Thinking back on the years spent with my paternal grandmother I recall her fun ways with words which my family calls Gram-isms, and though not original with her they bring back good memories. The first one that comes to mind is, “A lick and a promise.” That is what we said we had to whip our hair into shape or wash our faces when going somewhere on short notice. It meant we gave a quick brushing to make our appearance into a more or less acceptable form, while promising to do it up properly when we had more time.
The first time she told me the following riddle, I did the math so intently and came up with a good sum, although it was not correct. It seems like she had to tell it to me once or twice more, quite slowly, before I got it.
As I was going to St. Ives
I met a man with seven wives,
Each wife had seven sacks,
each sack had seven cats,
Each cat had seven kits:
kits, cats, sacks and wives,
How many were going to St. Ives?
When Gram’s own mother (my great-grandmother Hattie) purchased a pump organ and had it freighted by wagon from a town 40 miles from the ranch home, Hattie did not have any musical background, other than she liked and missed music. She taught herself to play, after a fashion. One day Hattie came in from working in the orchard and her son was standing on a stool, singing for all he was worth, a song he wrote himself, “My mother bought an organ; she didn’t know how to play. She banged and banged and banged ’til she banged it all away.”
I never heard if that theatrical piece earned him a spanking or if they shared a good laugh. From what I have been told about Hattie, I imagine it was the former.
Gram was a “Stanley lady.” She sold Stanley Home Products usually at home parties. When I was in the seventh or eighth grade a hostess gift was a two and one half gallon metal roasting pan and I wanted one. She gave me the supplies I needed to host a book party and I sold enough to achieve my goal. I still have — and use — that roaster. It was an old gold color and it is still quite recognizable. That was just one of the times she showed me how to work for something that I wanted.
Somehow the title grandma got shortened to Gram and it stuck. I’ve always thought it would be an honor to be called Gram, but I was given Grandma Peggy. On a recent trip to Texas to see our younger son and his family, he brought up that it should be changed, as he said maybe to Gram, and his 4-year-old daughter chimed in with, “Yes, Gram Cracker.”
And, so I am.
Peggy can be reached through www.PeggySanders.com. ❖