It is time once again for Flashback Friday with Linda of Mocha With Linda. This is the meme that takes us back in time. In Linda’s own words:
This meme’s purpose is to have us take a look back and share about a specific time or event in our lives. It will be fun to see how similar – or different – our experiences have been!.
I managed to miss two of Linda’s Flashback Fridays. One asked about the adults from our childhood, the other asked about where we lived. I am going to mix the two together and tell you about my Gram, who raised me, and her little red shingle-sided house.
These are my maternal grandparents, Jesse & Minnie Weniger. The photo was taken in March of 1965. I have no idea who held the camera. Not too long after this, my grandfather died.
If you look just behind my grandmother to the left, you can see my pogo stick where I dropped it on the lawn. I must have planned to go back to playing with it when the grownups got off the sidewalk, otherwise I would have put it in the garage or on the covered front porch.
My grandmother was a remarkable woman. An influenza epidemic in the early 1900s took her father’s life, leaving the family destitute. Despite the fact that she never quite emotionally recovered from the ordeal, Gram’s mother remarried a widower with very young children. Because of the state of my great grandmother’s health, Gram pretty much raised her step-brothers and sisters.
Gram married my grandfather not to long after he returned home from WWI. My grandparents met and courted in North Dakota. They often went to the local dances. The band they often danced to was lead by a young Lawrence Welk.
Grandpa’s job with the railroad offered him a land grant if he would move to Northern Idaho and help put in the rails. The newlyweds moved. Once the rails were built, my grandfather was out of a job, but they had the farm. My grandmother, despite having children of her own at this point, took the job of teacher in the one room school house at Kid Island Bay. She not only taught her own children, my eldest sister attended that school in the first grade!
Gram had seven children, five of whom lived to adulthood; however, both my mother and my Aunt Dori passed away in their early 30s. Aunt Dori died first, leaving a grief-stricken husband and young daughter behind. Gram took them in and they lived with her for several months before Uncle Bud could bear the thought of returning to his own home.
When my mother became ill, my grandparents left their house in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho (Grandpa had gone blind and they’d sold the farm to their eldest son) and moved to Spokane, Washington to live with my parents. Dad worked and Gram helped with the house and all of us kids (Jean, Jackie, Caryl, Harold & I).
And then my mother died. Gram wasn’t given much time to mourn. She had grandchildren to take care of, and she did. Tho youngest (me) was only 3 years old. Gram was 52 years old and raising her 4th family.
There were other families, too. Gram worked most of her life as a caretaker. After the school system let her go (no education degree) she took jobs with several different families as housekeeper and nanny. She also taught Sunday School for 40+ years and mentored the young mothers in the church.
When Gram died the funeral home was filled to capacity and so was the lawn. The mailman brought the cards and letters to the house in big white gunny sacks. I remember three of them stacked by the back door in the kitchen. I was just 18 years old.
When I went to live with my grandparents in Coeur d’Alene, they lived in a little red house with shingle siding. My grandfather had a talent for woodworking and he put in the kitchen counters himself. My grandmother was 4’8″ tall and my grandfather was just 5″ tall. Those custom counters were made to fit them. The cupboards above the counters extended to the ceiling, and Gram kept a bright red step stool in the kitcehn so she could climb up to get whatever she needed. When she wasn’t using the step stool I was usually perched on top of it watching her cook.
When I was six my friend Cathy and I inadvertently started a fire in the backyard. It got so hot and so close to the house that many of the shingles were roasted beyond redemption even though they didn’t “officially” catch fire. Gram had the house resided with aluminum. The only color available way back then was white, so the house is white to this day. I wish I had a picture of it to show you.