Friday, September 8, 2017

A Grandmother Remembered

Sunday, September 10, 2017, is National Grandparents Day. We all have two sets of grandparents and memories of those grandparents. I saw my mother’s parents, Richard and Draxa Numbers Swinburne, yearly when we traveled to Bagley, Minnesota, for summer vacation. My parents would stay with Richard and Daraxra while my brother and I stayed with an aunt and uncle (Neal and Opal Swinburne Stave) and cousins on the Stave farm. So, I really saw very little of my maternal grandparents and have few memories. 

However, it is quite a different story with my paternal grandmother. Camilla Elizabeth “Libbie” Swarthout Newhouse was born 12 May 1883 in Pine Island, Minnesota, a small town about 17 miles northwest of Rochester, Minnesota (home to the Mayo Clinic). She married her husband, 
about 1905
Fritz Valentine Newhouse, a dentist, on June 15, 1905. He was also born in Pine Island on February 14, 1880. He died on February 13, 1923, in Rochester.

I grew up in Rochester and saw Elizabeth (her preferred name) on a weekly basis, if not more. We always had Sunday dinner at her house. We would be seated around her walnut dining room table that had matching chairs. I remember her furniture in the living, the bedrooms, and the front porch. I remember her peddle Singer sewing machine. I remember sitting at her dressing table and trying on her jewelry. (See previous blog about the Glove Box.) 

When my parents would take a trip during the school year, she would come to stay with my brother and me. Apparently, we were not too much work for her as she always came back. Our friends thought our grandmother was rich - she would give the two of us 50¢ each to spend at the corner grocery store about two blocks away. As it was the time of penny candy, we could buy enough candy for ourselves and our friends. 

When I reached the 7th grade, I started attending what was then junior high school. My grandmother lived within walking distance from the school, and it became a common practice for me to stay with her for a week at a time. She was an avid bridge player, and she was teaching me the game (but I never really learned). We also played lots of other card games with much laughter involved. When it was nice outside, we would sit in the backyard in lawn chairs and later compare our arms to see who had a better tan. 

Every time I think about my grandmother, I smile.

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