Grandmothers are very special people.
Experienced parents themselves, their skills are all in order, and they are old enough to have become wise along the way.
Both of my grandmothers were exceptional women – each in their own way.
Forced by the circumstances in which they found themselves to work outside of their homes well before such was the norm, they both chose to make the best of it and outshined those around them.
To say that both were successful, given the times, would be an understatement, and yet, they remained very different people.
My paternal grandmother was born and raised in England, where she had been trained as a seamstress before she entered this country through Ellis Island along with countless others.
Except for a brief period during World War II, my maternal grandmother never lived anywhere beyond the small town in Indiana where I was born.
Despite their differences in background, temperament, and personality, they shared two common qualities. They both crocheted, and they both were excellent cooks.
Maybe that’s the reason food and I have always been good friends.
During my early childhood, our young family shared a duplex with my paternal grandmother and a great-aunt.
My sister and I delighted in visits to their side of the double, as we called it, where we thought ourselves to be quite adult as we munched on homemade oatmeal raisin cookies, consumed small bowls of stewed prunes, and drank cups of tea laced with cream and sugar.
Sunday dinner at this grandmother’s revolved around roast beef and Yorkshire pudding – the latter puffed and browned and crisp at the edges – both drizzled with plenty of rich, flavorful gravy.
My maternal grandmother was all small town Midwest.
Her house was placed in a corner of a large, double lot, behind which the railroad tracks lay.
This expanse of grass was the only place where we were allowed to go barefoot, and if we were good, we could sit on a worn quilt beneath the large maple at the back of the lot and count the cars as the trains chugged by – to us a special treat.
Grandma’s house had an unheated room on the back that was known by one and all as the back porch.
Whenever we arrived for a visit, a pot of chili greeted us from the stove, but we barely paused to acknowledge it, knowing full well that the ironing board on the back porch held the mother load.
Spread along its cotton-covered surface was a smorgasbord of homemade desserts – pies, cakes, cookies, and various bars vied for position, occasionally spreading onto a battle-worn Hoosier kitchen.
This grandmother was the Queen of the Pressure Cooker – an object we had been taught to fear.
Her chuck roasts served with mounds of homemade noodles and a side of green beans were legendary.
Some of my most vivid childhood memories revolve around our family journeying from one of their homes to the other.
Often we left Ohio on a Friday evening and headed towards Indiana after my father returned from work.
My younger sister would sleep on the backseat of our powder blue, ’51 Pontiac, while I stood vigil behind my father – barely tall enough to see over his shoulder, fixated on the eerie nighttime landscape revealed by the car’s headlights as it rushed by.
Today Annie Acorn Publishing uploaded onto Amazon my latest ebook titled, On the Road… – a jewel that draws upon these beloved childhood memories.
Perhaps, it will remind you of long forgotten trips to your grandmother’s house as well.