Questions I Ask My Grandmother

My grandmother is wise beyond her years. She has a lot of years, too. She’s also a woman of few words. At least when it comes to writing her answers back to me. I bet if I talked to her in person her answers would be days long. This is episode three. You can read episodes one and two, if you like.

One of my favorite things about her is her sense of humor. This is woman who put a fake bird in a tree and then got my dad to sneak up on it to try to catch it. She had a chocolate cake that was actually made from styrofoam and loved to offer a piece to unsuspecting victims. She had small toy Christmas tree that could be wound up. It would slowly spin and play Christmas songs. That is until its spinner went kablooey and it would spin 90 mph and it’s ornaments would hang on for dear life. And Easter egg hunting? I loved it. The eggs she hid always had money in them!

So, Grandma (or G.G. to her grandkids), what answers have you for us today?

1. What’s the secret to a happy life?

Enjoy each day. It’s never coming again.

2. What’s the secret to a happy marriage?

Keep your own identity.

3. Is there something you had as a kid that you wish you still had?

I still have 1 toy. It’s a doll cradle that I later learned was made by an undertaker. His wife was the daughter of an ancestor that died in 1835 in a boat wreck.

4. What is/was your favorite game to play?

You name it – outdoor, baseball. Indoor, a board game.

5. Are there any celebrities in our family tree?

Well Peggy Shippen who married you know who. (Actually, I didn’t know who. DW did a quick Google search and it says she is the 2nd wife of Benedict Arnold. She was the highest paid spy of the American Revolution)

6. What are you most proud of?

Shhh… my community activities

7. What was your wedding day like? Do you have any wedding photos?

It rained. Only picture faded- unrecognizable

8. What’s your favorite thing about being a grandmother and great grandmother?

Oh you, you of course.

I guess that proves once and for all that I’m her favorite. I always knew it, I’m just happy to have it in writing!


Questions I Asked My Grandmother

The boys have been writing to their cousins. I’ve been writing to my grandma. She LOVES history. Local history. Family history. So I write to her to give her updates on our family since she’s not on the Facebook or the Twitter or the Instagram. If she were on Instagram, I’d call it Instagramma. She writes back answering the questions I sent. She also sends loads of additional information that sheds more light on certain questions. So what did I ask her this time?

1. You mentioned that you liked being in school plays. Do you remember on in particular? What role did you play in it?

In one play I dressed like Aunt Jemima. I sang two songs, one of them was “Take me down to Hoecake Land”. The play I remember best was in 7th grade. We were to write plays about Thanksgiving. Mine was chosen to be used. The day before the play, the older student who was to be the main character got strep throat. There was panic until they said I needed to play the main character because I knew the words. So instead of directing, I got the role. It was performed for the PTA November meeting.

2. What were some of your favorite songs as a kid? 

Probably X-mas songs – Silent Night, Jingle Bells, etc… It was years before there were pop stars, unless you call Bing Crosby one.

3. How did Pop Pop propose to you?

In the car just as we got home from a date several days before Xmas. He just showed me the ring and that was it.

4. Did my dad get into trouble as a kid? What did he do?

My memory must be poor. I don’t remember him getting in trouble.

5. How long have you lived on “The Farm” and what changes has it seen over the years?

Came here May 1950. On the third house. 1st one was roomy. 2nd in 1981 was comfortable. 3rd in 1994 after a house fire. Spent lots of hours taking care of chickens, cooked big dinners for Leo (my grandfather) and his helpers. Bigger tractors, larger crops, grain at times and sweet corn, peas, lima beans, field corn, barley, or wheat. Everything costs more and there’s more government regulation.

6. What are some fascinating facts about Tuckahoe and the surrounding area?

I researched land records, put together 300 pages of abstracts. Tuckers were among the first land owners here. Mostly dirt poor farmers lived here. Some had slaves. Sometime I’ll collect research and send it to you. There was a fish hatchery next to us on the river.

7. What was it like living through the Civil Rights Movement?

In the 1950’s a group called the White Citizens League came to the Eastern Shore to recruit members. They opposed integration with parades and fund raisers. New

New members visited friends, relatives, and their neighbors for support. My brother, Edward, came to my brother-in-law’s, George, house when my husband, Leo, and I were there with our young children. When we were asked to support I said no. Yes, the Woods were upset. I said as a Catholic I could not join the group.

Around the same time, my mother told me she was mad with my sister, Clara and her husband for riding in an open car on the streets in Easton supporting the organization. 

The events completely divided the residents of the Shore. Many kept quiet. There were disturbances in Cambridge in the later years. 

The so called White Citizens League left Easton with funds collected never to be heard of again. In the 1960’s, when schools were integrated, Leo and I told our children to treat everyone the same.

8. Do you have any special memories of your grandkids?

With the girls, tea parties. Dress up – had several suitcases full, including Little Red Riding Hood outfit I made from a discarded red evening dress from a friend. Making bread together. 

Number 4 is the funniest to me. Her memory is not poor. She’s as a sharp as a tack. It’s just that my dad, like his son after him, was an angel and caused no trouble. She also sent me papers describing when her house was used as an observation post during WWII to watch for enemy aircraft. Lastly, in case you were wondering what a hoecake is, it’s a southern thing kind of like a pancake, but more like cornbread. Google failed to turn up any results about the song.

Questions I Asked My Grandmother

1929 was a big year. Herbert Hoover was president. The stock market plummeted and U.S. securities lost $26 billion becoming the first financial disaster of the Great Depression. Trotsky was expelled from the U.S.S.R. The Cubs lost the world series to the Philadelphia A’s and the Boston Bruins defeated the NY Rangers for the Stanley Cup. A stamp cost .02¢ and a gallon of gas was .20¢. It was also the year my grandmother was born. Without her (and my grandfather), my dad wouldn’t be here. Without him (and my mom), I wouldn’t be here. Without me, you wouldn’t be here reading this. We can all thank my grandmother.

A few weeks ago I sent a letter off to my grandmother, my Dad’s Mom. It was done the 1929 way, written in ink on paper, sealed in an envelope and sent via postal service. Though, the way the postal service moves I could have sworn I sent it by pony express. Actually, I know it wasn’t by pony express. It would have gotten there faster if it was.

Today is “Questions I Asked” day a day early. As you’ve already read up there in the title, I didn’t ask my kids the questions this time. She graciously responded in her very unique penmanship. I can easily pick her handwriting out of a police line-up.

So what did I ask her? How did she answer?

1. When and where were you born? How many siblings do you have?

I was born on a farm at home near Longwoods, Maryland in 1929. I had 3 sister and 3 brothers.

2. What was school like for you?

Small classes, know everyone. What I liked best was being in school plays and history classes.

3. How did you meet Pop Pop?

We were introduced at a barn dance by a friend.

4. What was it like raising kids on “the farm”? 

We ate good food, played together, and worked in the chicken houses together.

5. Which trip/vacation was your favorite?

Probably going with Kathy (her daughter, my aunt) to Ireland, Scotland, and England.

6. What do you miss most about the “good old days”?

Memories of WWII when we had an Army Observation Post at our house. We had company every night and met interesting people in our neighborhood.

7. What did you do for fun as a kid?

My sister and I played with dolls and kittens.

8. Did you ever get into trouble as a kid? What did you do?

Once only, my sister was a trouble maker. One day I fastened her in the hen house. There was a black snake there.

9. What is a memory of my dad as a kid that makes you laugh?

He only saw me cry once. He asked if I had something in my eye.

10. How far back have you traced our family heritage? Who was it and where were they from?

Back to the 1600’s for some ancestors. They were from England. Nicholas Goldsborough is my ancestor six times – family marriages.

After note she included with her letter…

Once my children (she had seven of them) were out of school and on their own, I may have neglected them. I knew they had their own interests far removed from mine.

So I pursued my own interests- civic activities- historical and genealogical research. It was always easy sandwiching family and others.

Now, in recent years, I’ve been writing about my childhood and parents as I remember them. I have many loose leaf notebooks. 

The research I did for others broadened my interests and many friends have I acquired.

My research included murders, suicides, law suits, a few scandals and some boring. 

Only one long time effort researching Leo’s (my grandfather) Mother’s family. It cost a lot of money. There is a copy of it in the Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


Crash and Bang with their great-grandmother