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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Gertrude Gaddis Price

It's October, 1966. Forty years ago, almost to the day. This is the Bloomington grandmother, holding her first-born great-grandchild, my first child, daughter G. By this time the cane (you can see it leaning against the chair) was a fixture. But the hat? What was that about? I don't remember questioning it; it must have been part of her "going out" uniform. She lived by herself, about half a mile away; my father routinely brought her to our house for the Sunday evening meal. She would always jump out of the car before the ignition was turned off. Now I realize she was probably excited; she had been waiting all week for this! So now we are in my parents' living room, in the big brick house. She always sat in that chair when she came over; I imagine most of the other options were too low and squishy - hard to get in and out of.

Ever since I was very small, people would see us together and remark how much we looked alike. I think it was meant as a compliment, but I never took it as such. I never could imagine why anyone would say that! Grandmother (that's what we called her) was always cheerful. She never even raised her voice except when she was in "back seat driver" mode. "Look out Herbert!", I can still hear her say to Fafa. She never learned to drive a car herself. We always took the bus when we went on our expeditions downtown to the movies, or to the five and ten. For groceries, the Piggly Wiggly was just two blocks away. She loved her bridge games and her crossword puzzles, and she was an enthusiastic Cubs fan.

Grandmother was the youngest of twelve children. I never knew any of them, but I used to love asking her to name them all. They had lived in nearby Carlock, Illinois, the town founded by her mother's family, and a streetcar-ride away for Sunday visits with her own young boys - my father and his brother, "Junior". She was a college graduate - unusual for a woman of her generation, though I never remember anyone commenting on it, and she taught school in a one-room country schoolhouse somewhere in Indiana for a few years. She loved to tell us about the first time an automobile went by; they could hear it in the distance, and she had plenty of time to round up the children and herd them outside to watch it pass.

She wasn't a traveler. She left Bloomington on only a few occasions. She and Fafa went to New York when my parents were married there in 1939. And they visited us in New Orleans when we living there during the war. The minute they arrived I announced: "I can count to 100 - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5...." That became a family story! We all had to move to a hotel the night the water rose and threatened to flood our corrugated metal "boat house". And they spent a few winter vacations in Coral Gables, Florida in the late forties and early fifties. She and Fafa both hated winter.

I'm a lot like her. In more ways than I'd like to admit.


Blogger SuperMom said...

Glad you referred us here in your above post-- LOVE the whole post and wish it were much, much longer! I need to save/print all these for my kids so that they can get an idea of what their great-great grandparents were like.

Mom always talked so much about Marie that I feel that, at times, Grandmother Price got the short end of the stick. I do remember her talking about spending the night w/her on occasion and how sweet and loving she was but that was about it.

When did she die? Are she and Grandfather Price buried in B-ton w/Grandmommy and Grandfather?

9:59 AM  
Blogger Searching said...

Hello Sixty-Five,
A lovely remembrance of your paternal grandmother. But my first reaction to stumbling across this was "Prices!" I've been engaged in literary research which slightly touches on the Robert Price family but had no luck finding them. Once I started looking at the Herbert Prices I was led here. Doubtless you can help me with some information and, if you're willing, I hope you'll get in touch. My name is Richard Cohen and my email address is: rjoshcohen@hotmail.com

8:44 PM  

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