Sunday, June 24, 2012

Lunch with the Ladies

Yesterday my mom and I took my grandma Loraine, Travis & Arliss into the city to have lunch in Andersonville with my great-aunt Helen.  Loraine is in her 80s and Helen is 90, between the two of them there is so much history.   Both ladies grew up on a farm, one in northern Wisconsin and the other in northern Illinois.
They each experienced the simplicity and the hard work of living on a farm.  Helen is the youngest of 4 kids, two other siblings had passed away in infancy.  Loraine is the middle child of 5,  an older sister had passed away, also in infancy.

Helen and Loraine both love the city.  Helen has lived downtown for all of my life, or at least all of my memory. She now lives in senior housing with her dog, Suzie.  Great-Uncle John died a few years ago. Everyday Helen is outside taking her dog for a walk.  When she signs cards to the family, she includes the dog's name in the signature.

Loraine left the family farm for nurse's training during World War II.  She lived in the dormitory with other nurses-to-be and grew to love the city.  In fact, it was during nurse's training that Loraine met her future husband.  She married Grampa the same year she finished training.

Sitting at lunch with these two amazing women was such a privilege.  Helen shared stories about her dad and grandfather as well as stories about Gramma Olive, her older sister.  It was the first time I had heard them and I felt honored to take down the memories she had of her childhood.  My great-grandfather (Helen's dad) and his father would sit down at the table and talk to each other in Swedish.  Helen said it was such a beautiful language, so soft.  She never heard such a wonderful sound.

She often wondered why her dad never taught the kids any Swedish.  She wishes now that he had, then she could read the inscription on the wall at Ann Sathers restaurant where we were eating.  I asked the waitress what the inscription said and repeated it to Helen.  "It is simply good food, that brings back such fond childhood memories."

Travis and Arliss with a Swedish horse
After lunch we walked down the street to the Swedish Immigration Museum and went inside to see the displays.  So much of what was presented to the public is a part of my family history.  There were old trunks that had come over from Sweden in the early to mid-1800s; many of which looked like the trunks my family has passed down through the generations.

There were tools made of wood, no plastic or metal, that would have been used on the farm.  Other items such as a number of Swedish Bibles were on display.  There was one Bible that had survived the Great Fire of 1871 because the family had the foresight to bury the Bible in their backyard along with their silver teapot. The items was retrieved after the fire was out.

classic colors for a Swedish horse
We went into the souvenir shop to look at a number of items including the Dala Horse, which is well known as a symbol of Sweden.

On the way home we drove by the lake and Loraine shared other stories of her time in the city, including where she and Grandpa were engaged--Lincoln Park Zoo.  Grandpa taught her how to drive in the city and would tease the "country girl" when she would pull halfway into the intersection to see if there were any oncoming cars.

"Viking World Tour"
All in all, by the time we returned home the adults were tired and the kids were a little stir-crazy from sitting in the car for multiple hours.  But it was so worth it.

Enjoy the pictures of the city.
Sending love and kisses from the farm,

Arliss, Loraine,  my mom,  Travis, me, Aunt Helen

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