My maternal grandma, Clara, and I were super close and always had been. It started way back when I was little. This is probably one of my favorite pictures of her and I. She passed away a few years ago and still today that is a very deep wound in my heart. But I look back on all the wonderful times we had together and I can’t help but smile through the tears.
When my grandpa D died in 1985 he left my grandma a young widow at 55. We lived a mile down the road from her so many days were spent with Grandma. We’d play basketball, badminton, and cards. Oh boy did we play cards. But some of my favorite memories were of when we’d go check cows in the evenings. She’s stop by our house on the way to the “west” pasture to take Mildred and I with her. We’d count cows and calves then drive around the pasture looking at things and checking fence. There was a creek running through that pasture and we’d stop and to see what fish, turtles and other wildlife we could see. I think because of the late evenings drives we’d take with her is why I love putzing around the back roads with TNT now. I can still remember spitting sunflower seeds out of the window and listening to the Royals on the AM radio. Her old Ford only had AM.
Because we were weird kids we’d hang whips out the window and let them drag on the ground. Easy way to rip off your arm, but hey it was fun! I always got the window seat so Mildred would have to hang her whip out gma’s window. Now this was back when seat belts were grandma’s arm and standing beside her on the seat was completely acceptable. That one summer the sunflowers grew really tall along the road so we’d pretend we were in a parade and we’d wave at our fans. Yes we were those weird farm kids!
After we moved to town I spent almost every weekend and during the summer with both sides of grandparent(s). Staying with Grandma Clara was the best. We’d feed cows in the morning, eat homemade long johns for breakfast. Then we’d watch TV (only 2 channels), lunch she’d make steak fingers or sandwiches. After lunch we’d watch the Bold and the Beautiful, As the World Turns and finally the Guiding Light. I knew all the gossip on those soaps. Late afternoons its was Oprah then out to feed the cows again. She’d fix a big meal for supper.
We didn’t do a whole lot when we stayed with her, but the funny thing is the best times were just sitting around together. Just sitting at the kitchen table her on the north side, Mildred on the west and me on the south watching TV or playing cards. The seam in the table was between Grandma and I. Grandma’s nails were thick and she could grow them long. Well she’d strum her nails across the seam of the table. I can still hear that noise. If it was nice the front door would be open and we’d all look out towards St. Peter. Late afternoons my Uncle would stop by to check on the cows and to see Grandma. We always loved this time of the day because making my uncle laugh is the best. His laugh is so funny. He really gets into a laugh and knee slaps! Even as a little kid I could always make him laugh.
After checking cows in the evening we’d bathe and watch more TV. We had two choices for snacks; popcorn or ice cream. Now my grandma was very tight with her money, but when it came to ice cream she didn’t bat an eye when she’s pay the bill for Schwan’s. She LOVED her ice cream. Her tool of choice to dish out ice cream was this shown below. The one she had was from the Coop. I was so excited when I moved in with TNT and he had one too. Nothing dishes out ice cream better than this.
Our second choice for snack was popcorn. Let me tell you she made the best popcorn. She would pop it in a pan then transfer it to a brown paper bag. Once the bag was full she’d melt real butter and pour over the top. Shake it up real good then divide it up into the gallon ice cream containers. She’d have 4 or 5 of those full and we’d munch on popcorn all the time. I’m a popcorn lover to this day and it never tastes as good as what Grandma made. It was nothing for three of us to eat one of those ice cream tubs a day of popcorn.