mother sewed skirts for us with a nice band around them. We always wore dresses or skirts with blouses. NEVER jeans, people might think we were farmers then ! 😂😂😂
What was your favorite music?
We were all musical. Delores and I played piano, everyone sat around us and sang. I loved to play hymns. But I really loved rock music. Later I loved the Beatles, Elvis, & The Beach Boys.
What were holidays like?
Holidays were HUGE celebrations! We always got lots of presents. I remember one Christmas I got 17 dolls!!! I was probably 4-5 years old. Some of them cried. I remember taking them apart to see how they worked. We always had a lot of family that bought us gifts. We were very spoiled. Birthday parties were pretty much like holidays. Big meals and lots of presents.
I asked my Gram what the holiday meals were like if her Mother made huge meals on a normal basis. She said they were just bigger and more.
What were some of your favorite foods?
I liked everything. I wasn’t picky. My Mother was a good cook. Delores didnt like potatoes. There was a place under our table where she used to hide them. My Dad didn’t like carrots but he ate them and always told us to eat them too. Betty’s husband later introduced us to krub, he was Norwegian. It’s still a family favorite!
Did you ever get in trouble?
We were all pretty good kids. One time I came home and I really wanted to go to Richardson to the dance hall so I took my Dads car that he used for the mail route. The keys must have been in there. Well my Dad found out and he came right to that dance hall. I was smoking and drinking. I quickly stomped out my cigarette when I saw my Dad. My Mother said “Boy, are you going to get it.” My Dad had ink that was to be delivered to the school and he had kept it in the car so it wouldn’t freeze, and I had the car. The tires also had chains on them and I drove the entire way on pavement. I didn’t know. (😂)
Another time I was at the Rutabaga fest in Cumberland with my Mother and my Aunt Alice and her baby. I decided I wanted to go to Almena to see my boyfriend, so I took the car. They must have ALWAYS kept those keys in there! (Haha.) I saw the time and had to hurry back so I was driving very fast. I heard a click, click, click…I blew a rod, but didn’t get in trouble because my Dad blamed it on the person who changed the oil.( Haha) My Mother was mad though, because the baby was crying and they wanted to sit in the car with her and the car was gone.
One time we had planned a skip day in high school. There were 70 kids in my class but only 7 skipped and I was one of them. The principal told some of the kids to find the people who skipped and tell them they had so much time to get back to school or they’d be expelled. He didn’t mess around! He called me in his office and asked why I skipped. I told him EVERYONE was going to skip not just me. He then asked me if EVERYONE jumped off a bridge would I? Haha. He then told me he’d inform my Mother & Dad about this. He did, they didn’t care. One girl got in a lot of trouble, probably beat, but my Mother and Dad just acted like la-de-da.
What age were you allowed to date?
We always dated in groups. No one told us we could or couldn’t date, we just did. We didn’t have a chaperone, our parents trusted us. We never really got in trouble.
What was your favorite decade?
I would have to say 15-25. I LOVED my teen years. Probably because I could drive…. FAST!
What invention had the most impact on your life?
We never had a telephone, so I’m not sure how all those boys could call and ask me out, maybe they drove to my house and just asked. We were the only house in our neighborhood who had electricity and running water. We were rich!(😂 haha) I guess I would say tv. That was really something when we got a tv! Oh and cars, because I love to drive! FAST!
Do you have any regrets?
I wish I could go back and help my Mother more. She worked so hard and we didnt help her as much as we should have.
What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned and what advice would you give to young adults these days?
Be kind. To everyone. Our family was raised to be kind and we were. Be kind.
I had so much fun listening to Grams stories! I couldn’t let this opportunity pass to put down in writing the things we all think we will remember and seldom do. Today will be a day that goes down as one of the most memorable days I’ve had!
(This all ended with, “What are you asking me all this for? You’re writing a story aren’t you? I could go to jail!” Haha Never a dull moment!