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  1. #1
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    Stories our grandparents told us

    So I am flying back to the UK this weekend. Grandmother is on her way out and having not been back to see her, last remaining grandparent, for 2 years, I decided that rather than turn up for a funeral, I would instead try to get there before she is gone. In thinking about her, and having spent a lot of time with her growing up as father traveled the world drilling for oil, I recall all the stories she told me of her own youth.

    Growing up in Scotland, an award winning dancer, and yes she had the medals kept in her 48 kilogram handbag, she was one of 8 children, the second youngest. A typical jock, stubborn as the day is long, quick to forgive, but never forgot, she had a list as long as your arm of the people she had a complaint against. I bet even today in her moments of clarity she is seething about the young English boy who joined her class, that came 1st in the Maths test, meaning for the first time ever she was not top of the class.

    On holiday with her family and her brother came rushing into the house with a duck egg he had found. He placed it on the table full of himself, and went to find more. So she grabbed the egg, and put it back where he found it and sure enough he "discovered" it again. She did this 14 times until he realised that instead of 15 eggs, he still only had one and a lot of wasted effort. A valuable lesson was learnt as later in life he moved to Canada and having bought a small dairy in Manitoba, grew that company to being somewhat of a dairy magnate in Canada, having learnt the lesson about the perils of loose inventory control.

    She was the first person in the world to run the mile in under 4 minutes, which running through Dundee to get to work, and seeing the clock tower all the way, something she maintained all of her life including writing to Roger Bannister in 1954 to tell him he was not the first at all, but that she had broken that record in her heals 20 years previously. She never heard back.

    She liked football, supporting west ham, having been stationed in upton park with the WAAFs hoisting balloons into the sky to bring down Jerry in his bomber. She memories of those dark days were mostly happy of dances, playing tricks on the old battle ax sgt who her and her friends would play tricks on, spicing up her food with pepper, or locking her in the furnace room. They ended when she saw her three friends blown up by a bomb dropped from the sky. She moved onto to instrument checking on the hurricanes and spitfires seemingly spending most of he days being taxied around the airfield on the wings of the planes as the young pilots tried to impress, one of which would have a devastating effect on her life.

    On a rare visit back to Scotland, sat in the pictures with her mum and sister, a lady behind started to get irritated at them chatting and talking having not been together for a few years. Her mother finally had enough and clobbered the lady on the head with her handbag, completely forgetting that there was a blackout torch in it which rendered the complainant silent. Granny thought that was very funny! Jocks.

    During the war she met and married the man who would be my grandfather, a commander of a mine sweeper. When the war was finished, he broke his back, and wheelchair bound for the rest of his life, life was tough for them, especially as her first true love, a Pilot, that had proposed to her just before his bomber was shot down suddenly reappeared having been released from a POW camp and turned up at their marital home to find her married and with a young daughter. We only heard this a decade ago, and it explained a lot.

    In her handbag she kept the most curious of things, including a few sheets of gold embossed Adolf Hitler personalized note paper which she thought would be worth something one day, not realising that years of ponds cold cream and foundation smeared all over it rendered it worthless, not that it is worth anything anyway.

    Lots more. It's her birthday today, 94. She lied about her age religiously, always claiming she was 5 years younger. Fit as a fiddle all of her years, until 2000. Someone had discovered her real age (sounds funny to say that we never knew, but we didn't) and for her birthday party which she was saying was her 75th, she had a birthday cake saying Happy 80th Birthday on it, which was her real age. The next day she took ill, and has spent the last 14 years firstly in hospitals and then nursing homes. It was almost as if knowing that people knew her real age made her age 5 yrs over night from a sprightly elder lady running around town shopping and socialising to a frail old lady.

    What stories do you recall from your grandparents?
    Originally Posted by bsnub "No wonder I drive a tesla"

  2. #2
    I am in Jail

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    Hope you spend some quality time with her before her passing.

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    Member galaxytrash's Avatar
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    no stories as good as those ones, pseudolus.

    i only really remember 1 grandmother, but if my dad was alive he would have been 103 in july.

    he quit school in grade 8 and drove the "school bus" in the winter. just a small wooden structure on runners with a small wood stove to keep the kids warm, drawn by a team of horses of course. (would've been in the 20's)

    just lost my mom last year....they both had good long lives. a lot of hard work but not too much heartache. i wish i had asked more questions about their youth when i had the chance.

    thanks for the good post, pseudolus.

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    An interesting insight into her world, Mr P. And I too hope you get to chat with her for some time before she shuffles off this mortal coil.

    My grandfather died in his early nineties and was always good for a chat then. He surprised me once by commenting that it was good when electricity came along...

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    Shame of it is, I've just been told that she will be put on a morphine pump soon which is odd as she does not have cancer, but apparently she is in pain. However, I am sure that these morphine pumps are just a legal method to euthanasia people. It's what they did with my dad when he died of cancer; one day bright and chatty and the next asleep, dead in 3 days. I have implored the people in the UK to fight them doing this as otherwise I will turn up to her sleeping her way to death.

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    I am in Jail

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    She maybe in extreme pain, possibly better to relieve the pain, give her peace.

    My Father was given Morphine on his death bed, better to see him die in peace than agony.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pseudolus View Post
    Shame of it is, I've just been told that she will be put on a morphine pump soon which is odd as she does not have cancer, but apparently she is in pain. However, I am sure that these morphine pumps are just a legal method to euthanasia people. It's what they did with my dad when he died of cancer; one day bright and chatty and the next asleep, dead in 3 days. I have implored the people in the UK to fight them doing this as otherwise I will turn up to her sleeping her way to death.
    I tend to agree with you on that issue.

    My Mum nursed in the Red Cross during WW2 and told me how morphine was regularly given to "no hope" cases, young guys with serious injuries that were beyond then resourses of cure or recovery.

    They often did ask for morphia.

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    94 - bless her.

    Enjoy a safe trip and a nice visit with your family.

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    Member galaxytrash's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=pseudolus;2900273. A valuable lesson was learnt as later in life he moved to Canada and having bought a small dairy in Manitoba, grew that company to being somewhat of a dairy magnate in Canada, having learnt the lesson about the perils of loose inventory control.

    [/QUOTE]


    do you know where in manitoba? (if you don't mind me asking....(i was born there))

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    Sounds like a WWII film script from the Boulting brothers.
    A fascinating insight into life during another time. Not many left with those kind of stories to tell. Hope your trip goes well and you can manage some quality time with her. She has left many treasured memories I'm sure.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Heart of Gold and a Knob of butter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by galaxytrash
    do you know where in manitoba? (if you don't mind me asking....(i was born there))
    His eventual head office was in Winnipeg. Long before I was born though. Moved there in the early 1950's and sold up in the 80's to some big conglomerate.

    I remember him visiting in the early 80's when he had just retired; the gifts he bought for us young nippers were out of this world (VHS each, walkmans, the full shabonk).

    Quote Originally Posted by chassamui
    Sounds like a WWII film script from the Boulting brothers.
    It is in my mind to get her story down on paper. There are a lot of other twists and turns as well. Eldest daughter (my aunt) was the center page of the Daily Mail after surviving being hit by a truck in Aberdeen, in front of my gran and mother, pushed through a wall on a bridge, fell 20 meters, and still survived. Doctors said my aunt would never have children, so imagine the headlines in the Mail when she did! This going back 45 years I guess "Miracle Child" or something like that.

    Ahh cripes I'm filling up now! Best have a pint or something.

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    Sounds like a 'robust' family.

  13. #13
    Philippine Expat Davis Knowlton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pseudolus View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by galaxytrash
    do you know where in manitoba? (if you don't mind me asking....(i was born there))
    His eventual head office was in Winnipeg. Long before I was born though. Moved there in the early 1950's and sold up in the 80's to some big conglomerate.

    I remember him visiting in the early 80's when he had just retired; the gifts he bought for us young nippers were out of this world (VHS each, walkmans, the full shabonk).

    Quote Originally Posted by chassamui
    Sounds like a WWII film script from the Boulting brothers.
    It is in my mind to get her story down on paper. There are a lot of other twists and turns as well. Eldest daughter (my aunt) was the center page of the Daily Mail after surviving being hit by a truck in Aberdeen, in front of my gran and mother, pushed through a wall on a bridge, fell 20 meters, and still survived. Doctors said my aunt would never have children, so imagine the headlines in the Mail when she did! This going back 45 years I guess "Miracle Child" or something like that.

    Ahh cripes I'm filling up now! Best have a pint or something.
    Good thread. Your grandmother is about 18 months older than my Mom.

    I remember my grandparents talking about life during the World Wars - my grandfather fought in both - in France in WW1 and in North Africa in WW2. He would rarely talk of the wars, but when he did the stories of WW1 trench warfare were quite gruesome. My grandmother was a nurse's aide in a burn ward in WW1, as was my Mom in WW2.

    Of course, the daily impact of the World Wars was less in the US, certainly nothing like London in WW2; still, a fascinating period of history in which to have lived.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Davis Knowlton
    My grandmother was a nurse's aide in a burn ward in WW1, as was my Mom in WW2.
    I was reading a book recently, and for the life of me I can not recall what, but the woman in it was a Nurse in war time who was hanged later for murdering her husband. It pointed out that the nurses and women in the WW1 and WW2 are often the forgot ones, but the things they experienced and endured left marks on them just as horrendous as the men fighting had. Trench warfare typified by hours and days of boredom intemingled with pant browning fear. The Nurses though had 24 hr constant lines of patching people together.

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    Sad really all the family stories that were never passed down due to death during war.

    When I was young child I was introduced to a lady whom my Mom had befriended. Upon introduction I shook her hand and said hello as my parents had trained me.
    I had never seen anyone with a bluish number tattooed down their wrist.

    I believe that the first question out of my mouth when I met that lady was , "Is that your telephone number ?"
    Quite surprised my Mom and the lady looked at each other as my Mom steered me away and told me we would talk about that at another time..."Now go play outside."

    I never forgot. Imagine the stories that lady could have told her children.

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    Exact words from my grandfather..Always score more runs than anybody else in Cricket and don't yield an inch in Rugby

    Exact words from my grandmother.. Please don't hit anybody when you play rugby...promise me you won't...etc etc

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    My grandparents are long gone now, but I have recollections of certain things they liked to mention from time to time.

    My paternal grandfather was a Polish immigrant who came to the USA in 1912 as a boy. As the story goes, there were arrangements made to cross the Atlantic on a steamer by himself and to meet up with a relative in New York city. The ship he traveled on was called The Rotterdam, and they were on the north Atlantic the night the Titanic went down. Their ship heard the distress calls, but sadly was not in a position to offer assistance in time. He walked with a severe limp due an injury he suffered when an ambulance he was driving had an accident during WW1. He went on to settle in San Francisco and became the head mechanic at a large car dealership for many years.

    My maternal grandmother was born in the 1890s and grew up in the remote settlement of Red Lodge, Montana. Her favorite stories sounded like wild west tales. They lived in a log cabin and one incident involved an indian who came to the door one day and tried to abduct her. She also liked to show off the photo of her as a teen riding on a stage coach sitting up top with the driver.

    My maternal grandfather grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah. He always liked to reminisce about weekends spent at an entertainment venue out on the Great Salt Lake called Saltair. This was the in place to be for young and old. They would go there for dancing and music, and for swimming in the lake. The salt content is very high and makes for a high degree of buoyancy. He liked to joke about the old men who would spend a sunny weekend afternoon laying on their backs and floating in the water, while reading the newspaper and smoking their cigars. Like them, the old Saltair pavilion is long gone too.

    Saltair circa 1900


  18. #18
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    My grandfather on my mothers side died when I was almost two. My other grandparents died before that.

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    Great story, pseudolus...And a wonderful tribute to your grandmother...Happy Birthday...

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    I hope ya make it mate.

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    Thailand Expat misskit's Avatar
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    My grandfather often told this story.

    His grandparents were German immigrants to the US.

    At the end of World War II, he was drafted and sent to Germany where he worked as a guard at an Allied prison camp. He spoke a little German and soon found some of his relatives, ones he had heard his mother speak of, were being held in the camp. The conditions in the camp were terrible and the prisoners didn't have enough to eat. My grandfather would bring food and water for his relatives everyday. He would also bring chocolate for them. After the camp was closed, he lost track of them.

    He sent a photo home to my grandmother and mother of he and a little girl at the camp. The girl was the same age as my mother at the time. In the photo the girl was holding a chocolate bar. My mother cried when she saw the photo. She wanted her father to come home to give her a chocolate bar.

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    Didn't make it. She died a few minutes before I got on the plane. Here for the funeral though.

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    Thailand Expat misskit's Avatar
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    Sorry to hear your granny passed on.

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    Sorry to hear you missed her.

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