ęPrecious Memories Of My Grandma
I received a story not too long ago by email; it was an ode to the lengths women in the history of America were forced
to go to keep their families clothes clean and washed. When the story got to
the part where women finally had the luxury of the old wringer type washing machines, well, my memories took me back to my
grandma’s back porch in Monte Vista, Colorado. Monte Vista is located in
the San Luis Valley of Colorado. B.J. Ervin-Weymouth
Grandma’s back porch was quite large
and wonderful it was always bright with lots of light. The light would filter
in from her large back yard. Her back porch was enclosed and had several large
windows. These windows provided the perfect view of grandma’s beautiful
flowers and large vegetable garden. She used her back porch for many different
activities and projects. One I remember vividly is Grandma making homemade chunk
pickles, My-Oh-My, they were the best pickles I had ever tasted. She would can
them in pint size canning jars and store them on the shelves of her pantry. We
would have these wonderful homemade pickles when we would go on our many picnics. I
always looked forward to going on picnics when visiting Grandma’s house and getting to eat some of her delicious pickles.
Grandma also had an in-door clothesline
on her back porch, usually there were flowers from her garden that she was drying for bouquets and arrangements. I remember one of the things that I could always find hanging on the clothesline and this was her sunbonnet.
Now, as I’m writing this story
I am looking back to a time when my Grandma would be sitting on her stool in her backyard, cleaning the fresh vegetables she
had picked from her garden that day and she would always be wearing her sunbonnet. She
looked just like the photos of the women you’ve seen crossing the prairies by covered wagon. They always wore a sunbonnet to protect their skin from the harshness of the many hours of walking in the
sunlight, day after day as they crossed the prairies making their way out west.
Sunbonnets are designed with a visor portion
to protect you face from the sun and also a flap of fabric hanging down to cover the back of your neck, they were always tied
in a bow under your chin. I remember my grandma’s sunbonnets well. I remember because I have kept that special memory of her in my heart over the years. Her sunbonnets were a nice blue or red checked gingham plaid or a soft floral pattern
some even had a lace trim. As my thoughts are traveling back to this time, I
feel very warm inside recalling these wonderful precious memories of my Grandma. These
times were precious and few as we lived in California and Grandma and Grandpa in Colorado.
I also remember all the wonderful
dinners Grandma would cook. She would load the table down with the best food
you ever tasted all homemade and fixed just right! I remember the presentation
of the food was always wonderful too.
I also remember polishing Grandma’s
1847 Roger’s Silverware for Thanksgiving dinner. She was so proud of her
silverware. Momma had purchased the silver for her, one place setting at a time,
during hard times. I now have my grandma’s silver and I can’t bring myself to use it; I hope to have a reason
Having things as nice as they could be
was always important to my Grandma. I remember Momma telling me when she was
growing up that grandma would embroidery cotton flour sacks when they were emptied and make place mats for the table. Sometimes she would even piece them together to make pretty table clothes. You see, there was no extra money for store bought extras (as they said in those times), but Grandma always
said just because you don't have much money doesn’t mean you can’t make things look pretty and she always did.
She always insisted on everything being clean, including her children.
Now, Grandma’s need for cleanliness
brings me to the memory of her bright white, Maytag “wringer washing machine”. It was kept on her back porch along
with the other wonderful things I’ve mentioned. I remember how proud grandma
was of that wringer washing machine. She told me many stories of how she used
to wash the families clothes in two tubs of water, one to wash and one to rinse. The
wash and rinse water was heated by a wood fire outside in the yard. She would
place and old fashioned rubbing board in one of the tubs and add some homemade lye soap (yep, homemade soap) and she would
begin rubbing the clothes on the board. She was washing clothes for a family
of eight children, sometimes at the end of the washing her hands and knuckles would crack abd bleed. Grandma would then have
to put the clothes in the next tub of hot water to rinse and wring them by hand. I
can only imagine the pain my grandma’s hands must have felt. Momma said their was never a complaint from Grandma, she
just took it all in stride and would then go cook a big dinner for the family. You
see, my Grandma was one of the, “Good Ol’ Girls”.
My grandma also loved to fish. Her favorite thing to do was to go down on Beaver Creek near, MonteVista, Colorado
and fish for trout with her best friend, Ma Miller. Ma owned and operated the
local diner, it was called, Ma’s Place. I never got to go fishing with
Grandma and Ma Miller, but she would write us and tell us all about her fishing trips.
I remember my Daddy saying, he could just smell and taste those fresh trout frying on the stove.
I did get to visit Beaver Creek, and I
do remember the water being cold as ice. Grandma said she would catch her limit
and then put them on a line and keep them in the cold water till her and Ma were ready to head for home.
Grandmas and Grandpa’s are
such a vital connection in a child’s life. My memories of them; I will
keep in my heart forever.
ęCopyright, Barbara J. Ervin-Weymouth,
March 3, 2005, «All Rights Reserved