My Two Grandmothers

To kick off National Poetry Month, my sister recently posted on her blog about our two grandmothers and shared a poem called "Lineage" by Margaret Walker.  You can see the post here.

It got me thinking about my two grandmothers, and my memories I have of each of them.

Grandma Woolum was my dad's mom.  She lived the closest, in Spokane, Washington.  We would often drive the 80 miles to Spokane to visit her.  We probably saw her every other month or so while we were growing up.

Grandma lived on Bridgeport Avenue in Spokane.  She loved to garden both flowers and vegetables.

When she was little, she had some kind of falling accident, and had a hunchback.  But you didn't really care or even notice that often, because she was your grandma, and you loved her.

Grandma Woolum had a woodburning stove in her kitchen.  But instead of burning wood, she burned presto logs, which consisted of sawdusts pressed into logs.

Grandma kept her cheese wrapped in foil in her fridge.  She often made banana bread.  She would cook green beans on the stove with bacon and bacon grease.  She made delicious fried chicken.

She had a very small bathroom off the kitchen that smelled of Listerine.

She chewed Wrigley's Doublemint gum, and usually only half a stick.

She was a Gold Star Mother because her son, my Uncle Bill, died in World War II while serving in the Navy.

She lived in Kellogg for quite a while until the Smelter Smoke started bothering her breathing and lungs, and she had to move to Spokane.

I was her "Sugar". 

She had an apartment on the second floor of her house.  Sometimes the apartment had renters.  Sometimes it was not rented, and I could go play on the second floor.

Grandma's husband Lance, my Grandpa Woolum, left my grandma when my dad was about five or so.  I'm not sure if they ever divorced, but they were never together again.  Grandpa Woolum died in 1941 in Pineville, Kentucky.  My dad or grandma never spoke of Grandpa Woolum.  I think my dad was very resentful of his father taking off when he was so young. 

Being a woman in the early 1900's with no husband was much more rare than it is today.  Grandma Woolum did not live with a husband from about 1935 on.

My other grandma, Grandma West, was in the same boat.  Her husband Harry left their family when Mom was about five years old as well, and Mom was raised by my Grandma West, and did not have much contact with her father growing up.  The only thing I knew about my Grandpa West was that he lived in Mexico and had remarried.  He would often send a card at Christmas.  Mom didn't talk about him much.

I remember at some point growing up realizing both my parent's mothers were single mothers raising a family on their own, which is quite remarkable in the 1930's and 1940's.  I never met either grandfather on either side of the family.

Grandma West live in Orofino, Idaho.  Every summer we would travel to Orofino, as my dad would have a week's vacation.  While there, I would usually spend time on my Grandma West's piano.  Actually, my mom always pointed out that the piano was hers, but they did not have enough room at their home in Kellogg to have it a part of our household. 

Grandma West was also a gardener, both flowers and vegetables.  Some things I remember about Grandma West's house was the drop leaf table in her kitchen, and the cookie jar.  She had a basement which contained a large chest freezer where the ice cream was located.

Some of the taste's from Grandma West's house include eating cucumbers covered in a dressing of real cream and vinegar.  Corn on the cob was usually on the menu.

I remember when we would arrive in Orofino, Grandma West would often be sitting in her rocking chair in the window when we arrived at her house.

My mom started smoking while she was still in high school, I think.  Grandma West made it clear she did not want to see my mom smoke, so whenever we visited, Mom would have to hide her smoking so grandma couldn't hear it.

I had two very special grandmothers who raised to families on their own, and were wonderful and loving to my brother, sister and myself.

What a blessing and inspiration they both were to my life.

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