I was thinking about what I should blog about today and decided to do a kind of historical piece about my Grandmother. I am named after her and have always been fascinated by her life. She was born in 1930 and spent her childhood living on a farm in Mississippi during the great depression. She had 9 brothers and sisters and was the oldest girl. They didn't have any toys when she was a child and I remember her showing me how to make corn dolls when I was little and telling me those were the only toys they had when she was young. They also used to take berries and smear them on their lips and cheeks pretending it was makeup. The clothes the children wore were made of flour sacks. 
When my grandmother was 15 years old she married a farm hand her father had hired who was living in the house. The marriage was not looked upon with favor by her family and so the two of them moved out on their own and became share croppers in the Mississippi Delta. This was a hard life and I remember her telling me how they lived in a small house with kerosine lamps and a wood stove. After several years my grandmother gave birth to my uncle who she would have to leave alone most of the day in a playpen while both of my grandparents worked in the fields picking cotton. My grandmother hated leaving him this way so they moved uptown to Shelby MS and my grandfather got a job at a service station and my grandmother worked at a 10 cent store.
They lived in Shelby for 2 years and my grandmother got pregnant with my mother. When my mother was only a few months old they moved to Chicago for a better life. Grandfather had a very difficult childhood being one of 13 children, and had been rendered blind in one eye as a child while building a fence on his families farm when he was very young. This made it difficult for him to do many jobs but he had always dreamed of owning a grocery store. They worked at several jobs over many years until they were able to open one. They had the store for about 3 years when my grandfather got sick and they were forced to sell the store.
At that time my grandmother looked for work in a factory. I remember her telling me that she went for a job interview and the only position they had available was very physically intensive. You had to kick a machine when it came to the end of it's cycle to make the parts fall down. The people who were hiring didn't think she was fit for the job but she insisted since she was desperate to find work. They gave her a shot and she kicked and kicked that machine. The people supervising her were so impressed with her determination that they offered her a job doing quality control work. This company was called Cinch Manufacturing which became TRW and made parts for aerospace engineering. Over time she moved up in the company and by the time a contract came around to make parts for the first mission to the moon, my grandmother had moved up to being a supervisor. The space race was on and she worked long hours inspecting parts to beat the Russians. Some of the parts that were used to make the Apollo went through her hands. She worked at TRW for 28 years before retiring. There was a huge banquet that was held in her honor. 
Postscript:
When I was 14 years old we moved back to Mississippi so my grandmother could spend time with her aging parents, and also so that us children could get to know them better. My parents bought some land and my grandparents bought the lot right next to them. I spent my high school years going between the two houses and drinking coffee with my grandmother in the day and eating late night bowls of ice cream with her. When I was in high school I left home and was having difficulty making it to my classes. My grandmother came up to the school and begged me to graduate. She had never had the opportunity to graduate high school and it was very important to her. She offered to have me come and live with her and I did. I'm so glad I got to spend the time I did with her before leaving Mississippi altogether the day after I graduated high school. 

Since then I have moved clear across the country and live in Oregon. I have had to go many years without being able to see her but we talk often on the phone. Last summer she flew out for the first time with my brother and his family and we got to spend some real quality time. She is now in her 80's but still gets around fairly well. We took her to the Oregon coast and Multnomah falls. She was astounded by the beauty of our state. I hope that she lives comfortably for many years to come and that she is able to return to Oregon again some day.
 


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