I had two grandmas growing up…no grandpas. Both of my grandmothers raised their children as single mothers, when being a single mother wasn’t too common.
Grandma West, my mom’s mother, lived in Orofino. We went to visit her for one week every summer. She was a wonderful grandma and I always loved our yearly visits.
The one I knew better was Grandma Woolum. She lived in Spokane. She was my dad’s mom.
When I think about visiting grandma’s house, there are so many memories that come flooding back. Certain sights, certain sounds, certain smells and certain tastes.
One of the things that I always remembered about Grandma Woolum’s by sight was her chewing Doublemint Chewing Gum. Whenever I see a green package of the Wrigley’s gum, I think of my grandma.
And she usually only chewed half a stick at a time. She would have those 24 stick packs hidden away in a drawer or in her bureau, and you would see how half a stick was still in the paper. I’m not sure why Doublemint was her favorite. I don’t think I ever asked. I never thought to ask. I just knew that was what Grandma liked.
A sound I remember from Grandma’s house was her starburst clock on the wall above her television. It always had a certain buzz at certain times when it moved.
There were so many wonderful smells emitting from Grandma’s house, but one I remember and still love today is when she boiled green beans on the stove with some bacon so we could have them for dinner. They seemed to boil all afternoon. Yum-m-m-m!
I had never heard of “jack cheese” until I went to Grandma’s house. She always kept this white cheese wrapped up in her refrigerator in aluminum foil to keep it fresh. It tasted very different from cheddar or American or Swiss, the cheeses I was used to having at home. Later in life, I learned the correct name was Monterey Jack cheese.
Grandma’s house was always such a safe and nice place to be, because she made it that way. She was always excited to see us, and I was always her “Sugar”.
She lived here in the Silver Valley, living various places like Burke and Wardner and Kellogg. But after a while the “smelter smoke” took its toll on her breathing, and she moved to Spokane. But she did always love to come over and visit us.
She was part of the Silver Valley, and the Silver Valley was a part of her. Hers is a very special Silver Valley story. She is why I am a part of the valley today, and why it runs through my veins.
Thanks, Grandma, for letting my life, and my children’s life, continue your Silver Valley story.