Memories of grandma--
by Cheryl Kraft Martell, daughter of Charles and oldest of Marian's grandchildren
When I was younger, my siblings and I would come visit for the summer and stay with grandma and grandpa in their big house. I remember the stream out back, the hammock and the swing set that we played on and the clothesline stretching across the backyard. Being in the country was fun!
Grandma had a blackboard in her kitchen that she would use to write the jobs/responsibilities that we were to do each day we were at her house. No free ride here -- we were expected to help out. We would quite often go to the lake where she taught me how to swim. Going to the local fairgrounds was fun too as we were able to go on some exciting rides!
I remember some of the reunions that she would have in her backyard with lots of good food with many friends and family coming over. All the cousins would get together and play. We had a good time!
After my family moved to California, grandma and grandpa made an effort to come visit us every spring around Easter time. They knew that it was easier for them to come out our way than for all of us to come visit them.We looked forward to this. Grandma would make us grandkids feel special. At Easter dinner, there would always be something at each place setting with our names on it. She took the time to think of each person and put these goodies together -- either a plastic egg or basket with candy and toys. She did the same at Christmastime by sending gifts.
The cookie jar would always be full of her homemade cookies (who knows what kind they were, but they were good). She also carried with her at all times a bag with a crochet project in it and a camera. She was always eager to keep us updated with life on the East coast by bringing some of her photo albums for us to see.
When I graduated from high school, she had made an afghan to go on my bed. How special I felt that she had made it for me! Each of my children has received one and feel the same way.
She always took the time to enjoy the world around her whether it was family and friends or nature itself. Her thoughtfulness, generosity and love for the family will be remembered always.
A TRIBUTE TO GRANDMA KRAFT
by Grandson Rick Kraft (son of Charles)
My memories of Grandma go as far back as I can remember to my earliest years. Growing up I always enjoyed our trips to Connecticut because of all of the fun things we would do with Grandma. Believe it or not, she was one of the few people on this planet who seemed to have more energy than I did. We would go swimming, hiking, or out to picnics. We enjoyed her back yard and would play ball, camp, swing on the swing set, or go down to the creek. In the driveway we would take turns jumping on a pogo stick. At night we would roast marshmallows over a campfire, make s’mores and Grandma would teach us songs such as “Do Your Ears Hang Low?” complete with hand motions. There were always fun things to do at Grandma’s house.
Grandma’s house always meant family gatherings. I enjoyed seeing the cousins and aunt and uncles. We would have backyard picnics with homemade ice cream (Yum!).
When I was student at Baylor in Texas, I went back to New York to take the bear cub mascots to the Baylor/Army football game in 1979. I made a side trip to check up on Grandma and Grandpa. Then two years later in Waco, Texas there was a knock on my door and who was parked out front, but Grandpa and Grandma. WHAT A SURPRISE! They has set up camp at a campground just outside Waco. The problem was their timing. It was the afternoon before a law school final exam the next morning. It was one of those good news/bad news happenings. I was able to eat dinner with them before pulling an “allnighter” to be ready the next morning.
They made it out to Roswell, New Mexico when I married my best friend of 22 years, my wife, Tanya and then came back a few years later to visit us on their trip west. I remember Grandma looking over our home and asking if we “needed roller skates to get from one side to the other!” We traveled with them to our cabin 70 miles west of Roswell in the mountains of Ruidoso. I rode with Grandpa and Tanya rode with Grandma. After talking with Grandpa for about twenty minutes he surprised me when he looked at me and said, “You and I have talked more since we left Roswell than Grandma and I have talked from Connecticut to Roswell!”
It was difficult to visit the Spindle Hill house for the last time after Grandpa’s passing, the house contained so many great memories.
Grandma came through Roswell on her birthday five years ago with my dad (Chuck) and we had the opportunity to videotape her telling the story of her life. I enjoyed learning about her early days and her experiences through the years. I wrote a column about her life and it was syndicated across the State of New Mexico to about 30,000 readers. I am including a copy of the article.
Grandma was our family historian with her research of the family tree. Grandma’s faithful typing of Dad and Mom’s letters from Nigeria has provided a written history of their ministry thousands of miles away. Her photographs provide a record through the years of our lives. Her regular letters showed our importance to her to spend time keeping in touch.
Most importantly she left me a legacy. Her faith in God was planted and nurtured in my father and his faith and my mother’s faith was planted and nurtured in me.
I know that I will see her again in heaven. I also know that I carry a little of Grandma in me each day that I live.
Tribute to Grandma Kraft
by Granddaughter-In-Law Tanya Kraft (Rick's wife)
I became part of G'ma Kraft's family when I married her grandson,
Rick. She and Howie welcomed me as a granddaughter. I always felt
loved when I was around the two of them! I never had an earthly grandpa,
so G'pa was very special to me. But it was G'ma who I really had fun
hanging out with!
I remember Rick and I driving to Wolcott from our Roswell, NM home the summer after we got married. G'ma always made sure there were plenty of relatives for us to visit with. I enjoyed my new extended family. I remember meeting G'ma's sisters and G'pa's siblings. We enjoyed some great times. G'ma's home was a wonderful and magical place. It always felt like home to me.
My favorite memories of G'ma were hard to select. I remember her taking time to show me all around her part of the world. I remember we spent a day at Mystic Village exploring days gone by. She was always ready to hop in the car and have an adventure with Rick and me. She loved eating at Friendly's with us. We'd drive out to visit her mother in the nursing home. I remember G'Gma Margaret Miller Northrop Hall showing me she still had all of her own teeth! I remember shopping with G'ma at a fun place called Bob's. I think Rick bought a dozen Bob's shirts and wore them for many years. Seems like we always went to the laundromat together.
The best memory of times with G'ma had to be right after Howie's funeral. We took a little sidetrip down to see where Rick's dad had gone to seminary in Hartford. G'ma and I both ended hopping in the back end of this little car, sitting in a backwards facing seat. She and I giggled the whole time as we marveled traveling forwards backwards. It was nifty to see the faces of drivers in cars behind us. She was in such great physical shape that getting into and out of that little cramped space was just no big deal to her!
Shortly afterwards, I'll never forget G'ma driving west with Chuck with a UHaul truck filled with her treasures to share with her family as she broke up her house. Rick and I will treasure the table that stands in my front hall as it came from her side of the family. Most of all, it was wonderful to welcome her to our home in New Mexico and share some of our hospitality with her. We celebrated her 89th birthday here in Roswell.
Our family was so glad to have some time with her this past Christmas in South Pasadena with Rick's whole family. Even though age was taking some of her memories from her, it couldn't take her soul. Her pleasant and loving personality was still there. We thank God for providing time we could share with her.
We celebrate with the family G'ma's homegoing. We know that she is feasting at the Lord's table now...and we know some day we'll see her again. May we all be inspired by the life she lived and the Lord she loved so much...
For Monday, March 18, 2002
JUST A THOUGHT
by Rick Kraft
TAKING TIME TO RECORD HISTORY
Things were simpler generations ago. Or were they? Life long ago was very different from today.
My grandmother will turn 90 years old tomorrow. She is my only living grandparent. Her name is Marian Northrop Kraft; we call her “Grandma Kraft.” She is a truly a remarkable lady. I am honored to be her grandson. She just moved to New Hampshire after living her entire life in the Waterbury/Wolcott area of Connecticut. Last year she traveled across the country with my father from Connecticut to southern California and we were able to spend a few days together with her here in Roswell.
We enjoyed our time together and even went for nearly a two mile walk one day! I had the opportunity to videotape an interview with Grandma while she was here. With modern technology we have the opportunity to preserve a person’s life and thoughts for generations to come. Videotaping our elderly is something I recommend we all do. It is not that complicated. All you need is a video camera and time. In this instance I asked her questions about life in the early 1900's, her courtship with my grandfather to whom she was married for 69 years before his passing, having their family, and other significant events in her life.
Grandma was born at home in 1912 with a midwife assisting her mother. She said most births occurred in homes back then. The oldest of three girls, she grew up in a home with no running water and no air conditioning. The only heat in the house came from a coal stove in the kitchen. She said the kitchen was always the warmest room in the home. The house was built square and had screened windows. During the warm summer months they would open the windows and the cross ventilation would cool the house down.
They did have electricity, but it primarily consisted of an exposed light bulb hanging from the ceiling in the center of each room. There were no television sets back then. Radio was a big deal. If she finished her homework she was allowed to listen to it. The radio was about three or four feet square in size!
They did have telephones and she recalled how they would pick up the receiver and wait for the operator to say “Number please?” They would then tell the operator the number they were calling so she could connect the call. Later, they had “party lines” where three or four households shared the same line. If you picked up the phone and someone else was on it, you would hear the other people’s conversation and were unable to use the line.
I asked her what they did with their time growing up and she said they often would go for hikes and cookouts or sing songs like “Polly Wolly Doodle” together on their front porch. She was active in Girl Scouts and her church. She knew all of the neighborhood kids well and would play ball with them in the streets. She played “paper dolls” with her sisters and they wrote in chalk on the sidewalks. Grandma told me they found ways to entertain themselves.
At five years old she learned to swim in a nearby “mud hole!” Swimming soon became a way of life. Little did she know back then she would become a swimming instructor and coach and would still be swimming for exercise 85 years later.
Her family had a “victory garden” during World War I. When the end of that war was announced, she recalled, all of the whistles in the factories were sounded at two A.M. It was a time for celebration and the entire city came out when “the boys” came back from war and paraded down their main street.
They did not have a car. As a matter of fact, her father never drove a car his whole life. I asked her how she got around. She said they would walk or take the electric trolley cars. She often walked the two miles each way to school to save the fare on the trolley car. Grandma said it was three tokens for a quarter or you could buy a book of passes for 75 cents. She recalled many picnics next to the church in the cemetery.
When she and my grandfather courted, they would ride the trolley car, visit the town merry go round, go swimming, or do activities with their church group. She started dating him after they both appeared in a “minstrel” program at the Methodist church. She talked about how difficult things were during the depression. She didn’t get any flowers or cards as they dated because “they were all just trying to make it during those years.” Grandma married grandpa at nineteen. She said being a wife and mother “was hard, but I was young and in love with ‘Howie.’”
Also at nineteen they got their first car. Her eyes lit up as she described the grey Ford Roadster that cost $300. When she was twenty-one they built a two car garage out in the country and lived in it for four years until they finished building the house next door that they would live in for the next sixty two years. Until moving into their final home, their toilet was an outhouse and they battled mice and rats. The children slept on cots because they couldn’t afford beds. Grandma had two boys and then had twins. She did not know she had twins until after the first child was born and the doctor said, “I think there is another one!”
Grandpa started working for a brass factory right out of high school starting as an errand boy working his way up so that when he retired 42 years later he was supervisor over three mills. He worked two shifts during World War II as the factory was running 24 hours a day. In addition he served for 23 years as a police officer using his own car. He was paid “by the case.” For example, if he wrote a traffic ticket and “it stuck,” he would get paid, otherwise he would get nothing for his time. Grandpa also served 30 years as a volunteer fireman for the local fire department.
When I asked my Grandma for any final words of wisdom, she said, “I live one day at a time with the Lord. I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know who holds the future.” Although many things have changed through the generations, one thing has stayed the same.
I thoroughly enjoyed visiting with Grandma and my family has enjoyed watching the video and listening to her comments. What a treasure the videotape is. Many of you reading this have stories to tell of your life that should be passed on to future generations.
My challenge to you today is to take time to record history of yourself or your loved ones. If you have parents or grandparents who have not had their lives recorded, create an opportunity to do so. If you are an elder in our community, give a copy of this column to a member of the younger generation and maybe one of them can make time to record an overview of your life. It will be appreciated in the years to come for relatives yet unborn to have the opportunity to learn about you and from your past.
Just a thought...
Rick Kraft is a local attorney and the Executive Director of the Leadership Roswell Program. To submit comments, contributions, or ideas, e-mail to email@example.com or write to P.O. Box 850, Roswell, NM, 88202-0850.
Memories of Grandma
From Karen Kraft Schneider, Chuck's youngest daughter.
My memories of grandma go way back to childhood and our family visits from California to Connecticut. I loved her and grandpa's old house. I liked playing in the backyard and looking for fireflies. I remember my first experience sitting in a hammock was there in Wolcott too. Was I such a city girl? Grandma always took the time to go outside at night and show me the stars / the constellations. I was sure we didn't have as many stars in California. : )
I remember going to the town parade as kids. I remember what fun it was to visit with our 'East Coast' cousins. On our visits, I always looked forward to going with grandma to the Y to swim or she would take us to a lake to swim. She loved swimming!
Grandma also loved to take pictures. She had an album going at all times. I think maybe she was the one who spurred on my interest in photo memories and making albums. You knew that if you sent a picture to her that it would make it in an album (and the other relatives would get to see it on her visits to their homes).
On our birthdays and at Christmas, I don't know how she did it for so many years but, we would always get a book of stamps or a little gift (sometimes handmade) that let us know that she was thinking of us. That was special.
For many years, we enjoyed having grandma out to visit us in California each Spring. We would celebrate birthdays and Easter together. She love putting little goodies in plastic eggs for our kids (and for us! : ) It was cute. It became a tradition to have our Easter celebration at our house and the "big egg hunt" in our backyard. She got such pleasure out of seeing how the great grandkids enjoyed all the fun.
Even though she sometimes didn't hear what was being said in a group, she loved to interact with people, to tell stories, and to be a part of our lives.
I remember getting her started on many a story about life when my dad was growing up. She'd tell it how it was, and that was always so interesting. I've always admired her life experience and the way things were for her throughout the years.
Yes, I will miss grandma! I will miss her thoughtfulness and love for us grandkids. I will miss her regular visits to California. I will miss the history and the lessons I learned from grandma. I feel very fortunate to have been able to know my grandma so well even though so many miles were between us.
"I love you, Grandma!"