|Grama's Gay Fad Cookie Jar|
I was blessed to be the 'FIRST' grandchild to my paternal grandparents. My grandmother was raised by German immigrant parents on a farm in southern Minnesota. She loved to tell stories and my favorite was the one about how her parents had met. Her mother Henrietta was 16 years old and walked past a farmer out in the fields working. Henry said to the young girl, " You're too old to go to school. You should be keeping house for somebody" To that, Henrietta replied, "You ask me and I'll come and keep house for you." Well you know what happened. Henry and Henrietta married and had a herd of kids: Ora, Ida, Cora, Clara and Anna were the girls names. Otto, Henry, known as Hank, and Arnie were the boys.
At Grama's house we played simple games that she had learned as a child; 'Hide the Thimble", checkers and card games were on the agenda. Sorting her button tin however was always great fun. Grandkids were also given pans of water and large paint brushes to 'paint' the cement floor in the basement. Grama took grandkids to the park by the river where my favorite thing to do was feeding the ducks. Grama had a source of constant entertainment: she worked in the bakery and old bread meant free fun for grandchildren.
After her day at work which started at 6:00 a.m. at Sterling Pastries, Grama would come and pick me up from the babysitter. Off we went to her house where another ritual from childhood rests fondly in my memories. She would "sprinkle" the clothes with an old 7Up bottle filled with water. Clothes were rolled and put in a bag for ironing later.
Grama took me to the bakery where she was the cake decorator. Standing beside the huge stainless steel table, I was perched on a box next to her watching flowers emerge from decorating tubes filled with white, pink and pastel green frostings. Grama could rotate the lazy Susan half a turn, add six flowers in a minute and finish the entire cake in ten minutes. To this day I can't walk past a bakery without breathing in that aroma of flour, sugar and deep fryers without remembering the visits to Grama's bakery.
After work there was another tradition while visiting Little Grama's house, we drank our coffee. I was four years old, my cup which undoubtedly was 90% milk made me feel so grown up. Grama drank her coffee black and watched General Hospital. I didn't actually drink coffee again until I was 35 years old. In 2012 Little Grama would have been 100 years old; she 'wore out' at 95. She always said, "I'd rather wear out than rust out." She got her wish.
It wasn't until I became a grandma that I realized how lucky I was to have been her first grandchild. There is something magic about the first one.