Thursday, August 12, 2010

Notorious Gets a Retro Look

Yesterday I did a post on my Gram.  It brought back tons of memories and reminded me of the lost little girl I was when I went to live with her.  To say she was just my Grandmother is such an understatement.  At that point in my life she was my savior.  As time went by she became my mom and my dad, my spiritual adviser, my counselor and my friend all rolled into one.

My Gram was a pioneer among women before it was fashionable. Let's just say she was a little bit Notorious.  Okay, back in the day she was more than a little bit.

She grew up in the back hills of West Virginia.  She graduated from high school at the age of sixteen.  After, she went to work at a local grocery store in order to help with the large family she was from.  As the oldest of seven hard work was not new to her but she did have dreams.  

At nineteen when she left home for Baltimore she was considered an old maid.  She was not married and had no desire to be.  Later she would say it was because she hadn't met the right man yet, but I think her desire to see the world was her focus for so long that anything else would have just gotten in the way.

She was one of the original Rosie Riveters for WWII.  She moved to Baltimore to work in the war plants.  It was her get of jail free card and she never looked back. 

When my Gram finally did settle down she was in her late twenties. *Gasp* and she didn't have her first child until almost thirty.  She had to take two years off of work while she had her children but then she went right back to building a career that spanned the next thirty five years, until her retirement.

As I contemplated on what this posting should be about it dawned on me that I come from some pretty hardy stock and I have a heritage to be proud of.  And sometimes a little notoriety can be a good thing.  I just wish I had thought of that when I got caught sneaking out to go to a party at the age of sixteen after she had expressly forbidden me to go.  I think that argument would have worked.

Okay, maybe not, but she would have gotten a kick out of it after.  Probably.

Tell me about the most notorious character in your family?  Crazy Aunt, Creepy Uncle.  Don't hold back.



Jessica Lemmon said...

Great Gadspy! An original Rosie Riveter? Too cool!

Notorious? Hmm... well, my Grandpa was a POW for 22 mos. in WWII. I don't know if that makes him notorious, but it does make him pretty friggin AWESOME. ;)

Linda G. said...

I think I really would've liked your grandmother. :)

In my family, I think the "notorious" honor would have to go to Gann, TG's grandmother. She was a cigarette-smoking, coffee-drinkning, bourbon-swilling, 98-lb powerhouse, who could tell story after story. She was a hoot.

Jeffe Kennedy said...

Your grandmother reminds me a lot of mine. Though mine crafted herself into a "Lady" out of a Texas farmgirl. She had my mom at 42!

Alyson Peterson said...

My grandpa was the notorious one. He and his brother hitch hiked from Pennsylvania to San Diego California because they heard rumor that they weather was nice! He kept track of his travels by engraving where they had been on his leather belt. That belt is on display in the Julian CA museum under "influential people of the Great Depression". He was a dreamer and that drove him to do great things!

Patty Blount said...

Like Alyson, it was my grandfather. I called him Peepa (my grandmother was Meema).

He was born in Argentina. Nobody knows what his parents were doing there (they were Italian). The man never worked a job in his life. He managed to scrape a living together by rebuilding cars in College Point, Queens. What he couldn't build himself, he bartered for.

He was a great cook. Ever hear of a Coalminer's Breakfast? It was pretty much everything you had on hand fried in a skillet with eggs.

I remember sitting on his lap while he drove (I'm over 40; this was way before car seats) and he would let me shift gears. I couldn't see over the wheel!

He had an old boat and we'd spend long lazy days eating cold chicken from a cooler, then anchoring to go clamming.

When he died, my dad and his brothers each made a speech. My dad said, "We never had much but somehow, we never went without."

Thanks for the trip, Kelly.

abby mumford said...

your Gram sounds awesome. and from what i know so far, it runs in the family.