Thinking back on the years spent with my paternal grandmother I recall her fun ways with words that 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 when 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 hair 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 she had it moved by wagon from Buffalo Gap, S.D., a town 45 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 2 1/2-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.
When my grandkids came along they call me Grandma or Gram or Grandma Peggy, depending on the day and the kids. I’ve always thought it would be an honor to be called Gram. While talking this over with grandkids, a four-year-old granddaughter chimed in with her preference concerning the name Gram. She modified it to, “Gram Cracker,” adding to the many names to which I respond.