Sunday, September 13, 2015

Grandparents' Day

My calendar tells me that today is "International Grandparents' Day".  Well, that's news to me since Grandparents' Day is not a day I've ever celebrated or even heard of.  But why not take this opportunity to honor my grandparents?


Interestingly, today is also my parents' 63rd wedding anniversary.  



So, since my story starts with my parents and their story starts with my grandparents, I thought I'd share a bit about their stories.  Mind you, I wasn't there for most of what I'm recording here, but these are the stories as I've heard and remember them.

My dad grew up in a small town in Susquehanna, PA and my mom on a farm 
My Grandma Hall with my dad, in the sailor suit, and his two brothers
outside Mishawaka, IN.  They met at the wedding of friends....my mom's close friend married my dad's roommate from Bible College.  I'm told it was love at first sight.  They carried on a correspondence for a year and saw each other only twice during that time.  After all, in 1952, the trip from Pennsylvania to Indiana was long and expensive and usually done by train.

My Grandpa Hall, Rexford Hall, had grown up on a dairy farm outside of Susquehanna, PA.  His father farmed with a horse-drawn plow and milked by hand.  My Grandma Hall, born Wanda Wheeler, had grown up in a nearby town called Lanesboro.  Grandma had grown up in a close-knit family of nine children.  I have no idea how they met or about their wedding....those are the questions we wish we'd asked!   I'm told that my Grandpa was a young married man and set to inherit the family farm when the depression started.  At about the same time, and unrelated to the depression, the cows on the farm were tested positive for bovine tuberculosis and were carted off.  That left my Grandpa with no work, and the depression upon them.  My dad said he found day labor wherever he could.  Some days he'd come home with a bag of potatoes as payment, some days a gallon of milk, some days a bit of money, etc.  

My Grandpa Hall was one of the hardest working men I've ever known.  My dad says America was built on the backs of men like him. I believe he only had a 6th grade education, but I can remember him sitting down every evening with the newspaper and his Bible.  He'd read through the paper and then read his Bible.  He also had an amazing garden and knew massive amounts of information about nature....weather, animals, farming, etc.  He worked in a machine shop after the depression until his retirement.  He bought a shack after the depression and single-handedly turned it into a nice little house.  He was a stern man and I was a bit afraid of him as a child, but when I knew him as a young adult, he seemed to mellow and I believe I also got to know him better and understood that he had a loving and gentle nature.
Grandma and Grandpa Hall's wedding portrait
I don't know much about my Grandpa's and Grandma's conversions.  I know both of them had grown up in Christian homes.  My dad tells the story that my Grandpa smoked a pipe.  Grandma didn't like him smoking, so he'd smoke outside and in the outhouse.  One night at a church revival he become convicted that he shouldn't smoke, so he went home that night and threw his pipe and tobacco in the wood stove.  My dad said his black hair fell out in handfulls, presumably from the shock to his system, but also he was under a lot of stress at the time.  When it grew back in, it came in white.

My Grandma Hall passed away from cancer when my dad was in high school, so, sadly, I never got to meet her.  My dad speaks highly of her, and I like to imagine that she was a lot like her sister, who was one of my favorite people in the world, my Great Aunt Jeanette.

My Grandma Margie and Grandpa Hall with my parents, my sister, and my brother.  Ummm, yeah, I don't know what's wrong with them!
Before I was born, Grandpa married Margie Ketchum, who I always knew as Grandma Margie.  Grandma Margie was so sweet and I think gifts must have been her love language because whenever we came, she would have some kind of gift waiting for us.  She also made sure there was Captain Crunch cereal in the house, something we never got at home!  She was the secretary at their church and served there faithfully for many, many years. 

Meanwhile, my mom was growing up on a farm in Indiana.  
My mom, in the white dress, with her parents, sister, and two brothers
She said she was not really aware that there was a depression because they were poor anyway and since they lived on a farm, they grew what they needed for food.  My Grandpa, Harold Gay, had grown up in Mishawaka, Indiana, and had a love for machinery.  He raced motorcycles in the 1920's.  

They weren't much more than a bike with a motor on it, but it was pretty daring back then! 

 

My Grandma, Ada Carswell, had been born in Nebraska where her parents had been pioneers.  They moved back to Indiana and obviously my grandparents met, but, again, I have no idea how.  

Grandpa and Grandma Gay's wedding portrait

My mom tells me that when she was young her parents were not Christians  (My Grandma may have been a Christian, I'm not sure.).  They may have called themselves "Christian" but it was not a relationship with Jesus that affected their daily lives.  She said that my Grandpa, who was also working in a machine shop, met a man who kept witnessing to him.  He went to church with that man, but it was a Pentecostal church and he wasn't really comfortable with the emotion there.  However, the man's testimony and enthusiasm for things of the Lord really made an impact on my Grandpa.  At the same time he met another Christian man who eventually brought my Grandpa to the Lord, he and his household. 


My Grandpa and Grandma Gay.  This was probably taken the last time I saw my Grandpa.

My Grandpa Gay loved  his grandchildren!  When all of the cousins were together we would fight to sit next to Grandpa at the table.  He said he needed to build a round table with a hole in the middle.  He'd sit in the hole and we could sit equal distance from him around the edges of the table.  He had a model train set in the basement and it was our delight to sit with Grandpa and play with his trains.  Grandma Gay was an amazing cook.  Some of the cousins tried to get recipes from Grandma, but she never used a recipe.  She just threw in a little of this and a lot of that, and it turned out perfectly.  Grandma and Grandpa were both very active in their church and were godly people.  Sadly, 
Grandma Gay with our family.  I'm the blonde one.
Grandpa died suddenly in 1970 when I was only 11 years old.  We had just returned from Nigeria a day or two before and never got to see him.  So the last time I saw him was when I was seven years old.  Grandma lived to a "ripe old age" and so I got to know her well.  






And, since it's Grandparents' Day, I just want to say that my parents and John's parents were also excellent grandparents.  I already wrote a blog about how our kids didn't get to see their grandparents much, but I'm so thankful that both sets of grandparents were able to visit us in Niger.

Both my parents and John's parents did a short term in Nigeria and we got to spend time with them there.

And now we are grandparents!  And, as my father-in-law used to say, "If I'd known grandkids were this much fun, I would have had them first."

"LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure.  The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance."  Psalm 16:5, 6

1 comment:

podso said...

Yes, who knew about this day! I like your grandparent shirts and the historic record on them. And it's nice you know the stories of your grandparents!