In the summer of 1961 I got to spend a couple of months with my grandparents. I was 12 and they were OLD. They tried their best to keep me entertained and I really wasn't a high maintenance kid, so we got along just fine. Their lifestyle was a bit old-fashioned, but I enjoyed it for the most part. When I was at loose ends, I just found a book to read since I enjoyed that.
My grandparents never had a dishwasher, so after each meal we went to the sink where we washed and dried the dishes before putting them away. Paper plates were for picnics, not regular meals. In the morning after breakfast, Grandpa and I went out to feed the chickens he kept in his back yard. They did not live on a farm. Often Grandpa would go out and rototill his large garden and get his ditches ready for his irrigation turn. When Grandma did laundry, we went down the basement and washed the clothes. At that time she had a double dexter washer. After we got the clothes all washed and rinsed, I helped Grandma load them into a laundry basket and then carried them up the stairs and out to the clothesline for her because it was hard for her to do because she was old.
The clotheslines were in the back yard in the hot, dry, summer sun. We hung up everything with clothespins. The bedding was hard for Grandma to handle because it was heavy....and she was old, so I helped her with it.
Sometimes when I was working with Grandma she would grimace a bit and ask me to go get one of her dynamite pills. I thought it was funny that she called them dynamite pills. They were really nitroglycerin pills. Grandma almost always wore a dress, with a girdle and nylons. (She was really excited when pantyhose were invented!) Her shoes were those black, oxford 'old lady' shoes. I vowed I would never wear such shoes. They were for old people. (Many years later I couldn't believe that my daughters willingly wore similar shoes.)
Grandma came from a large family. Her father had 8 children with his first wife. When that wife died, he remarried and had 9 more children, so all the children had to help. As the second oldest of the second family, Grandma was assigned to do all the sewing for the family, so she became a really good seamstress. She liked to help me do sewing projects. We walked downtown to get fabric. We didn't get patterns because Grandma always made her own patterns. We didn't drive. Grandma didn't ever learn to drive...because she was so old that cars were hardly invented when she was young.
Grandma liked me to help her put curlers in her hair. She was so old that it hurt her arms to hold them above her head and put her own curlers in.
When Grandma's cherry tree got ripe, she liked me to climb up the ladder to pick the cherries while she handed me buckets from below....because she was too old to climb trees and ladders.
Sometimes in the evening, Grandpa drove us out to visit Uncle Herman's farm. Herman was Grandma's younger brother. We always took large, glass gallon jars with us. Herman filled them with fresh milk from his cows. Grandma always wanted to stay at the house and visit with Aunt Thelma while I ran out to the barn to watch Uncle Herman milk...and sometimes squirt milk into the mouths of the barn cats. I think Grandma was just too old to run anymore.
Yesterday I was thinking about Grandma and wondered just how old she really was that summer. I was startled to realize that she was 66...just a year younger than I am now!