Monday, October 14, 2013

Memories of Grandmother Simon

When I was a little girl during the 50’s the word bored was not a part of our vocabulary.  Mom didn’t put up with me or my siblings sitting around the house and complaining.  She always told us there was plenty to do. If we complained, we got chores. Mostly, though, we went outside to play. We had active imaginations; playing Hide and Seek, Tag, and other games.    

Often my cousins, who lived next door and my siblings would all play together. One of our favorite places was at our maternal Grandmother’s house. She, like us, lived on the edge of town and her house was the last one on the hill across from ours, next to a big field of alfalfa.  From here house, I could see our house across the football field and beyond from that vantage point and it seemed like the edge of the world.


Another place we kids liked to play was near the town water tank near Grandmother’s house. It was a big round brick building surrounded by trees, long grasses, and thorny bushes and very mysterious to explore. We never figured out how to get inside it but were satisfied to play near it.  For some reason there was a feeling that we weren’t supposed to be there, although I don’t think any of the adults told us we couldn’t.
There was a vegetable garden beside the house. Sometimes I got some one on one time with Grandmother, and we would sit on her front porch, shelling peas or snapping string beans. I also remember her beautiful irises, her snowball bush, and her lilacs. Ah yes, those hot summer afternoons were the best. 
Grandma loved to watch Gunsmoke.  She had her little routine each day.  She napped every afternoon.  At some point she walked to her neighbor’s to get the newspaper. All of us kids were afraid of the neighborhood lady. She was such a stern lady, and I don’t think she liked kids.
 Grandma Simon crocheted.  She made tablecloths and so many doilies.  I was so amazed at how quickly these were created and how many patterns she knew. She tried to teach me once, when I was a girl, but I just didn’t get the hang of it.  I didn’t inherit the knack for handcrafts.  She used to make special doilies for the back of Grandpa’s easy chair so that he would leave oily marks from his head.  She also put them on the arms of the easy chair and the sofa. I have some of my grandmother’s doilies, which my mother has given me.  I treasure them.
Grandmother Simon was a widow for l7 years. Grandpa died when I was 10.  She did very well on her own. We are a close family, and two of her daughters lived close by and I think that helped a lot.



I watched her hang laundry as I sat on a tire swing in the back yard near the barn.  I can still picture her among the clean, wet garments as she patiently attached them one by one to the lines with the wooden clothespins. She had one of those hanging bags where she kept her clothespins. There is nothing like the fresh scent of sheets that have hung outside to dry.

Grandma had a wringer washer in the bathroom of her house.  It was fascinating to watch the clothes as they churned and churned in the washer tub.  The highlight was when she put the wet clothes through the wringer. She always warned us not to keep our fingers back and not to put anything else through.  There was a big bathtub with clawed feet in that bathroom.   I loved to take baths there, except for Grandmother would throw a handful of Tide laundry soap into the water, which would make the tub really slippery an. I guess she wanted to make sure I was clean.Grandma’s rocking chair was a beautiful wooden chair.  She would rock me to sleep on occasion and I loved it.  I used to think about her when I rocked my own young grandsons to sleep.  I felt like she was with me.



Grandma wore an apron every day, a bib apron with big pockets. She had work aprons and dress aprons.  She also carried around a hanky stuffed in the sleeve of her dress.  She pulled out the hanky at the slightest hint of a runny nose, not the least bit hesitant to tell us to blow.  Now I am thinking that may have not been that sanitary, as she sometimes had several of us grandkids around at one time.  We survived, so it must not have hurt us.
           
I loved going upstairs and lay on top of the bed on a quilt. Grandma’s quilts were patchwork, made of various pieces of old clothing and pieces of wool. The quilts were hand stitched, heavy, and very scratchy.