Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Lilian première rencontre avec Elisabeth

En 1939, j’avais 5 ans, mes parents devaient partir en ville pour trouver du travail. Un jour, ma mère me dit : ‘’ on va rencontrer ta grand maman ’’. Je ne la connaissais pas. Nous avons marché jusqu’à la gare, nous sommes arrivées juste au moment où un train sifflait son arrivée. Une grande dame (elle me paraissait grande à ce moment là),toute vêtue de noir apparu à la porte, elle nous invita à monter, une fois dans le train, ma mère me dit : ‘’attends un moment avec ta grand-maman, je vais vite te chercher la poupée que tu voulais tellement et je reviens…’’ Quelques instants et de gros soupirs passent. Le train s’ébranle, il commence à partir. Je crie “MAMAN”, mais elle ne vient pas. Alors ma grand mère Elisabeth m’explique qu’elle va m’emmener chez elle, que j’allais aimer, que nous serons dans une ferme, il y aura des animaux… Je n’entends plus rien et je pleure, je pleure pendant des heures.
Arrivées à Madiswil, après une longue marche nous arrivons à la ferme, je suis inconsolable, Elisabeth me nourrit, je repousse l’assiette encore en pleurs. Plus tard lorsque je suis au lit ma grand-maman dépose un petit panier a mes côtés, un panier plein de petits poussins, j’esquisse un premier sourire, quelques larmes encore, mais un sourire.
Je suis restée avec celle qui est devenue ma grand-mère préférée pendant presque six ans.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Georgie Price Heatwole Schaff (Granny) & William Douglas Schaff (Pie) By Suzie

I grew up in Michigan and after high school graduation we relocated to Pennsylvania where my grandparents, Georgie and Bill Schaff, lived. We called them Granny and Pie. Soon after the move, they took me to see their childhood homes.We drove to Virginia in their powder blue Cadillac – the only car that would be big enough to house my grandfather’s 6’3” frame, and strong enough to protect his precious cargo: my 5 foot tall grandmother.
We stopped at a local restaurant for REAL Virginia ham, evidently, also part of my heritage. Sitting there, chatting about the people and places we'd seen that day, flavored with stories of times long past, suddenly my grandfather stood up and walked around the table to my grandmother. He leaned his towering frame over her, cradled her face in his hand, and planted a big ole kiss on her face.
"You are so beautiful! I just couldn't sit across from you one more minute!"
On the way home it started to rain and Pie asked me to drive. I was so honored to be trusted and given the care of his most prized cargo, my grandmother.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Augusta Johnson by Wayne R. Johnson This story was introduced to me by Augusta’s grand son Robb Johnson

It happened in late summer, probably in 1886, her first year on the plains.
It was midafternoon. Augusta was baking bread. Her husband, John, had hitched the team to the wagon and gone into town. Augusta's two youngest babies were napping. The eldest, Aaron, was somewhere in the sod house, toddling about. Suddenly Augusta's scalp prickled. Her stomach knotted. Aaron! Where was Aaron? She looked for him. He was right there, behind her. He was looking at the doorway.
In the doorway stood an Indian. He was rather tall, lean, and almost naked. His hair was long, loose, blowing in the wind, sweeping his shoulders. It was stringy hair, matted with dirt and dried blood. There was dirt and dried blood allover his arms, chest, ribs and legs. Scrapes and deep scratches were clotted, starting to scab.
The Indian stepped through the doorway. He indicated, without speaking, that he was hungry. His squinting black eyes were hot with little fires.A savage. He had to be pacified.
Struggling to control her paralyzing fear, Augusta turned to the table, where loaves of bread were cooling. She tried to cut a slice of bread. The knife would not work. She was trembling too much. And the bread was too fresh to cut. She tore off a chunk, started to hand it to the Indian, then threw it. The Indian caught it, crammed it into his mouth, and gestured for more. While chewing the bread, some of the nervous tension seemed to leave him. He squatted on his heels, near the doorway, with his back to the wall, waiting for more bread.
The familiar domestic act of wielding the knife against the bread had helped Augusta. Her mind began to work again. Here was a hungry man. Nothing but a hungry man, she told herself. What did she have on hand, to fix quickly for a hungr man? Eggs. She put the skillet on the hot stove and fried three eggs.
As she worked, she kept glancing at the Indian. His eyes were fixed on Aaron, who was clinging to her skirt. Did the Indian want Aaron? Her fear rose again. She picked up the baby and propped him on her hip while she worked. She would be dead before the Indian·got his hands on Aaron. But maybe if she fed the Indian well, he would be happy, maybe he would not take Aaron.
Augusta dumped the eggs on a plate, added a chunk of fresh bread, and gave the plate with a fork to the Indian. Disdaining the fork, the Indian disposed of the eggs and the bread in a few gulps and wanted more. He ate all the eggs she had in the house, and also a loaf of bread.
Hunger appeased, the Indian came out of his squat. He stretched, stood tall and straight. He stepped toward Augusta and slowly extended his right hand. Paralysis again gripped her. This was it. Now the Indian was going to take Aaron. She watched the Indian's hand coming. It was a filthy hand, stained with grease and egg yolk as well as with soil and old blood.
Aaron's hair was baby-fair and typically Scandanavian, softly shining. The Indian put his hand on the hair. Then he turned quickly and was gone.
By the time Augusta recovered and went to the doorway to look, the Indian was passing out of sight, over the low rise west of the house. He was running northwestward, in a beeline toward plum Creek canyon.
When John came home and was told about the Indian, he stripped the harness from one of his horses, mounted bare-back and went galloping to alert the neighbors. A posse was assembled immediately, but the fall of night soon ended the search.
For several days afterward, the men carried guns as they worked in the fields, and there was a lot of talk about Indians. Augusta thought her guest had been in a fight, but no one had heard of any Indian fights anywhere in the region, and all of the Indians were supposed to be safely policed on reservations. It was decided that Augusta's Indian had strayed from a reservation and had become the victim of an accident of some kind. Perhaps he had been riding in the canyons. Perhaps his horse had fallen with him, down a canyon bank. Such a thing might account for all the bloody scrapes and scratches. Thus the men talked themselves back into complacency. They soon stopped carrying guns.
Sometime during the following year, John looked up from his plowing one day and saw a strange procession on the trail: Three horses, evenly spaced, coming in file, from the west, from the direction of Plum Creek canyon. Three horses, five riders. Indians.
John unhitched, took his team to the house and unharnessed, all the while gauging the slow approach of the Indians. What were they up to? vJherewere they headed? They reached the corner and turned south, on the road that led to John's driveway. Should he get a gun? No, one Indian brave, accompanied by two squaws and two small children, could not be very hostile.
The brave rode in the lead. Trailing him were the squaws, one young, the other rather old. Behind each squaw, a child rode. It looked like a family outing, Ma, Pa, Grandma and the two kids.
The procession came straight to the house and stopped. John stood his ground. The brave looked at him but said nothing. Augusta stood in the doorway of the house, with Aaron on her hip.
The rave was clad in white man's clothing: trousers, a suit coat and a felt hat. The squaws, wrapped in blankets, grinned. The little Indians were somber.
The brave dismounted, untied the saddle strings that had been holding a dead antelope, and dropped the gutted carcass at the doorway, at Augusta's feet.
Augusta was astounded. A dead animal? He was dumping dead things on her doorstep? Ish!
Then the Indian raised his right hand and laid it lightly on Aaron's hair. It was like a blessing: a dirty red hand upon light, sunny hair, a blessing upon the new American, upon
this small, white inheritor of the Plains.
Then Augusta recognized the Indian. This was her Indian, the one who had eaten all of her eggs.
NOw, evidently, he was paying for the lunch, by bringing meat to her lodging.
The brave climbed back on his horse. The procession moved away, going north, toward the Platte River.
No one ever knew where the Indian had come from, or where he had gone. And he never returned.

Stanley & Marguerite Hunziker by Susan

My favorite grandfather was my father’s father. He was a sweet man with a gentle soul.
He was a ferryboat captain in Puget Sound. We lived in California. From the time I was 5 years old, when we came to visit in the summer, he would let me take the wheel of the ferryboat in the middle of the run.
He and my grandmother lived on Whidbey Island. Their house was on the beach not far from the ferry dock. The ferry was “parked” overnight almost in front of the house.
When he was not working, he liked to sit on the logs that washed up on the beach and whittle the driftwood. At the 1962 World Fair, we bought him a small wooden Siamese cat from the Thailand expo. For the next 10 years, he carved thousands of copies of that cat—big ones and small ones, with markings that the wood suggested. He also made small tables and a set of wooden chairs without nails.
My grandmother was a difficult woman, but a great cook. The smallest meal she ever made would feed the Russian army: beef, ham, and turkey, plus seven or eight salads or vegetable dishes and four or five desserts.
My favorite dessert is fruit pie, probably because she made dozens of them in individual Pyrex dishes from the wild blackberries that grew behind the house. She picked a bucketful of berries every other day.
My mother did not like to cook, so when we visited my grandparents, I raided the refrigerator several times a day between meals. It was just heaven, at least for a kid. My dad, their only child, became a kid in some ways while he was there, so I understand why my mother dreaded those visits.
My mother’s parents lived in Arizona, but we didn’t see them very much. She was not very comfortable around them, either. And they didn’t spoil me as much as my father’s parents did.

David by Deb

I take care of Anne, my 90 year old mother full time. One of her favorite stories is abouther father, David, who came to America by boat through Ellis Island.
The first time he went on a plane he wanted to give his Daughter a gift and he brought her back the little bag he found in the plane seat pocket, the “barf” bag. Because he could not read, he did not know it’s purpose and thought it would make a nice present.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

I had a very eccentric, strong grandmother who walked from Antwerp to Lisbon with her entire family. They took the first boat
they could get on and went to Brazil, they made a life there.
Once I visited her there. I remembered her as an opinionated slightly harsh woman, my cousin was a lawyer, she took care of her. They had a nice life, at some point my grandmother was placed into an assisted living situation; her best friend had just died. When I arrived, first she looked at me, asked me what I do, teach I reply “ah teach… you are not wearing rings why not wear many rings, this is foolish… Instead of replying I asked her to tell me about her friend.
What else can you expect she was polish; she took care of her children, that was the shape of her life. Her husband was a thinker,
They had 8 children, each stupider to the other, except for your father, he helped me. My husband was wise and handsome she would say..
A little while ago I met the American consul in Rio, “I’ tell you a story” he said, “about an old woman who refused to live in a country whose poetry she did not know, so she studied Portuguese to be able to read Brazilian poems.It was of course my grandmother.