I wrote some facts in my last blog about my maternal Grandmother, Gladys Thelma Rankin. I'd like to share some of my thoughts about how I remember her. Things that cause me to wonder if the person I am today is genetic or my upbringing.
My Grand-mother was feisty! She was small in stature and she had short dark red hair. Auburn red, probably, I don't remember it having much gray in it. My grandmother smoked and it caused lots of discussion in my home when my babies were little. I didn't like her to smoke in the house and that was not gracious of me, but it was something I felt strongly about.
My Grandmother took care of my Uncle Billy who had cerebral palsy, my Uncle Billy was only a few years older than myself. As children learn at a young age, it didn't really matter that Uncle Billy couldn't do the things we did, we all still played together. He had his own special language and we knew what he was saying, strangers would not know. We rode tricycles, played ball and played with his toys, he had the most fun toys. Trains, blocks, records, games, whatever it was, we all played together. I must have learned early that people haven't all got the same abilities. They still are people and think and play and communicate and need to feel love. Uncle Billy was loved.
Grandma Rankin had her own business. She was a seamstress, her little girls dresses were smocked by hand and sewn by my Grandmother. She called her business "Miller Frocks". She would make little dresses as samples and take them to Dayton and go from client to client, measuring little girls and taking orders for dresses from her samples. The mothers of these little girls loved that my Grandmothers dresses had deep hems, often with a tuck that could be let out when their girls grew taller. My Grandmother's clients were mostly from the "colored" neighborhoods. In the 50's this was not normal to be in the those neighborhoods. My Grandmother was there, she knew they were people, just like us white folks. I would sometimes get to go with her on Saturday's when she delivered the beautiful dresses. Mostly I got to sit in the car and wait until she finished her business. Imagine leaving your kids in the car today!!!! The real treat came when we stopped a little corner market and she would let me have a Root Beer and Snowball cupcake like thing. Oh, that was pretty special for sure! I learned at a young age we all have the same needs and love dressing our babies in pretty smocked dresses. Is this where I began to see that people, no matter the color, were just people after all. Is this where I learned some of my "business" sense too?
My Grandma gave us our first Easter bunnies, a couple summers later we had 52 baby bunnies! A present that got a little out of control! My Grandma always made our Easter dresses, beautiful dresses with organdy pinafores over the top. Pretty white socks and new shoes........... we didn't even go to church. Isn't that funny? We always had big baskets covered with beautiful see through wrappings!
We kids always got to spend a week at Grandma's house in the summer. One at a time. It was a nice change of pace for us. Grandma Rankin lived in Springfield, coming from a home in a woods in the country was like stepping out into the light of the world. She fixed the most amazing hamburgers, no lean hamburger in those days and everything was fried. Oh, and she made the most amazing yeast rolls. I learned to make yeast rolls from my Grandma Rankin. She also taught me to smock and crochet. Little steps to becoming a quilter and seamstress myself when our children were growing up. Sewing became an important part of my life for a time, another gift from my Grandma.
When we spent the night at Grandma Rankins my favorite memory was hearing the train whistles as they passed through Springfield. I am always drawn back to that time when I hear a train whistle today. As we got older I remember sitting and watching the Reds play baseball on TV. If it wasn't on TV the game played on the radio. They were big Reds fans!
I could probably go on and on, but that is enough for now. Just to finish, I would say about the women in my family. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, is it genetic or our upbringing?
Photos: upper left, Grandma Rankin and Uncle Billy
lower right, me and my brother, Brian in our Easter outfits 1956