I was rummaging through my closet for something this morning, and found something completely unrelated to what I was actually looking for. Have you ever been looking for one thing, and found something else, and then you get so wrapped up in the thing you actually found that you totally forget the original thing? Following? Yeah it's called Adult-ADD.
Anyway, onto the point of my story.
In my closet this morning, buried deep in a box, I found this little book that my maternal grandmother had given me in 1995. It is a Q&A type of book about her life. It is so goddam fascinating. I hadn't read it in years. It's both an irreplaceable family heirloom, as well as a wonderful time capsule.
It's amazing to me that in a relatively short period of time in the earth's history, we have come from no running water and electricity to the major technological breakthroughs we experience, like right now, enjoying the internet. Other things that seem to be common experience right now for us all are overblown kids' birthday parties, too many cars, enormous houses, overpaid CEOs, greenhouse gases and texting. And I can't say these advances are something we can be proud about. (Except for the texting thing. That is pretty cool.)
Reading something like her memories can't help but make you long for the simpler times. Without the lack of running water part. But seriously, would your kid look at you like you were stark raving mad if you told him to go outside and shoot marbles? Only if it had a turbo-blast, electronically infused shooting tube that glowed in the dark would kids these days even give it a second thought. OK. I just used the phrase "kids these days." How sad is that.
Anyway, here's a sampling of some of the questions and her answers verbatim.
Q: Describe the best birthday you ever had. Why?
A: I don't remember celebrating birthdays, except my 16th. I met your grandfather.
Q: When you were given money, what did you spend it on? What could you buy for a quarter?
A: You could go to the movies for a quarter, but I never had any money of my own until I went to work.
Q: What was the naughtiest thing you ever did?
A: Smoked corn silk with some of the other neighborhood kids.
Q: What was the worst spanking or punishment you received and why did you deserve it?
A: My father threw me on the bed probably for getting in his way.
Q: What was your favorite outdoor activities?
A: Playing on the street corners with the other neighborhood kids and shooting marbles with my younger brothers and roller skating
Q: Did the kids ever tease you? What about? Why?
A: Yes they used to tease me because my parents were foreigners.
Q: What kind of appliances did you have to cook with, wash clothes and light the house?
A: We had oil lamps then we got electricity. We cooked on a coal stove in the winter and gas in the summer. We used a wash board then had a water power washer.
Q: Were you ever on a school team?
A: We didn't have sports for girls.
Q: What do you remember most about being a teenager?
A: Meeting my friends on Main Street and walking up and down while the boys were on the other side of Main Street.
Q: What attracted you to Grandpa the most?
A: He was always a lot of fun. And I guess I just needed someone to like me.
Q: What did you want to be when you grew up?
A: I always wanted to go on to school and be a teacher, but I didn't get to go to only 2 years of high school. (I was told by my mom later that when my grandmother was in school, she was pulled out by her parents so that she could help her mother out at home with the rest of the younger children.)
All of these answers were written by Rose Agnes Matty Cooper, 1913-2002. The 7th child out of 10, born to John and Anna Mattey in Zanesville, Ohio.