Sunday, July 21, 2013

Grandma was Quite a Girl

As we’re preparing to go to my childhood home to reunite my mom and dad in the niche overlooking the Santa Clara valley we picked out nearly 8 years ago, it is the perfect time to do a little reflecting on my mother’s life.  Last month we spent some time sorting through the “stuff” in my mother’s home and I ran across this book that I remember giving her more than 30 years ago when my children were young.  I’d seen it in her book case, along with at least a gazillion other books, but never thought to open it up to see if she’d completed any of it.  Imagine my surprise when I did just that and found that she had, indeed, written some thoughts in the book. 


So here’s some thoughts from my mother, Geraldine Martin Levy.

Family Tree

My mother was never close to her dad but she always told me his father’s name was Guy Martin.  Actually, his father’s name was Robert Lewis Martin and his brother was Guy Martin.  And his mother’s name was Frances Maria Brooks.  I’m glad I was able to clear that up for her before she passed away.

And one other picture from the book.

Remember Mother

I like that she actually put a floor plan of the house!

And some of the information she completed.

My first day in school:  John Muir Grammar School, Fresno, California [interesting, I went to John Muir Junior High School]
The games we played:  Tag, ball, hopscotch – just about what children still play
My first “paddling” – and why!  The first I remember was when playing with the hose in front and squirting anyone who tried to pass
My first injury:  Can never remember any injuries other than scrapes & bruises
My nicest neighbor:  Bernice – the teenage girl next door

On the “favorites in my memory page” she says her favorite color is blue, favorite flower is roses and springflowers, favorite perfume Cinnabar, favorite day of the year Christmas, favorite time of day 8:00 p.m. and favorite musical instrument organ.  I think she was biased because my dad played the organ.

Mom’s favorite Aunt was “my grandfather’s sister Ann who raised me for five years (from 10-15) and treated me with love & kindness”.  That would have been Anna Teresa Fitzgerald Sronce and the reason for my middle name of Ann.

She had no favorite Uncle but did talk about her favorite cousins.  “Loraine & Doris Feurstein.  Loraine 18 mos. older & Doris 18 mos. younger then I was.  Their mother Viola was my mother’s sister”. 

Ahh, and then she met my dad and wrote about it on the page Happiness is a Man Called “Grandpa”.

I met him at a high school dance Jan. 1944.  I was in love at first sight!  Our first date basketball & dance, his favorite nickname for me Bunny, we were engaged Dec. 1949.  We married on Sept 3, 1950 in Fresno at 8:30 at home of Alan & Hazel Dick (he was my mother’s cousin) and I wore white lace over white satin, the Best Man was Robert Levy.  Our honeymoon: Highlands Inn, Carmel, Calif. for one week.  The first place we lived 555 Forest Ave., Palo Alto.  Our first fight can’t remember.

Then she randomly completed other sections of the book saying she was an only child, she had her tonsils out when she was about 5, she thought she was old enough to wear a bra when she was 12, and she got her first traffic ticket when she was in her mid twenties.  And she first tried lipstick at 12, smoked a cigarette at 16, had her first drink at 18, and her first date at 14.

The first paycheck job she ever held was at Bruckner’s, a women’s clothing store in Fresno, in the stock room.  And the first time she drove and the first car I can remember my stepfather’s (Sheldon Hunter) green Hudson sedan.

And here’s the funniest thing that happened on her honeymoon.  Woke up the first morning to find Dad’s cousins in the next room. 

And she remembered the first train ride from Berkeley to Fresno to visit my grandparents, first airplane trip from San Francisco to Fresno for a wedding shower – I was terrified, and her favorite city when she was young San Francisco when I was young and now.  Her favorite singer was John Denver, her favorite newspaper San Jose News, and her favorite TV star was Richard Dawson.

There’s not much else to learn more about Mom’s childhood except for her notations on the page “It was a great century to live in”.  She wrote about the depression years Can’t remember too much – but we were lucky as my father was never unemployed.  Can remember what a big deal it was when he got a $5 per month raise!  Maybe the notation that tells the most about my mother is her response to “The worst year, I guess, was when I:” was 9 and my parents were divorced.  I think that event may have had the biggest influence in her 84 years of life.

I’m glad I gave this book to my mother all those years ago but am so very thankful that she took the time to fill out even some of it.  What a gift she has left for her descendants!


  1. Debi,

    How wonderful for you and your family to have this book! I wish all of my ancestors had written something about themselves and their lives like your mom did. Truly a treasure!

    1. Yes it is a treasure, Jana. Especially since my mother was never really a sentimental person and rarely shared much about her childhood. I think I know more about her now 2 months after her death than I did in all the time I spent with her before.

  2. That is so neat. She was quite a girl! My daughter gave me a similar book. Oh boy, I had better get started filling it out!!

    1. I think the learning we all have is that we never know when our last day will be so we need to get this stuff done!