Tuesday, August 11, 2009

My Grandma Jewel

What a great day I had yesterday.

My grandma Jewel is nearly 87 years old. September 19th is her birthday. She lives in Palm Desert California most of the year but every summer she comes into to town to escape the horrible desert mid-summer heat and, of course, to visit all of us.

For so long now I have been meaning to and wanting to get over to spend a good chunk of time with my grandma. I wanted to go without kids, without time limits and without anyone else there so I could interview her about her life. I love doing genealogy/family history and I wanted a chance to do some Primary source research.

So yesterday that is just what I did. I got to spend two hours with her all to myself. I came armed with a tape recorder (that didn't end up working), a pencil and a spiral bound notebook. I came away with 9 pages of notes a head full of stories and such a strong love and appreciation for a woman I have always loved but never really knew, at least not like I do now.

I just loved her stories so much that I thought I'd share a few tidbits from her childhood in Seattle, I don't think she'll mind.

Her mother was always sick. As far back as Jewel could ever remember mom was always in bed. They lived in a tiny apartment in Seattle. It was a tri-plex that was owned by Grandma Hughes, she lived in the downstairs unit. One of Jewel's uncles and his family lived in the other unit.

The apartment was tiny. Mom and Dad’s bedroom was a sleeping porch and Jewel could remember sleeping in a crib in the kitchen. But there was room enough for mom’s grand piano. When she was feeling well enough mom would come out and play the piano dressed in a beautiful long silk Kimono. Jewel would lay under the piano while mom played.
As a girl Jewel had a beautiful Effenbee Doll.She had received it from her dad for Christmas or a birthday. She liked dolls ok but what she really wanted was a dog.One day she decided to pretend her doll was a dog.She put a leash on the doll and took it for a walk.She walked all the way to her Uncle Buds work at the Junction fruit and vegetable market 3 or 4 blocks from the house.She dragged the beautiful doll all the way there scratching and scraping the dolls beautiful face and tearing and dirtying the lovely clothes.Uncle Bud was very good to her and kind.He asked for permission and left work to take her home.She was 3 years old.
Dad would occasionally make beer in the bathtub.These were the days of prohibition so it was a big deal that this beer was to stay hidden.One day Jewel went in to take a bath but the tub was full of beer and she didn’t know what to do.She had to wait for her dad and uncles to bottle the beer and put it all away up in a kitchen cupboard where it could be hidden.
Mom always used to put her rings on the window sill while she did the dishes.One day she forgot to put them back on and only realized it later that afternoon.When she went back to put them on they were gone.She was frantically looking for them when dad got home and he called the police. The police searched the tiny apartment and all the cupboards and couldn’t find the ring either but they did find the beer.They kindly shut the door and continued their search for the ring in other cupboards.When Mom's sister, Helene, saw the commotion at the apartment (she lived down the street) she came to help and “miraculously” found the rings on a shelf in the kitchen.When she did that everyone knew that Aunt Helene had taken the rings as a joke—a very bad joke.

When Jewel started school her mom would meet her out on the corner as she was walking home. She had been in school less than a month when mom was put into the West Seattle General Hospital. She was very soon thereafter put into a Sanitarium at which point Jewel started getting moved from relative to relative so her dad could continue working.

Because of Grandma Hughes work schedule she was not home when Jewel came home from school but she’d always leave an orange on the counter for Jewel to eat. She insisted that the first thing Jewel should do everyday after school was to come in, sit down, peel the orange and eat the whole thing.
I can't wait to go back and hear more.

1 comment:

  1. That is priceless. Thanks for sharing your Grandma Jewels stories with us. I LOVE to hear stories like that!


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