Sunday, March 23, 2008

Grandma trumps the flood.





I ran around southern Illinois being a laser leveling Boy Scout helping my neighbors by tying the Big Muddy River gage readings from the USGS and NOAA to flood elevations at their homes and on low spots in our roads. If the Big Muddy had risen as predicted, Kate and I would've been stranded for a few hours. I had a vague idea we were on some Pleistocene terrace/floodplain border, but now I have a better idea.

My Grandma, Virginia Caston, turned 100 today down in Hope Arkansas. Thinking I'd just mention my Grandma, I pulled out some old photos. Seeing them with 49 year old eyes, I remembered her as she was when I was little, and realize now how much I've inherited from her.

The Spanish flu killed her mother when she was only 12, and at 16 she married my Grandpa. They were always poor. She bore eight children through the worst of the Depression, (my Mom in 1933) and later worked in a coat factory to make ends meet. A hardshell Southern Baptist, who knew the Clintons from church, she didn't let her kids drink, smoke, play cards, or dance. Hard on my Mom, who graduated high school in 1955.

Here are a couple of photos of her and Grandpa, both taken in the late 1960's when she was nearly 60.

Can you see the spark?

All my memories of Grandma are good. She taught my Mom her amazing cooking, and we grew up on fried chicken and cornbread, sweet potatoes and blackeyed peas. And on my birthday she made me lemon icebox pie, always. She made brown corduroy winter coats for all 24 grandkids when we were in grade school, one a year for all of us. I have no memory of her being impatient, ever.

She was never doting, never the Rockwell grandma, how could she be?

She was upset at how Bill Clinton was treated over the Lewinsky scandal. But, early in Clinton's term, when I asked her about him, she said "His mom was a floozy!" For the last 40 years, at least, she's eaten a crazy processed food high saturated fat diet.

Happy 100, Grandma Caston.

Some images, from the gage I've been watching, the swing set stage gage I installed, and flooded neighbors.








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