Monday, November 19, 2007

Stories of My Family, Part 3

Since this past weekend was pleasant, but rather uneventful, I thought I'd post a short family story I just learned today. (I have been pumping The Czarina for stories about her parents). So these are some quick stories about my Grandma Virginia's dad.

Apparently, my Great-Grandpa was a total jerk! Examples:

1. I told you how he disapproved of Grandma V's marriage to Grandpa John, because he wasn't a "good" Catholic. She ignored him and married him anyway.

2. Great-Grandpa also wrote a letter to Grandma V when she was young. He said he'd rather see her in a coffin than marry a non-Catholic. (WOW.)

3. Grandma V's sister, Helen, also got some bad advice from her dad. He told Helen that she and her fiance should wait until after WWII was over to get married, just in case he came home an amputee. (HOLY COW.) Helen wisely ignored this advice, too, and married Byrne before he went to war. And no, I don't think he was injured in the war. They were also happily married.

Great-Grandpa did not attend either wedding. (I told you he was a jerk!)

4. He was one of those dads who made you pick out your own switch. And if he thought it was too small....well....he got to pick it! One time when she was little, Grandma V kept a kitten after he told her she couldn't keep it. She had hidden it somewhere, and he found out. She got the switch! (Jeez Louise!)

5. He gave my Great-Grandmother $30 a month to run a household with 7 children. Even in 1920s money, that is very little. Especially when that includes food, clothing, cleaning and well, everything! During the Great Depression, they had to take in some family cousins who were out of work, which added an additional strain on her budget. I don't know how she did it.

Apparently, Great-Grandma had the patience of a saint, because that is exactly what she did for years and years -- she ran the house on a very tight budget. The only time she got a break was during the summer, when all the kids were shipped out to the family farm to help out. When the girls came home at the end of the summer, they were all tan and freckled, which was not very classy, back in the day. So she would make them bleach their skin with lemons before they were allowed in the parlor when guests came over! She didn't want them looking like farm hands in front of company. Isn't that funny? How times have changed...

One day, one of the daughters was getting married, and the wedding reception was held at the house, so Great-Grandma was getting everything ready for the big party. She noticed the kitchen needed painting, so she was up on a ladder, putting on a fresh coat.

Great-Grandpa walked in with some news: "I just came from the accountant's office! He told me the family firecracker business is worth a half a million dollars!"

Apparently, all his penny pinching paid off in the end! The firecracker business is still doing well to this day, and is still run by my family!

Great-Grandma climbed down the ladder, handed him the paintbrush and said to him, "Well, then you can afford to hire someone to paint this damn kitchen!"

This was the only time she ever said a word to him about his cheap ways!

And yes, he did hire someone to paint the kitchen. :)

Hey -- we still use my Great-Grandma's Applesauce Cake recipe. Wanna make it? You can find the recipe here.


Alison said...

Your great-grandma sounds like a hoot! I love it. Great stories!

Megan said...

What an awesome family business!

teahouse said...

Yeah, what a fabulous story!!!

Anonymous said...

I love love love old family stories! Looks like you're gearing up to be the family historian :)