I came up with a few thoughts about Grandma Lil and her upcoming 117th birthday.
There are so many memories of her, I hardly know where to begin. I look back and I realize that I myself am a wiser and stronger woman for having known her and that my older children Ron and Kate were very lucky to have known and lived in the same household with her--a unique experience indeed. My late husband, Wendell was a wonderful husband, father and grandfather and Grandma Lil played a very big part in his life and I know in my heart that she helped shape him into the great man he became.
Wendell always told Grandma she was a" good cooker"and that she was. When Wendell and I were dating she would have a lovely Sunday dinner for us. I usually came over right after church and she would have everything ready.Grandma always wanted to make sure you had enough to eat encouraging you to have seconds.Wendell was used to having her make goodies when I married him. He always had a sweet tooth and he delighted in all the different goodies she made. She was noted for her wine drop cookies, brown sugar tarts, lemon sponge pudding and her yummy apple pie to name a few.
The whole family loved her chili sauce and her higdom -both delicious favorites that were on our breakfast table.Wendell loved both items on his eggs and he had all of us eating our eggs that way.The sweet pickles were like no others- simply delicious. I wonder if all the pickle making she did over the years had anything to do with her pet name LilyPickle?
The one thing that Grandma Lil taught me and this one tops the list -stretching that almighty dollar.She always made me laugh when she referred to her pocketbook as Fort Knox.She gave me tips on grocery shopping like clipping coupons and always looking for the weekly specials. She taught me how to peel potatoes so you didn't cut off too much skin- making a meal out of not much and having meals planned ahead-she always peeled the potatoes in the afternoon before the evening meal. Meat and potatoes were almost always a must. Leftovers were always utilized and one of my favorites was warmed up potatoes sliced and fried and if you were short a potato or two add a slice of bread soaked in milk- sometimes we would add an onion for flavor.
I think Grandma was a little disappointed to find out that I already knew how to cook and bake, being the oldest girl out of nine children I learned to cook at an early age. Grandma Lil always canned everything and that was something I learned from her. I had helped my mother pack canning jars etc., but had never actually done canning from start to finish. I remember she and Wendell loved the canned pork and she loved sweet corn, canned or fresh. I know she encouraged me to try and make watermelon pickles and crab apple jelly which I did and they really turned out good.
As far as her celebrating her birthday with Merle I do not know- she may have before I came into the family. I do know she went up and stayed with Merle and Viola on occasion when Wendell and I were first married. I knew that Grandma's birthday and his were the same day for she once told me a story about when she was a little girl- she had asked her Aunt Nell if she was making something for a baby- apparently Aunt Nell did not want to tell her what she was making because she told Grandma in a firm voice NO- but Grandma being a smart girl remembered the incident and realized later when Merle was born that she indeed had been making something for a baby but she did not want Grandma the little girl to know. Grandma Lil was seven years old when Merle was born.
Grandma often made the comment that her sister Ethel had grandchildren born on her birthday that being David Lochner and Chris Kinsella and that Gladys her daughter had Chic on Ethel's birthday the 30th of July. She thought that was kind of comical.
Grandma Lil on her 79th birthday picked a cucumber from the garden. The year was 1971. It was a beautiful fall and Wendell had added on to the barn and was able to finish the project before the cold weather set in. Ronnie was a year and a half and the picture I have of him is one of him sitting in a bed of marigolds by the milk house. It was taken the first of November just before Grandma's birthday.I remember her picking that cucumber out of the garden and stating she had never ever picked a cucumber on her birthday before. Of course we usually have a killing frost by then -I just remember how astonished she was.
On her 80th birthday Aunt Sylva and her family came down and brought her a decorated cake which I have a picture of. As she got older she would often comment that she was so old and all her friends were gone and she wished sometimes that some of them could be around for her to visit with.
On some birthdays she would spend it at the Oddfellows Lodge Hall. Grandma was doing her civic duty by serving on the election board and if the day wasn't on her birthday it was near the date. She looked forward to Election Day because she got to see everyone who voted. She would get up really early and make her delicious scalloped potatoes in her green casserole dish -scalloped potatoes- Wendell could make them really yummy too. I remember Grandma was so very fond of her green casserole dish- it was just the perfect size for her scalloped potatoes.She would so enjoy the luncheon with the other election board ladies and Gladys who lived just around the corner would come down and join them. Gladys at some point later on also worked on the election board.
I also understand that Grandma was one of the first women from the Town of Lisle to exercise her right as a woman to vote.Women of course were not allowed to vote until the amendment was passed and added to our Constitution.
My last memory that I will share with you is about My kids and her. Ronnie would often climb up into her bed and lay beside her- He loved doing this. He was a very busy boy -he was always climbing and getting into things.Grandma would love it when he would climb into bed with her, sometimes it was difficult because it was usually covered with books as everyone knows- she loved to read. Often when Ronnie would get into her things or mess with her plants Grandma would say "you little pill"and I would quickly retrieve him before he did any damage -she would say"he just likes to get into things,but we love him just the same."
Kathleen, when she was little, would run errands for her and both of the kids would help her with her stockings because it was hard for her to put them on. She was always so appreciative and loving toward them. Once in a while she would get upset with them and she would say "See here now-now what makes you do that."
With that thought -Rest in Peace Dear Grandma Lil on your 117th birthday. We love you still on your 25th year gone from earth and we know that you are with all your loved ones watching over us.
Picture One: Aunt Lil in the kitchen, 1970
Picture Two: Aunt Lil and Ron
Picture Three: Ron in the marigolds early November, 1971, when the cucumber was found…!
Picture Four: Aunt Lil in 1972 on her 80th Birthday
Picture Five: : Aunt Lil and Ron