FC: My Grandma | My Grandma
1: To Eileen Rogers, my Grandma
2: My grandma grew up in Topsham, Vermont, in the early 20th century. When she was born, in 1917, they were still using horses, and oxen on their farm. The telephone, she recalls, was a very modern invention, that when it was installed in her home, people came from around the town to see it. When she passed away in 2008, she lived through an era that used horses for transportation, to a man landing on the moon.
3: I was very lucky to have grown up with a woman like my grandma. I've often felt by being with her, was like stepping back into another time. When we stayed with her, on cold winter nights, we were given an warm iron, wrapped in a cloth to sleep with. She never had a central heating system, but what was that to a child? We slipped under the covers of a quilted bed, and nestled with the warm iron until we drifted off to sleep. In the morning, grandma was always already awake, in a cozy warm kitchen. There was water boiling for washing up,and sometimes homemade donuts were being made for breakfast. I'll always remember those mornings smelling like fresh coffee for my granddad, and donuts for us kids. Grandma had a lot of ideas to entertain us. I can still recall the childrens book case, that sat in the living room, beside the square grand piano. Some of those books she had as a girl, and some were from my mom and her sisters when they grew up there. This was our book case, and when we got bored, grandma would say " go get a book, and read" It was quiet out there in Rye, New Hampshire, with an occasional car that went by. Mostly it was the crickets and birds in the summer, and the winds in the winter. I remember being there in Rye, during the summer, and feeling very desolate and alone. There was a chance we would go for the afternoon to Rye Recreation. The other kids of Rye would be there too. It was an activity center that had arts and crafts, games and sports. My grandma would pack me a lunch that mo doubt had appel cider and a deviled ham sandwhich.
4: My grandma was born in 1918, She told me, she remembered seeing veterans from the Civil War.
5: My great grandmother, who we called Grandma Eastman, was a very sharp woman. I remember her only as a frail old woman. I wish I could talk to her now.
6: I remember going to the beach in the summertime with my grandma. It was usually hot, and the ocean was usually very cold. We'd drive through Rye, past the fields, and past the house with a thousand windows ( an old friary in Rye, now gone) and finally to Rye Beach. She had packed a lunch for us.In it was root beer, that was always flat, and deviled ham sandwiches that were warm from the sun, and molasses cookies. The root beer though, I can only drink hers flat, cause that;s how it was best.
7: The Flag was often hanging outside my grandmas front door. She could tell me everyday that a flag should be hung up. When we went on trips to Topsham, the flag came alone with her.It was never a question of patriotism, or even now with which political side was more patriotic than the other, we were just kids that our grandma wanted us to be proud of our flag.
8: My grandfather, who we called Grand Sir Rogers, was the love of my grandmas life.
9: My grandma showed my me a piece of their wedding cake she had saved, the frosting was as hard as plaster, but, the cake was still soft. She said it was a fruitcake.
10: Dogs and cats were a big part of my grandmas life. She loved animals. She always had a dog that she would take walks with down the Brown Orchid in back of her home.Some of her dogs, like Fido, were a little grumpy, maybe because there were small children around, and would tease him.
11: Grand Sir Rogers was a Free Mason, like myself. Grandma told me about the masonic functions she used to attend. The were fancy ball room dances, suppers and picknicks about every weekend. St. Andrews Lodge in Portsmouth N.H was a very social place to be in the 1940s | In 2011, my cousin Felicia brought me an unusual present. She had picked through some picture frames that belonged to my Grandma. In one frame, she discovered Grand Sir Rogers masonic diploma! I had been searching for this for a few years, and thought it was gone forever.
12: The Well, I remember it. It was out back of grandmas house. We were forbidden to go anywhere near it. My grandfather brought me to it one day. He opened the top, and let me look down. It was dark and deep, and at the bottom, I could see the water. He hooked up the bucket, and lowered it down the well. When it was full, he pulled it up, | and took the dipper that was hanging by the side of the well, and filled it. I took a drink of the most coldest, freshest water I had every tried to that point. I remember my grandfather looking at me and smiling. He said something to the idea of, "thats some good water down there" Some time later, I guess my dad climbed down that well, to connect the water line to the great grandmas house, that still had the hand pump in the kitchen. You had to "prime" the pump before, and soon, came a stream of cold fresh water. The well is still there, but, it's been covered by a rock. I was lucky to have seen this, and drank from this.
13: There's a little cabin in Topsham, Vermont. I heard from my grandma that the wood for that cabin came from her childhood home there in Topsham. It was comfortable in that little cabin. There was a stove and a sink in there too. If you were lucky, you could stay in the cabin with grandma during your visit to Topsham. I saw it a couple years ago, the stove is gone, and the walls are collapsing.
14: Grand Sir Rogers once gave me a fifty cent piece. I was maybe six years old at the time. He asked me if I knew what it was, and how much it was. I replied "no".He told me, with that coin I could buy two ice cream cones. This was about 1974 or so. I thought about it, and asked " If I buy two, one will melt while I'm eating the other one". he told me I didn't have to buy two at once. Now it made a whole lot more sense to me. Grand Sir Rogers didn't say much, but to me, he said a a lot that day.
16: My grandma always went to every school play, pageant, graduation and recital. For every three daughters she had, and to every one of her ten grandchildren, and even the nine great grandchildren.
17: I was wandering around my grandmas garage, that was filled with knick knacks. I came across a glass flower vase, and a holder. I asked my grandma what it was, after looking at it for years. She relied that it was from her first car, and it indeed held flowers. She gave it to me, and I may put it in my car too!
19: I still consider myself lucky to have been able to stay in my grandmas house. Grandma and Grand Sir Rogers, moved into the house shortly after they were married. The house was built by yet another family ancestor about 1800. ( I think it was earlier). She told me that the house was vacant for many years, and needed a lot of work before they could move in. I asked why nobody lived there, and she replied "because my mother had a new house next door" She told me a story about a dance that was held there, in the upstairs room, that would later be her bedroom. One of the snacks that was served, was peanuts in the shell. She guessed some of the guests throw some on the floor, and danced on them, and maybe I could still see some in the cracks of the floor boards. There is a small fireplace in that room, and beside it, hung my great grandmothers slate board. I always wanted to try it out, but my grandma didn't allow me too. She thought I might drop it, and break it. So, I just looked at it, and thought of Grandma Eastman using it as a girl, in a one room school house. I didn't ever occur to me, that when I explained this to my class, they had no idea what I was talking about. I guess I came across that this was a common thing, and didn't everyone know about a slate board? That was another event that gave me another link to the past. My grandma spoke of things like that, as if they had just happened, and it was an everyday common subject. I know understand where my appreciation of history came from.
20: Grandmas mother was named Marietta Eastman. I knew her as Grandma Eastman. I remember her, as a little boy, in the last years of her life. Grandma took care of her in her home. I can remember her frail touch, and soft voice. Later, I asked Grandma, and my mother what she was like. She was a woman that put her children ahead of herself, and worked hard her whole life to give her family a good upbringing. I've heard also she was sharp as a tack, and had a very traditional way of New England yankee social protocol. Grandma would quote her from time to time when she needed an answere to a problem. I would have liked to have spoken with her now, as an adult.
21: Grandma liked to travel when she could. She told me of visiting Grand Sir Rogers, during World War Two, to where he was stationed in Colorado.He was a medic there, helping wounded combat veterans during their rehabilitation. | After Grand Sir Rogers passed away in 1982, Grandma traveled a few times to Scotland, and once to Sweden to visit me and my daughter Isabel. She also spent more time back in Vermont, staying with my cousin Elizabeth, and her daughter Maredith in Waitsfield, Vermont.
24: My Grandma loved the Wentworth By the Sea. It was a grand hotel, that echoed back to the days of past. My mother and I brought Grandma out here on Mothers Day, 2007.We sat out on the deck, and she opened her cards. She told me it was a special day when she went to The Wentworth as a girl. Her uncle brought her there, to sip lemonade, on a hot summer day one time, and she closed her eyes, while telling me how it was. For a moment, I could almost saw it too.
25: My mother would pack up my siblings and I to drive an eternity ( what it seemed) to Topsham, Vermont. The childhood home of my Grandma. We knew she was already there, by a flag waving in the summer breeze, on the side of her little cabin. There was always something to do up there. We built small huts, splashed around in the small brooks, and wandered through the woods. Grandma issued us a whistle if we should ever get lost. She told us also, if we did get lost, to find a stone wall, and follow it. More than likely, it will lead to a road. Now thats good sage advise to a pre-GPS kid. I never did get lost back then. I t was when I was in my 30's that I got lost, and ended up walking about ten miles around the town of Topsham, and then back to Gulusha Hill. I should have paid more attention to what Grandma already knew.
26: My grandma had a few old family picture albums. On one of those quiet Rye days, I would ask to look through them with her. She would tell me who was in the pictures, and how I was related to them. It was hard as a child, to look at her in the pictures as a younger woman. I knew her always as "grandma".It was difficult to believe in the images of people and places from long ago to me. I asked her one time if life was in black and white back then? She laughed and said no, it wasn't. I said , " but the pictures are in black and white". She said there was color back then, like in old paintings. It was a concept that, as a child, I didn't understand. But I think she understood what I was talking about, as she always did.
27: There was a square grand piano that stood in the back of my grandmas living room, next to an old empire sofa. On this piano, she had different family pictures. She would place there, pictures of her children and grandchildren on their birthdays. There was one, a tintype, of my great grandma, as a child there too. It was tempting, as a child, to press the piano keys, but grandma didn't like that, and was afraid you would chip the ivory keys. But, she would sit down with you, and take out the key chart, and teach you how to play. I think back now, and how my grandma had taken time for me to teach me music. It must have been a sad day for her, when she gave it away, and an empty spot was where she taught a couple of generations how to make music.
28: My grandma was always nicely dressed, Her hair was always done up just right. I never really thought of it, until my later years, but she lived in the country for her whole life, yet she looked like she was from a big city. On Sunday, she would wear her best for church, whether it was a hot summer or chilly winter. Her casual clothes, were also conservative. I guess it was the times she grew up in, that doesn't excist anymore.It was in my early 20's that I saw grandma, in a pair of jeans!, with sneakers to match. She must have been out hiking.
30: In Rye, it seemed like I had relatives everywhere. When I was a boy, my "aunt" Gladys, who lived next door, would come by for visits. I wasn't sure at the time if she was my aunt, or great aunt, or cousin. My grandma refered everyone as immediate family to her, even though some of them have been dead for maybe a century, thats how she spoke of them. Gladys used to come down with the Sunday paper for grandma and the "funnies" for us "cousins" Some days, we hid from her, pretending nobody was home. I didn't think twice about it as a boy. Later though, I think of what a caring person she was for going out of her way, to do something for me. Gladys passed away years ago, and her home was sold next door. She did have a cool car that was in grandmas garage for a few years after.
31: Grandmas house had a living room that hasn't changed since the house was built in early 1800s. There's a fireplace there, that I'm sure, many people over the generations warmed themselves by in the cold winter months. In my adult years, I found a pair of fireplace tongs. ( the one in the picture, on the right) in her garage. She told me how her and her mother where out walking in Newbury, Vermont, when they came across a house that was falling in. My great grandma, being a thrift yankee, found those tongs in the house. My grandma gave those to me, where they once again, are used in a fireplace, much like this one, in my own home.