A grandmother remembers her grandparents, part 2

Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
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By Duane Stanley

Grandma was a poultry raiser. I remember liking to see her gather up her long apron to fill it with oats, wheat, and corn to carry to the chicken yard. Then, with a handful of grain, she would scatter it as she called, "Come chick, chick, chick," in a musical tone. Turkeys were fed in a different area. Then her call was "Here turk, turk, turk," in a quieter, coaxine voice. And what fun it was to see the baby turkeys come when their mother gave her call that all was safe.

Grandma's apron was a versatile article. Sometimes it carried small branches and twigs in as kindling for a quick fire in the large wood cook stove. Sometimes it carried garden produce to the house. Sometimes it wiped a tear from a child's eye, or was used as a potholder when lifting hot kettles or frying pans. But I do not remember seeing her wear a dirty apron.

As I approached high school age, Grandma told me, "It is high time you learn things young ladies have to do instead of being a tomboy all your life." So, much more time was spent indoors. I enjoyed reading, and could forget all else. One day, I was reading when she started washing dishes. I intended to wipe them for her, but was so engrossed that I forgot. When I realized that she was wiping them already, I asked why she didn't call me. Her terse statement, "Anyone that is going to help me should be here when the work is ready to be done!" made me much more observant of the work she was doing. I helped churn butter and mold it. Then it was stored in a round wooden box called a butter firkin in the well pit where it kept cool. I helped with dishes, sweeping the floors and ironing the easy clothes. All of those things I had helped with at home also. But now there was to be a new experience for me.

"Every young lady should learn how to darn, do hemstitching, and make quilts," my grandmother said. I darned stockings with inexperienced fingers. I learned to do hemstitching on a handkerchief. Grandma said I was doing very neat work on the last side of it. Then I graduated to quilt-making.

Quilts were named at that time, which seemed rather odd to me. The kind that grandma taught me to make was called "Star and Diamond." I had to mark and cut the strips, triangles, and diamond-shaped pieces and stack each kind in a box to keep them handy. Then there was great emphasis on making small, even stitches to join them together neatly.

With her encouragement and coaching, I had several blocks made when I returned home for the school year. Progress was slow for the next few years. High school, teacher-training, and two years as a rural school teacher took up my time and interests. Correspondence with a young farmer living 160 miles away, and an occasional visit from him also dulled my interest.

After we were married I made a few more blockss. Then children, gardening, canning, care of chickens, and occasionally helping my husband left no time for quilt-making, I thought. So it was boxed up and forgotten.

Four years ago my 82-year-old mother asked me what I had done with the star-and-diamond quilt I had once worked on. I located it, and we were both happy to find that it lacked only two of the star-shaped blocks to make it large enough for a twin bed. She and I hand-stitched the blocks needed and assembled, then tied it. There is quite a difference in the prints of my grandmother's time and now. The quilt is beautiful in the eyes of my mother and me, and it is a happy reminder of my grandmother.

Will visits to this home, the farm homestead by my husband's grandparents, mean much to our grandchildren? Have they learned any worthwhile aptitudes from us? Have we failed them in any way? These questions make us realize our responsibility.

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Thanks for making our Nov. 16, annual holiday potluck event another huge success. Again, some brought a recipe new to us, some brought the good old favorites you'll find in our keepsake cookbook with some of the recipes of our best cooks. With our fame for preserving Kimball's City Hall, we find ourselves bragging on the "smaller" accomplishments often, so you all know we do many things besides this popular column, as we hope for a permanent location ourselves someday. Thanks for your partnership in all the above history of us. And check out the new steel roof, soon the new iron fire escape included in Phase 5.

Great dreams and clever ideas are what some of our officers, directors and volunteers put together for our 10th anniversary year, 2010. We're so grateful for each one of you! Ten years of continuous research, stories and photos, articles and exhibits, incredible speakers and programs for meetings, planning committees for every event/achievement. What was your favorite?

Today in history: In 1804, Napoleon was crowned emperor of France. In 1823, President Monroe outlined his doctrine opposing European expansion in the Western Hemisphere. In 1859, militant abolitionist John Brown was hanged for his raid on Harper's Ferry the previous October. In 1927, Ford Motor Co. unveiled its Model A automobile, the successor to its Model T.

January is just around the corner, our annual "Membership Month," and a time we begin planning all over again for the new year of 2011. First meeting/program date will be Tuesday, Feb. 22, with another great program and speaker to debut for the first time. Make a note on your new calendar and watch this column for more details.

For more information, souvenir gift ideas, membership, tax exempt donations, your stories and photos for our growing collection, contact the Kimball Area Historical Society at Box 100, Kimball MN 55353, or phone (320) 398-5743, or 5250, or e-mail

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Right now, you are making your memories, make them good!