Hundred Year Old Cookies

Hi there!  J here.  I’m back with another old family-treat recipe.  Really old.  My grandmother was number 7 of 8 children.  She was born in 1909, her mother, Thea, was born in 1869.  That makes Thea just a bit more than 100 years older than me.  Click here to see my great-grandmother Thea’s Krisling Cookie recipe.  It’s an oldie but a goodie.

I grew up hearing stories about my grandmother’s youth.  Like everyone, my grandmother was a product of her environment and time.  We had tin foil, an ice box and a commode in my house as a child.  Or at least that’s what she always called aluminum foil, the ‘fridge and the toilet.  And every morning, my grandmother carried her canopy from her bedroom on the second floor to the only bathroom on the first.  Seem strange?  Well it wasn’t a canopy so much as it was a can o’ pee.  Yes, my granny was from a time when using a chamber pot was as normal to her as using the toilet is to us.  Imagine the control, the leg muscles she must have had…to accurately pee into an old coffee can in the middle of the night while in her 70’s!  It would be impressive if it wasn’t so yucky.

Another interesting factoid about my grandmother: she never wore pants.  Never.  Not even one time in her entire 95 year life, did the woman don a pair of slacks.  No trousers for her.  Ever.  Just dresses, skirts and housecoats.  And of course the appropriate foundation garments: a girdle, stockings with garters (not in any way something my hubby would EVER want to see on me…this garment was way more serviceable than things you find a Victoria’s Secret).  Imagine the picture here on a short, hunched over, ancient, wrinkly, droopy-boobed old woman and you’ve got the idea.   And don’t forget to add serious granny panties.  These things were giant – and she wasn’t a heavy woman.  These were undies that started just south of the bra and ended a bit north of the knees.  You may now want to go put your eyes out.  Or Google images of Alexander Skarsgard.  I’ll do it for you to recuperate.  Click here.  And here.  And here, too.  Here’s my top five faves in case you are still shuddering.  #1, #2, #3, #4, #5.

My grandmother never flew on a plane or traveled further from Hartford, CT than New York with the exception of one train ride to South Carolina.  She only drove a car a few times.  She did get a license at some point in her 40’s, but then had a little fender-bender and never got behind the wheel again. 

And boy o’ boy could she play the 100-year old widow!  I remember one time, we went to the beach at the cape to fetch some wicked huge shells.  It was low-tide on the bay so we knew we’d have to walk for ages.  My grandmother decided to wait in the car.  We waded back through the incoming tide, hauling gads of palm sized shells (my sister claims to have almost drowned, but I’m sure somebody toted her short butt through the rising water) to find Granny knitting in the passenger seat of the car.  Apparently we were parked in some kind of no-parking zone and when the officer arrived to write out ticket, she gave him the 100-year-old widow routine well enough to get my mom out of the citation.  Good times.

I could go on and on, but here’s today’s secret: when you create characters, think about what life was like for the first 15 years of their life.  I’m a product of the 1980’s and that decade had a lot to do with forming how I see the world and interact with it.  Certainly not all, but even now, I get nostalgic for the things from my childhood.  Things that happened in my 20’s and (gulp) 30’s are less “awwwww” inspiring to me than things that happened before I was 15.  What slang was popular in your character’s formative years?  Was there a “Where were you when Kennedy was killed, or when the Towers fell” moment?  Who was home to meet her after school in second grade?  What music did he listen to, and how was it played?  Victrola, vinyl, 8-track, cassette, CD, mp3 or whatever comes next?

Today’s question: What is your favorite childhood memory and why?

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9 thoughts on “Hundred Year Old Cookies”

  1. Picture a warm summer night at the miniture golf course. You are about 12 & are there with your parents, 9 year old sister, various aunts, uncles & your 60+ year old grandmother. Over the loud speaker they are announcing the latest hole in one. “Congratulations to Theodore Hector for making a hole in one”. When this happened, my sister & I just lost it. We were laughing so hard, we were rolling around on the ground. Why? Because my dad’s 2 favorite dogs when he was growing up were Theodore & Hector. My mother was probably talking a hundred miles an hour & missed the significance of the announcement. The other relatives, were from mom’s side of the family & didn’t know what my sister & I knew. Our dad had just got a hole in one & gave the announcer a fake name.

    drainbamaged.gyzmo at gmail.com

  2. I read this entire post and all I kept thinking was, “My Gram always, always wore skirts.”
    I never saw her in a pair of pants when I knew her or even in pictures of here before my birth. She was born in 1912.
    My fave childhood memory is riding along in my Gram’s 76 Malibu anywhere we decided to go while I had full control of the radio. She had a heavy foot that woman.. these days I do as well.
    Miss you Gram!

    Great post.

    1. What a great memory! The skirt thing through…I don’t get it. You have to keep your knees together….too much effort for me. And we live in a cold climate…it’s cold in a skirt in the winter! 🙂

  3. Good article J. I never knew my father’s side of the family, but my mother’s mother and father came through Ellis Island. I have done some research and found out some very interesting things, such as Ellis Island recorded that my grandmother arrived here with $10.00 cash. I suppose in those days, that was a significant amount of money. Your blog has given me pause and started me thinking about the lives and times of my characters. Thanks.

    1. Well, I love to give people pause! I can’t imagine that even in the 19th century, that ten bucks would be much to build a new life on….I’m feeling better about the contents of my wallet!

  4. I lost my only living Grandmother when I was six and didn’t have fond memories of her. I do recall that she always wore dresses. My only grandparent was my Grampa Fred who I referred to in ON THIN ICE. I had some great memories of him, unlike my siblings who thought he was horribly mean. I remember he bought me a small rocker and we would sit side by side rocking while watching Wild Wild West and I Dream of Jeannie. He would hum all the time and if he passed gas would look around and suggest I had run over a mouse with my rocking chair. He was a hoot!

  5. It must be a generational thing. My grandmother and great aunts always wore dresses. I don’t think I ever saw any of them in pants. I’m Italian so I have lots of wonderful food related family memories! Too many to chose, but I do miss the days when everyone got together around the holidays. At the time I was too young to appreciate those big family gatherings and didn’t realize that it wouldn’t always be like that forever!

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