That’s the day my grandmother was born. Tomorrow she will turn 101!!!
I wrote about her last year and by gum I’m doin’ it again this year. To me she is one of the people I love most in the world.
Think of all the changes a person that old has seen. From horse and buggy to the moon, to heart transplants, to women’s rights. She voted the first time she was old enough, which wasn’t all that long after women got the right in the first place. She’s voted in 20 presidential elections.
Grandma had three children, eight grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild(so far)
I could go on an on about all the people she has helped, and the love she has inspired.
I know that when she dies she’ll be in Heaven, but I’m gonna be a wreck for a while. Selfish of me, but that’s how it is.
Tomorrow at the nursing home we will be hanging out with her in the afternoon. For my birthday/Christmas gift I arranged for a barbershop quartet to come and serenade her. It’s going to be a surprise(I hope). I know one of the guys in the city barbershop chorus, he goes to my church. They usually send out groups mostly on Valentine’ Day, but can be hired at any time. So they’ll sing her a song and give her a box of candy and a rose. Then we will ask her what she wants, anything at all, to eat for supper, and go get it for her. Not a wild party, but fun. For her 99th birthday she had two slices of pizza and half a can of beer!
Happy Birthday Grandma, from your oldest grandchild
Not fair, Baker. You made me think about my parents, especially my dad, who also made that incredible life journey from horse and buggy to space flight, and that made me cry. And smile, though, too, so not all bad.
I hope your grandma has a happy birthday and I’m so glad she’s still her for you to cherish, as you so obviously do.
Great news, Baker. Give her a hug for us and our respects. You know, it would be a great idea for you to sit with her and have her tell you about her life on tape. It is wonderful to experience your affection and excitement for her. Our society seems to feel that elders are disposable. What wisdom we waste.
Let’s see . . . The year Granny Baker was born, Teddy Roosevelt won reelection; the IRT subway line in New York opened (as did the Trans-Siberian Railroad); the General Slocum burned in New York, killing more than 1,000; the Cadillac and Maxwell cars debuted; Marie Curie discovered radium; Helen Keller graduated college; the [“Meet Me in”] St. Louis Exposition opened; “Times Square” was born with the NY Times moving uptown; the ice-cream cone and French’s mustard debuted (though not together, thank goodness).
The big stars on Broadway that year were Maxine Elliott, Otis Skinner, Julia Marlowe and EH Sothern, Maude Adams, David Warfield, Julian Eltinge, Lillian Russell, John Drew, George M. Cohan, and Eddie Foy.
Also born in 1904 were Cecil Beaton, Cary Grant, Glenn Miller, Dr. Suess, Doris Eaton (also still living!), Salvador Dali, Fats Waller, Johnny Weissmuller, Peter Lorre, Count Basie, Greer Garson, Constance Bennett, and Moss Hart.
I love all the comments here. But Eve, oh boy, that was something! I may just print all these off and let folks read them when we visit tomorrow. Thanks to all. It’s hard to convey how much my grandmother means to me.
Awesome. I hope Grandma Baker enjoys her birthday party and the quartet! I like the idea of having her record some of her memories from her life. That would be quite a precious thing to pass down to future generations.
To those who have mentioned that my grandmother should write some memoirs, she actually have done a little along those lines.
She wrote about memories of Christmases past, how her family celebrated the holiday through the years. She also wrote a story about her religious history, calling it “History Of an Adult Confirmand” See, Grandma didn’t attend church regularly until she met her future husband, my grandfather. She wasn’t even baptized. She was baptized and confirmed as a Lutheran after marrying my grandfather and of course ended up as a pillar of the congregation they joined, here in Topeka. She’s now the oldest member of that congregation, but the funny thing is there is a person who’s been there longer than she has, some guy in his eighties who was born there. Grandma didn’t join until 1928.
I have three cassette tapes I recorded, of her reminicenses, in the late 1980’s. I should get on the stick and have them transcribed. In the last three or four years she has also been writing poems about family members, that include her memories and impressions of their life.
When I graduated from high school Grandma gave me a simple glass vase, etched with flowers. She got it from a cousin when she herself graduated high school, fifty years to the day before I did. I was the oldest grandchild, but I have no kids myself. So when my cousin’s oldest daughter(the oldest great-grandchild, graduated, I gave it to her, along with the story and genealogy of the whole thing. Hopefully that girl will pass it on in turn. So our family tries to keep stories alive.
Hey, I was about to come in here and post about the Slocum! She was eight when the Titanic went down, and she probably saw the headlines.
Anyway, another thing your cool grandmother has done is seen the rise and fall of a lot of historical trends and even nations. When she was born, kings and czars and emperors ruled over huge chunks of humanity–Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire, China, Japan, and many more places. She’s seen apartheid and the Soviet Union rise and then fall!
Two grandparents made it into their nineties, and one to 88, but they were all very urban (Nova Scotia–>Brooklyn, Chelsea, and Brooklyn), and I wonder if people in smaller cities saw more or fewer changes than they did. Grandpa remembered reciting speeches like the Gettysburg Address and Mark Antony’s funeral oration when he was 11 to raise money for War Bonds, and Grandma remembered dancing for ten cents with soldiers for charity in WWI. The same grandma left school at 15 to work for Western Union; the other one finished high school but then had to emigrate to America to find work as a maid during the Depression. I’d be interested in how your grandma was able to support herself when there were fewer opportunities for women.
My grandmother was, for a few years, a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse. It was then she met my grandfather. They got engaged, had a fight, broke up, then made up, and Grandpa wanted to get married right then. Grandma said no, she couldn’t marry without letting her parents know. So they waited until the next weekend. The two of them took a train to Liberty Missouri, which is one county over from Kansas City, so any legal notice wouldn’t even be in a KCMO paper, which Kansans might see. They got the license and were married by a minister in Kansas City, where my grandfather had gone to auto mechanics school. He hated farming and was the only one of his brothers who didn’t. They rode back to Kansas and Grandman stayed with her parents in Paxico, while he stayed at his boarding house in Topeka.
Why the subterfuge? She would have to quit her job if she got married. The two previous teachers had married older brothers of my grandfather, and the school supervisor had been heard to say they wouldn’t keep a teacher until all the Lietz boys got married. She quit at the end of the year and moved into Topeka with my grandfather. She was a housewife, and grandpa worked at a lot of things right through the Depression. Eventually he was hired at Santa Fe Railroads, and worked there long enough to retire. Grandma taught school again. The city paper recently printed an article about that too! Sorry, it takes free registration, but IMHO it’s worth it.