Wednesday, November 2, 2011


After my grandmother died in 1933, Grandfather married his second wife, Inez.  She had a sister named kate, whom I never met.  They wrote each other regularly and were close.  One December when I was about 5 years old, Inez presented me with a beautiful beaded bag, sent to me as a Christmas gift by her sister.  I was astonished that someone who never met me would be go generous with such a rare gift.  I felt reluctant and undeserving of such a kind tribute.  I still have it and keep it with another belonging to my grandmother.

The Beaded Bag from Baltimore

My Grandmother's Beaded Bag

Inez was entertaining as a storyteller.  Two of my favorites were "The Pears" and "The Tragedy of the Titanic," which I alternately requested each day.  She never refused and honed her stories for maximum dramatic effect.  I experienced the crescendo of hysterical expectation  when the children, Inez and her siblings, would beg their father for a bite of the forbidden pears ripening in a trunk in the hallway of their home.  Those pears daily grew more irresistable as they blew forth sweet fruity breath seducing everyone into olfactory madness.  "Please, Poppa, please may we try the pears?" was the repeated stanza in her heightening, frenetic childhood autobiography.  I delighted in it every time and squealed with laughter when they finally fell upon those pears.

"The Titanic" was a sad tale of all the many good people who perished on the doomed ship.  It was our little quiet ceremony of remembrance.  It gave us distance from tragedy and gratitude for that, but respect for its ravaging effect on living humans by the sheer numbers.

The Picture on Inez's Wall Used to Tell the Story

When I think of Inez, I think of feeding chickens, picking wild asparagus and making biscuits in a wood stove.  I think of the day her rooster spurred her on the wrist causing massive bleeding; I was there and ran for help.  I remember looking at the sun with my eyes closed and seeing the many colors the light became under my eyelids.  She believed in everyday magic and smiled big when I showed amazement.

She didn't wear makeup, wearing her long, graying hair back in a tuck, but fragrant floral-smelling powder always dressed her cheeks when she went out.  I don't think I will ever quite find that sweet scent anywhere again.  This is just a big thank-you to her for taking time to amuse a child.


  1. I'm sure she was as grateful for having you in her life as you are for having her in yours. People just didn't talk about it as much.
    I can imagine her hair and her face-powder. My grandmother had her long grey hair done in two braids which passed one another on top of her head. I used to try to do that with my brown braids and the effect was never the same.
    The beaded bags are beautiful!

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie’s Guide to Adventurous Travel

  2. The braids sound like Heidi. My mom tried that too and wound them in a circle on each side like I was Sonja Henie or something.

    I am the only one who liked Inez, her being a step-mother and all; but I was treated well and have good memories. We had good company together. Grandfather had good company as well.

  3. You always talked of her so kindly. Unless I'm mistaken I remember her too. (Is that possible? I remember seeing her at Grandaddy's house when we went for a visit one time - hair tucked in a bun and everything.)

    Thanks for pointing out those items were hers. I've seen them all my life and never knew/remembered who they belonged to.

  4. I love hearing stories from long ago, and reading stories about those stories. It's great that you are documenting them in the blog. I wish I had recorded my grandmother telling some of her tales.

  5. What a wonderful lady! Did they have children of their own?