My Grandma R lived close to my family when my sister and I were growing up. We saw her regularly at least once a week, sometimes even more because she was often our babysitter. When I was very little, I could sometimes get Grandma to read childrens’ books to me, but I don’t remember this happening a lot. We were usually more interested in playing with the old-fashioned dollhouse, or with her collection of teddy bears, or watching The Andy Griffith Show on her cable tv (which we’d never had). But one book-related memory from about this age stands out in my mind. Grandma was reading aloud a Sesasme Street story featuring Big Bird and one of the characters said, “Gee…” Now, this was a word I was never supposed to say growing up, so I was shocked to hear my own grandmother say it. Self-righteous me soundly rebuked her for it, but she didn’t understand what the problem was.
Grandma was artistic, and was quite a famous quilter in her day and spent most of her freetime quilting applique or patchwork by hand. I remember spending time playing underneath her Amish-made quilt frames as she sewed wearing a thimble. She had a whole bookcase full of quilting magazines filed away with the page numbers of patterns she was interested in penned on the front. She also had a whole bookcase of other books which included ‘50’s era novels, Janette Oke, and some Reader’s Digest books. The RD books were the most interesting to me because they had photographs of covered bridges, country schoolhouses, and other nostalgic old-timey subjects.
Grandma sewed other things besides just quilts. Whenever anyone asks me what my most cherished possession is, I immediately think of my Raggedy Anne doll that Grandma made me for Christmas when I was 5 years old. Actually, she made one for my sister as well. On their tummies are embroidered hearts with the words, “I Love You” stitched on. Doll blankets and doll clothes were also handmade. We loved those Raggedies to death! Grandma also gave us a series of Raggedy Anne books by Johnny Gruelle, complete with color illustrations which we each read several times. My particular favorite was Raggedy Anne and Andy in Cookie Land. It wasn’t until years later that I learned there are even more in the series than the 5 or 6 that we owned.
Another series my grandmother gave to me as I grew older was the “Grandma’s Attic” books by Arleta Richardson. These were also favorites of mine as a kid. I wish that I had access to the last few in the series (when Mabel teaches school and gets married), but so far I haven’t seen these at book sales. The great thing about these books was reading about an imperfect heroine who learns from her mistakes, and young readers can also develop character growth in learning with her.
When Grandma moved to FL when I was 12, she went through a lot of her belongings and let us pick stuff out to keep before she got rid of them. She also left me her box full of scrapbook pictures. Included in the box of scrapbook pictures were poems that Grandma had enjoyed reading. Most of them were cutsy little rhymes about nature or kitties, etc. from old magazines decades ago. Also In the box was a beautiful red vintage scrapbook that had once belonged to Grandma’s deceased sister. It seems both of the sisters had been interested enough in scrapbooking to have cut out tons of beautiful pictures from calendars, magazines, etc., but they never gotten around to pasting them in a book. This hobby greatly appealed to me! In the days before my family got a computer, I would spend hours cutting and gluing all the pictures that struck my fancy, plus important headlines of the day from the local newspaper. I filled up the red book and started several other volumes of my own. This is an activity I greatly miss now that everything has gone digital. Pinterest is fun, but just not the same. Nothing digital lasts forever.
Grandma was never in great health, even when we were young, so we never did anything hugely momentous or exciting. Instead, I remember that spending time at Grandma’s house meant a quiet place where I could bring along my book (usually a Hardy Boys mystery), plop into an armchair and read all afternoon while the clock on the corner cabinet ticked and chimed like Big Ben. Those types of memories are just as nice as any other. Grandma R. passed away a year ago last September, but these will memories are what I will carry with me always.