Grandparents are good, old-fashioned fun. They expose us to the ways of the past like no one else can. They have lived the past and can share it with authenticity. So, as Grandparents’ Day is here, I salute my grandparents, the late Adelia and Raymond Albert Rice, Sr. and Agnes Hogan.
Grandma Rice used to make fresh-squeezed, lemonade in a large glass pitcher. She would pour my brother and I tall glasses of lemonade, take us out onto her back porch and visit with us. Grandpa Rice would already be sitting on his chaise lounge, reading the newspaper or a magazine. I would rush over to my grandmother’s rocking chair, while she sat at a nearby covered lawn chair. She knew I loved to rock and could be expected to sit there content for hours. My brother would down his drink and run off to play with the kids next door. I just sat, rocked and listened to Grandma talk about life when she was young. My favorite story was how her family received phone calls from the only phone in town at the general store. A call would come into the store; the owner would send a messenger up the steep hill to my grandmother’s house with the phone number of the calling party. Her father would go down to receive the call and relay any messages to the household when he got back. The day had not yet arrived when a man could call a woman while courting, let alone for a date. Poor Grandpa! If he wanted to see Grandma, he had to go to her house and visit in the “parlor” as they called it. No privacy! Hmmm?
Grandpa Rice told me of how he proposed to Grandma Rice at a local fair. They were with two other couples. Grandpa had told everyone he wanted to propose to my grandmother on the Ferris wheel. So one of his friends pretended to arrange a meeting at the Ferris wheel later that night. No one showed up except Grandma and Grandpa. Grandpa put on his charm and convinced Grandma to join him on the Ferris wheel. As they stopped at the top, he sang his proposal to my grandmother to the tune playing, “Bicycle Built for Two.” It was a best seller at the time, 1927. When I asked Grandpa Rice what the secret was to his long 58-year marriage, he retorted, “No man in his right mind should marry one woman for 58 years. He should marry 58 women for one year a piece!” Grandma just kissed the top of his bald head and gave it a pat.
Agnes Hogan is my Nana. She is 95 years old and going strong. Nana used to sing old songs to her grandchildren. She also taught us “Ce Gallop,” a dramatic game from her home country of Canada. The game is based on her childhood observation of Canadian Mounted Police practicing their cadence for annual parades in her small town of Coteau Station, Quebec. Nana also dressed her tables for the holidays with nice china and crystal atop linen tablecloths. Flatware aside the plates gave the table a little glitz. This is what her grandmother and her mother did. The tradition was carried by my mother and passed down to me. No Chinette for me on the holidays!
So thank you grandparents for sharing moments of your life. A dose of homespun memories does the soul good!