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Over Here: 95 - Grossmutter

...Grossmutter, who spoke not a single word of English, would sit, often for eight or ten hours a day, in a straight-back chair against the small wall between the pantry opening and the door to our tiny enclosed back porch...

Ron Pataky continues his engaging autobiography.

Grandma's mother, whom we all called grossmutter, was with us for about five years until her death at the age of a hundred and one. Grossmutter, who spoke not a single word of English, would sit, often for eight or ten hours a day, in a straight-back chair against the small wall between the pantry opening and the door to our tiny enclosed back porch. Like Johnny Cash, as yet unknown at the time, she always wore black. And she always wore a black, turban-like head "bonnet," the likes of which I'd never seen before (or've seen since). Grandma told me one day that it was because she had no hair underneath.

Grossmutter would nod and smile eight to ten hours a day - to anyone and everyone. She was a sweet thing, and every year made what seemed like half of Mansfield a pair of slippers for Christmas. The tops were knitted, and the soles rubber, cut into perfect, pre-measured foot sizes from an old inner tube. And we all wore them ... at least on Christmas Day!

(Grossmutter might be in the kitchen as early as 6 a.m. but she was up and gone to bed before seven at night. I remember wondering why anyone would voluntarily miss Amos and Andy. It must have been the language barrier thing).

Only the Wednesday night "Singing Club" would ever cause Grandpa, Gordie, and me to miss our nightly favorites on radio. The line-up changed with the various nights of the week, of course, much the same as programs do now. But all three of us knew the schedules by heart. Come to think of it, we had to. No one had ever heard of anything like a "program list." Even the daily papers, such as they were, didn't carry a list of evening programs. Trial and error was the method; and once you found a favorite on the dial, you bloody well remembered it! (To keep America from going crazy, though, the government apparently made sure we could never get more than two or three stations on any given evening. And one of them was generally too static-filled to enjoy much. It was, to be sure, considerably more simplified than it would later be. And a notch or two short of the fidelity we enjoy today).

Mr. Keene Tracer of Lost Persons was a dandy. So were Inner Sanctum and The Shadow. Any one of the three would keep you on the edge of your floor from start to finish. Comedy was big, too - Duffy's Tavern, Fibber McGee and Molly, The Great Gildersleeve, Jack Benny - we listened to them all. Even Grandma chuckled from her inevitable sink-side post, where stuff such as washing out pots and crocks, and pulling "chickee meat" from its bones, kept her busy.

Perhaps one night a month, though, Grandpa and Grandma decided it was time to sing a few hymns. (Not to be confused with the Singing Club, which met every Wednesday. This event featured only Grandpa, Grandma, Gordie, and me).
Into the dining room we'd troop, sans anything resembling refreshment, hymnals at the ready. There, for the next hour or so, we would sing hymns, the four of us, in German!! (After perhaps ten minutes, I'd begin to wonder if I really had a friend in Jesus after all!).

But Grandpa and Grandma did love the Lord. And I'm not at all sure that isn't one of the reasons I love the Lord today!
Sure, it would interrupt our radio entertainment for the night. But so would've a violent earthquake. It's just that we didn't have earthquakes!

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