I thought I would make this story a little more lighthearted.
Big Grandma had wiry gray hair and she loved perms, but that wasn't always the case. Back in the 1940's when permanents were just becoming all the rage, Aunt Margaret convinced Big Grandma to go and get a perm. Apparently, she had to be convinced, but since Margaret was considered very "up-to-date" with fashion, she finally relented.
Big Grandma's normal hair style was just straight and wrapped up in a handkerchief like Aunt Jemima! She is remembered to have always been wearing a "kerchif and apron." Upon coming home after the perm, Grandpa did not approve and Big Grandma felt she looked like a "whore." Not until many, many years later did she begin perming it again.
I thought Big Grandma had the bluest eyes I had ever seen. I once said so to my mother who kindly said, "Her eyes were brown, Amie." I was confused. I reminded her that they were indeed blue as blue could be! Mom told me that actually, she had had dark brown eyes until she developed cataracts and started going blind. When that happened, the color left her eyes and turned them the most brilliant of blues. Yes, she was going blind for as long as I could remember. Her eyesight was all but completely dark by the time she died.
My sister Mandie and I laugh until we cry when we remember how she looked as she was trying desperately to spy on the neighbors or to check the sky for inclement weather! If she felt her 'bones a achin' she would go to the front door and look out to the sky. I remember she would say, "Laawww children, there's a big storm comin." (Translation: Lord children, there's a big storm coming.) She was terribly afraid of 'tornada's.'
Her blindness was the source of many funny experiences. Like when we would be at Woolworth, her favorite store in the world, and she would ask the cashier to count her money for her because she "cain't see and [was] nearly blind, honey." (Translation: can't see and nearly blind, honey.) You might be imagining this scenario. I bet you are imagining a half blind woman with a giant purse. Perhaps you're picturing the purse, heavy laden with lots of things, and the old woman is digging for her wallet and pulling it from the purse. But you would be wrong. Oh heavens no, she didn't keep the "billfold" in her "pocketbook" young uns'...why no! She kept that in her bosom! That's right! I thought Big Grandma was a large chested woman, but it wasn't actually breasts that filled the great chest, but rather her precious things! She wrapped a man's billfold into a white handkerchief and pinned it within the large expanses of her empty bra. She kept all sorts of things in there. Tissues, both used and clean, a Tylenol bottle for spitting her snuff in, and of course, anything she didn't want stolen, including the billfold.
I mentioned before that she could feel a storm comin' on. She knew just what to do for aching bones. When we girls would complain of our legs hurting (probably growing pains) she would go to the white metal cabinets for the horse lineament. Yep, actual horse lineament! She would rub our little, bruised, and bony legs with the lineament and we would swear it made us feel all better. I guess it did.
My sisters and I spent a lot of time at Big Grandma's house. We always asked for candy. She seemed to always have a stash of Christmas candy in an old tin can. It all stuck together, but she would bust it apart with a hammer and give us some. I am cracking up...she used a HAMMER! Never did she say, "Oh, that candy is too old! You don't want to eat that!" Waste not, want not, must have been her motto!
We would often ask her if she had any "play purties." We said it just like that. I was a teenager when I realized that "play purties" were actually "play PRETTIES." I just knew that was how Big Grandma said it. A "play purty" is anything that Grandma didn't want that we could play with and take home. My mother once had the audacity to call it junk...seriously...I couldn't believe she could be so RUDE! Our favorite things to get were old perfume bottles. We would generously apply the fermented scent all over our bodies. Oh...we thought we smelled sooo good! Mom would make us bathe as soon as we got home. I hated that.
Big Grandma loved to plant things in her little backyard garden. She had "tamaters, cukes, and beans." She canned veggies, jellies, and jams. When she still lived in Virginia, she would sell whatever she had canned that was extra. I
personally loved when she would let me "break the beans" with her. She would sit by the kitchen 'winder' (that's a window) and have a big pile of green beans laying on her lap. We would break off the ends and throw that part away. Then, you would break the bean into about 1 inch long pieces and put them in the bowl. I can still smell the kitchen, the beans, and the warm August air.
Isn't it funny how memories often have a smell attached to them?
It's been fun remembering today. Read the last story in the Big Grandma series here.