I was asked this question in my Storyworth gift for Christmas. I’m asked one question a week and at the end of the year, they put my answers in a book form.
What were your Grandparents Like
I remember my grandparents on my dad’s side better than on my mom’s side. They would come and see us on their way to and from Naples, FL-their winter getaway. Grandpa Lauritz Gram was a friendly and interesting man who was born in Norway and came to the US through the St Lawrence Seaway. He settled in West Allis, Wisconsin. Grandpa worked for Allis Chalmer company. He loved baseball, fishing and keeping his mind alert by listening to Readers Digest on tape, and by saying the alphabet backwards. He was almost blind and had to tilt his head to see us. I wonder how he ever drove back and forth to FL with his trailer attacked. He lived until almost 98. We attributed it to the fact that he ate oatmeal every day.
Grandma Emma Carter Gram was English/Scottish/Irish and was not as warm and friendly as Grandpa. I heard that when my dad had friends come over from college; she’d go to her room and pretend to be sick. When we had Sunday meals around the dining room table, Grandma wasn’t very happy to have anyone other than the family around our table. But my mom would often invite others for a lamb or pork roast dinner. I loved those times, because that’s when I learned the most about family history.
Grandpa and Grandma would take over the master bedroom, and each night Grandpa would pour a glass of Mogen David Wine for the two of them. When Grandma Gram came down the stairs, he would whistle a tune and sing, “Here Comes the Bride.” He was devasted when she died at 89 years old.
Ginger and I would entertain them with a dramatic show. We would dress up and do a lot of giggling. Sometimes we’d sing an advertisement ditty. “Pamper, Pamper, new shampoo. Gentle as a lamb so right for you. Gentle as a Lamb (I’d say) Yes, Ma’am (responded Ginger) Pamper, Pamper, new shampoo. I would continue the show by standing on my head and doing a backbend and then walking over to a cup of water. I’d pick it up and pretend to drink and then put it back on the floor and continue to walk back and pull myself up. I would get a resounding applause for that trick.
In the summer, Grandpa and Grandma lived in Crivitz WI where I remember catching one fish. But otherwise, we would see them in West Allis for special occasions like weddings and graduations.
My mother, who was born in Valder’s WI, was the 12thchild in her family. She was raised by her older sisters and didn’t interact very much with her mother. I remember Olean Berge as a quiet woman dressed in black and sitting on her rocker. I imagine she listened to my mother play the piano which was my mom’s fun activity along with playing the game, ball and jacks.
Grandpa Anton Berge was born about the time that Lincoln died in 1865. He did the hard work of tilting the land for farming. I loved seeing the cows and calves, but I was scared to death of the bull. There was a part of the barn that had old farming implements and a horse-driven sled. I imagined what it must have been like to have Grandpa drive my mother and her brother to school in very bad weather. But my favorite activity was playing with the kittens: I would often take one home.
Uncle Oley and Aunt Dagney, and my cousins lived with Grandpa and Grandma. Grandpa, also Norwegians, would call her “Yudy” which I found unusual since her name was Judy. He would yell “behivity” to my three male cousins if they were misbehaving. He told me he worked as a cobbler when he was younger before becoming a farmer. He gave Ginger and me a silver dollar to keep as a remembrance of him. He took care of the chickens and the bees and continued to drive until his death at 94.