Sunday, May 31, 2015

Happy The Grandmother's Birthday

Today is my grandmother's 98th birthday, and I am always amazed by the changes which she has seen in the world during her years.  When Ina Marie Rostorfer was born on 31 May 1917, the president was Woodrow Wilson, the United States was engaged in World War I, and most of the world was still ruled by monarchies & colonial powers.  Her father Lawrence Rostorfer farmed with a team of horses, and her mother Mabel Viola Watts carried out the household chores by hand (no dishwasher, no washing machine, no electric iron, no microwave, etc).  

I remember my grandmother telling about her vivid memory of the day this picture was taken.  It was before her younger sister Lucille and her younger brother Grant were born.  Grandmother said that she was frightened of the photographer, as it was an old style camera where the photographer would duck under a cloth that covered the back of the camera.  As a child getting her first picture taken, Grandmother found it scary that the man would be "hiding" behind the camera.  

One of my favorite stories that Grandmother would tell was about her childhood experience of helping her father re-plant corn.  If an area of the field did not show plants growing, she was responsible to plant seeds by hand to replace lost plants.  Grandmother said that one day as a child she was hot and tired, and did not want to finish the task.  So, she dumped the rest of the seeds under a rock.  Her father was very disappointed when several of the seeds sprouted corn plants that grew out from under the stone!

Grandmother was always good at telling stories about her youth.  I learned about her anger when her new baby sister broke many of her toys, I marveled that there was a world without electric and telephones and indoor bathrooms, I heard of her love for her cousin Ray and her sadness when he died during the Battle of the Bulge, and I was enchanted by stories of her courtship with my grandfather.  I am very glad that she shared many of these experiences with me, as it gave me an early appreciation for the changes she saw during her life.

One of my favorite pictures of the two of us is this one taken in 1985.  I was wearing a dress that had belonged to my mother when she was a child, and my grandmother wore a favorite dress of hers from the early 1960s.  My friends may recognize that I still have that particular dress of Grandmother's and love to wear it during summer months.  Items like that are important to me as tangible connections to my family.  I am glad that I was able to spend so much time with my grandparents during my childhood, when Grandmother was in good health and able to share her time & experiences with me.

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