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U3A Writing: Grandma And Granda

Sisters Sylvia Abele and Irene Grundy recall with great affection and warm humour their father's parents.

Sylvia Abele

My memories are of one set of grandparents. I never knew Mother’s parents – they ‘fell out’ before I was born. However, I have strong and loving memories of my father’s parents.

Grandma was a very sweet-natured and gentle lady with a lovely genteel voice and a neat figure. She was a beautiful singer too, as were her two sons, my father and my uncle. Grandma was in the church choir for many years. She had an organ in her living room and spent many hours playing songs or hymns. I can remember her singing ‘Home Sweet Home’ at my wedding reception in January, 1955.

The memories of her are flooding back as I write this, and I wonder what today’s young ladies would think of this particular memory – Grandma’s hair was always white! At least, as long as I can remember. Every morning she would sit in her chair at the side of the coal fire, and when the fire was red enough, she would take up her curling tongs, push them into the red glow, then remove them and blow on the hot metal.

She would take a tress of hair and curl it round the tongs. This routine carried on until she had curled all her head of hair. The final touch was to put a fine hairnet over her hair. What a procedure! No special shampoos, conditioners, etc. in those days.

Grandma and Granda had a beautiful garden in Scotland. The garden was surrounded by the local golf links, the beach and a wonderful view from their four bedroom bungalow, which was named ‘Greenvale’.

The garden – thanks to Grandma’s hard work – was full of many different flowers. Hundreds of sweet peas grew against the hedges and walls. I have always loved sweet peas; the perfume is stunning to me. On our annual four-week summer holiday to Greenvale Grandma filled every room in the bungalow with vases of sweet peas. This is a scent that I’ll never forget.

Grandma, however, sweet as she was, wouldn’t stand any nonsense from her grandchildren. She had 12 in all. One day there were seven or eight of us round the table, and grandma was serving dinner. She announced, “We’re having a roast goose today for a wee change.”

I piped up, “I don’t like goose, Grandma.”

She then asked me, “Do you like chicken?”

“Oh yes, I like chicken,” I replied.

Her reply to me was, “Well, this goose tastes just like chicken,” and continued serving.

She could control children in a quiet, firm manner, and I never saw her lose her temper. A very sweet-natured lady. We all loved her to bits.

Granda owned three butcher’s shops. Therefore there was no shortage of meat for dinner, even during food rationing. He used to bring home freshly minced liver for Tony, their blue Persian cat, every day.

I loved Granda. Another thing we three kids loved was his tattooed hula-hula girl on his right forearm. He would work the muscles in his arm until the dancer wiggled her hips and danced. We all thought he was very clever.

Granda liked a ‘wee whisky’ now and again. One day he brought a bottle of whisky home and hid it in the bottom of the grandfather clock. However, Grandma was NOT in favour of alcohol and happened to find the whisky, whereupon she took it into the kitchen and poured it all down the sink – without a word.

What lovely, sunny memories I have of those everlasting summers and Grandma and Granda - and the sweet peas. (Not forgetting the goose.)

Irene Grundy

I also remember Grandma as a sweet, white-haired, neatly dressed, beautiful lady with a beautiful complexion.

She was a lovely baker. I remember wonderful afternoon teas with the table groaning with the many plates filled with homemade goodies. The only meat I ever remember is mince and tatties.

My Granda was very tall and slim and a typical dour Scot. He loved his golf and only had to cross a small stream (or burn) at the bottom of the garden to be on the golf links. He once fell in it on the way home!

The middle finger on his right hand had no fingernail. He used to tell us it was shot off by the Germans, but in fact he’d got it caught in the breech of a gun and pulled it off.

He had some great sayings. One of my favourites when the miner’s strike was on was, “They should put all the leaders in a locked room until they find a solution. And they should give them a good dose of salts first.”

Another was, “You’re always safe to give a laddie a kick in the pants because he’s either going to mischief or coming from it.”

He loved his crosswords, as I do. One day he was stuck and couldn’t finish it. I went to help him. One line was ‘got up for a flower’, four letters. “It’s ‘ROSE’,” I said.

“No wonder I couldn’t finish it,” said Granda, “it’s ‘IRIS’.”

That was my Grandma and Granda.


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