This card was from 1980 and the note on the back refers to Dean and my trip to the Chetek cabin for our first vacation together. By this time Grandma had moved in with John in his trailer in Plano, Illinois.
This next card was probably from 1983 because I spent a few days with my Grandma and her partner, John, on my way from Pittsburgh to Elgin to drop off the cats for some reason or another — maybe Dean and I went to San Francisco that year? It was not the most direct of routes, but it enabled me to see her in her home. I think it was the only time I went to Plano, Illinois to visit her and John.
Sometime after 1981 I drove from Pittsburgh to Shorewood, Illinois to spend a few days with my Grandma Green, then drove up to Elgin to spend time with my parents. I brought my cat, Cinder.
While with Grandma we reminisced about old times and ate Kraft Macaroni and Cheese (R) with tuna fish. We also played cribbage and drank banana milkshakes like we used to do when I’d visit her in Chetek.
She sent me this card for my birthday that year with the following message:
It was so nice to have you with me for just those few days.
I am sorry, but gift will not be ready for your birthday. How about for Christmas?
Having a bit of trouble finding the right kind of fabric.
I am not positive what she means by material. I don’t recall her making anything for me for my birthday or Christmas.
I was 24 and had recently gotten back together with my husband-to-be. We spent a week in Chetek, Wisconsin, my grandmother’s house/cabin — she was living in Illinois at the time. For my birthday she sent me this card with the message on the back:
Hope you enjoyed yourself in the quiet of the lake, squirrels, birds and bees. ((it was what the British call a “naughty getaway” so I wonder if the birds and bees comment was intentional))
Even though you have been gone a long time I still feel guilty every time I think about breaking Grandpa’s tall beer glass with the mirror (and breaking the mirror too) when I tugged too hard on the stuck drawer of the chest of drawers in your bedroom the summer after Grandpa died and I spent a few weeks with you in Chetek.
I don’t think of it often, only when I see a very tall beer glass like the one to the left or when I hear about one like the one I am reading about in Charlotte Gray, one of my “read-a-shelf” books. I may also think about it when I struggle to open a dresser drawer or see a broken mirror too. I know I thought about it when Clare did something similar with a case holding all of my glass unicorns.
Here’s what happened. I needed something out of the chest of drawers (notice I am calling it a “chest of drawers” like you used to call it) and the drawer which held that something was swollen and stuck fast to the rest of the dresser. I shook the drawer which made the mirror that was tilted at the back of the dresser tip forward onto the very tall beer glass in its wooden stand. They both fell down, shattering the beer glass and breaking the mirror.
When you heard the crash you came running into the bedroom. I believe you said “shit” or some other colorful word. You also mentioned how much Grandpa liked his very tall beer glass. You were momentarily angry at me, but I think you understood it was an accident. I don’t remember if I cried or not. I was 17 years old, so I may have. I probably said something about it being an accident and you may have said I should have been more careful.
We cleaned it up and never spoke of it again. I meant to buy you a mirror to replace the mirror I broke, but never did. I don’t know that I ever apologized for breaking the mirror and very tall beer glass.
Grandma, I am sorry I broke the mirror, but more sorry about the beer glass since it was Grandpa’s and it was something he really liked. You’d just lost him, now you lost something he treasured. As a 17 year old I don’t think that registered with me. I only thought about you being upset with me. I know you forgave me long ago, but I just wanted to get it out in the open.
Today marks the 100th anniversary of my Grandma Green’s birth. I’ll celebrate by making macaroni & cheese and tuna fish for dinner because we discovered that taste treat together when I stayed with her in Chetek, Wisconsin one summer. I’ll also make banana milkshakes because she and I used to drink those and play cribbage. I’m not sure cribbage is in the plan for tonight, but you never know.
My Grandma (Lois Elizabeth Koeser — or Elizabeth Lois Koeser — depending on who you believe) Green was born 99 years ago today. She was an unusual grandmother — I remember my brother saying something like, “Grandma doesn’t act like a grandma. She skips!” And he was telling the truth. She skipped (and sang about skipping) and did a lot of other things other grandmothers normally didn’t do when I was a kid.
She once told me about dancing the Charleston (and tried to teach me the steps) and going to speakeasys (speakeasies?) with my Grandfather.
On her birthday I cannot help thinking about her, remembering our times together and hoping that when I’m a grandmother (wait, she already was a grandmother several times over at my age) I hope I’m as fun to be around as she was.
She moved on to the next adventure in the late 1980’s. I was lucky to be around her during her final days.
Here she is in at a more traditional time — dressed up, ready to go out.
On Christmas 1971 my grandparents were given a tape recorder. They lived about 7 hours away from the rest of their family and used the tape recorder to send greetings to their children and their families. Here is one we received February 1972.