The below story is last installment of a 5-part series called: My Goddess Grandmother. The quotes are extracts from two interviews I did with my grandmother two years ago. The series follows the below sequential order:
“I stayed home another year and when I was 17 I told my mother I wanted to work. [Her Mother] got somebody from the neighborhood who watched the twins. I went to work in the pants factory right down the street from us by the Coplay Bridge. My aunt worked there. She asked the foreman if he could use help, ‘cause I couldn’t do anything…I had no experience but he said he could use somebody on trimming. So I trimmed. Men’s pants.”
“That wasn’t sewing. I had a scissor in my hand and I had to trim all of these strings.”
“Oh my god, I’ll tell you one thing, if you weren’t educated, which we sure weren’t at home, my mother wouldn’t tell us anything, you know you sure got it in the factory. Oh my god, you sure got educated in the factory, they spared no words, anything just came out. Oh my god what a riot.”
“Then with the war we had army work. They were very, very fussy with the army pants, you know. Boy, you got hollered at so many many times for passing something through that wasn’t really cleaned the way they wanted to, you know. And your number was on every pants that you did, you had to put your number on so they knew just who to give them back to. And boy they didn’t spare their mouth, they really did holler because supposing the soldiers wore this and something would happen because we didn’t do the job the right way. That there seam would open up, this and that.”
“Hot, oh my God hot, unbearable, there was no air conditioning, there was no fan, there was nothing. We almost suffocated and then when you came out of there it was just as hot outside. You know with the sun.” She laughs, “It really was not fun, it really wasn’t but you lived through it.”
It is vital to our society that these stories from the past are told and shared. I learned so many details about my grandmother and life through listening to her story.
My Goddess grandmother is a complex woman that lived a simple live. She never graduated high school and often claims, “I don’t know. I’m not smart”. This comment baffles me. At one time or another, every member of my family has sat across from my grandmother in her small German kitchen with either a cup of black coffee or a beer seeking advice, forgiveness or solace. She doesn’t have the knowledge of a formal education but rather the type of wisdom, resilience and love that can only be learned through experience. She has taught me about faith, humility, kindness and service through action not words. This moral fiber is more valuable to me than a degree.
Every time I get a chance to visit my grandmother I am excited to see where our conversation will journey. Sometimes it’s the mundane catching up on family matters, other times its sad dealing with matters of the heart, but mostly I laugh till tears fill in the corner of my eyes. “Oh you’re bad,” she says to me. I smile back like a factory worker with eyebrows dancing.
A Warrior Princess