When I was about five-years-old, that’d be in 1958, I looked forward to spending time with my grandparents. They lived in the city near a dairy, and to a country boy like me, visiting them was a real adventure.
During the summer, I slept over more often and stayed with them longer. When my parents dropped me off, I can remember being greeted by my grandmother. She’d be standing outside the house next to the driveway, and she’d be wearing a full yellow and white checkered apron, and the apron had two large pockets.
My grandparents’ house wasn’t large, but they had a good-sized backyard where they planted a garden. I used to go with Grandma Sarah into the garden, and she would pull carrots and other vegetables and put them in the pockets of her yellow and white apron. Then we would go to the chicken coop, and she would hold up the bottom corners of the apron and use it to carry eggs back to the house. She was so kind to me, teaching me how to gather an egg without getting pecked and letting me lick the icing bowl clean. Loving her like I did, I found it hard to believe when later on I learned that my grandparents had once been run out of their home town.
My grandfather was of German descent and grew up in the United States. He didn’t particularly like living here, and when World War I broke out, he was very outspoken in his support of Germany. The residents of the town where my grandparents lived considered such talk unpatriotic, and they wanted my grandparents to leave. One day when my grandfather was away, the townspeople went into the house and carried my grandmother outside. She was still in her rocking chair, and they set her in the street; then they burned down my grandparents’ house.
I recently came across a piece of sheet music that was written and composed by Grandmother’s daughter, Hazel L. Atterberry, called “Thank you for the Roses.” It’s about the loveliness of flowers, and the front cover is a black and white photograph of my grandmother. In the picture, she’s holding a small bouquet of flowers and she looks so sweet and gentle, exactly as I remember her.
Grandmother Sarah died in the mid-70s. A few months before her death, she held my first son, and she was wearing an apron, although I don’t think by then she was doing any housework. It was full, just like the checkered apron she’d worn in the garden. I’ll just never forget her in that apron. It was pink with pink trim.
"Loving her like I did, I found it hard to believe that my grandparents had once been run out of their home town."
~ Ray Moore
Text © EllynAnne Geisel