The Darwin Exception

because it's not always survival of the fittest – sometimes the idiots get through

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People I *Did* Know – My Grandmother

Posted by thedarwinexception on February 13, 2007

Among all those boxes and boxes of photographs of people I never knew – there are pictures of my actual family members – and people I *did* know, so it’s not a total loss to go through them all. There are a lot of pictures of my maternal grandmother, for instance.

She was always a severe and proper woman, not given to affection or kind words. She had waist length white hair, which family lore says turned snow white right after the birth of the first of her 18 children. And maybe it’s true – I have a lot of pictures of her, some even when she was younger, and she is always sporting the snow white hair. My Aunt used to go over to her house once a week and “put up” my Grandmother’s hair into a twisted and curled bun contraption, a process that involved tons of curlers and tons of bobby pins.

My Grandmother was a seamstress by trade, and worked at a Woman’s Uniform Shop in downtown Burlington for most of her adult life. She was also the President of the local ILGWU chapter.

She taught me to knit and to sew when I was really young, so I am happy about that. Even more than the pictures I have of her – I feel I have something that no one else in my family has – one of her best skills. Although I’ll probably never be as good at sewing or knitting as she was.

Grandma liked to hunt, too. Each year she and my Grandfather would go to their hunting camp in Waterbury, Vermont and stay for a couple weeks to go deer hunting. My grandmother shot both of the deer seen here in the picture.

This is a picture of my Grandmother with her mother just before my great grandmother died. My grandparents had taken in my Grandmother’s mother after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. But note that my great grandmother also had the white hair thing going – I think it’s a shame that I don’t have the same white hair. I could live with white hair – it’s gray hair I hate.

My grandmother is at the far left in this picture – taken at one of the ILGWU functions. It’s a little hard to see, but if you look closely you can see her trademark “big ass” earrings. My grandmother must have had 3,000 pairs of funky earrings – things like seahorses, shells, big sparkly rhinestone encrusted things that are as big as your fist. Earrings with feathers, earrings with peacocks, chandelier earrings, clip on earrings, screw back earrings.

Luckily for me, my Aunt kept them all and so I inherited a huge box full of costume jewelry and earrings. Even more amazing, I actually can remember my grandmother wearing some of them.

This is a picture of my Grandmother in her kitchen – the one place you could always find her. I include it only because of that shelf on the left in the picture. I have that shelf. I don’t use it for spices, as she did – I think it’s much too nice for that. I am going to hang it in the living room/antique room – if it ever gets completed. But I really like the shelf. I’m betting it’s quite old.

So, that’s my maternal Grandmother. One day I’ll get around to introducing you to some of the other members of  my family. We have some pretty interesting characters. My grandfather – who was using a skill saw to build my Uncle a shed – and cut his chest open from the neck down to the groin – then drove himself to the hospital. And my Uncle Ronnie – a prize fighter who died after he asphyxiated himself in a running car, or my Uncle Bill – one of the first people in the country to receive an artificial valve in his heart.

But none of them had the snow white waist length hair.


2 Responses to “People I *Did* Know – My Grandmother”

  1. Bob E. said

    My hat’s off to Grandma: two deer on the fenders of a ’56 Coupe De Ville! They don’t make ’em like that any more (Grandmas and Caddy’s…I think deer are still the same).


  2. Thank You!!! I just *KNEW* someone would be able to identify the car for me – and the year! Posting these is a lot easier than going to my Aunt’s and having her sit there and go “OK, well, I think Joe was born when this happened – but I don’t think Sue was, so that would be between 54 and 60 – but this was when we had the old house, so that would be before 59…..”

    Yup – Just post the picture and some nice guy will come along and say “56 – Coupe de Ville.”

    Thanks Again!


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