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?