©2009-2016 Becky Higgins

Monday, April 15, 2013

Remembering Grandma Miller

I’ve been thinking about Grandma Miller for the past few days. Not sure why.
It’s not her birthday which was 21 Nov 1892 (she was born Sylvia Beatrice Walker); it’s not the anniversary of her death which was 12 Jul 1986 (she died Sylvia Belle Miller). She was, though, the epitome of every child’s dream Grandma.

When I knew her Grandma (and Grandpa but he’s another story altogether) lived in the blink-or-you’ll-miss-it town of New Salem, Indiana. The duplex house faced the very busy Route 52 but oddly I don’t recall getting lots of admonitions to be careful of the street; the adults must have thought we have more sense than to run in front of a semi. The house had been owned by Uncle Angus, Grandpa’s brother, and when Angus died in 1950 Grandpa inherited it.

Grandma was a short, stout woman whose hugs felt like being encircled by a feather pillow. How I loved those hugs. When her grandchildren came to visit she always had a sweet smile and a giant hug for them. She also had a pile of comic books on the third step up on the stairs leading to the rooms upstairs. That step was often the first place we went to see if any new comics had appeared since our last visit.

I loved to “help” Grandma make mashed potatoes. I would stand on a kitchen chair at the stove as she did the hand-whipping. After a time she would ask, “How’s that?” and I would answer, “More milk.” This would go on until the potatoes were probably not to anyone else’s liking but just as “soupy” as I thought they should be.

I remember learning for the first time how the fried chicken got to the table. Grandma grabbed up one of her plump hens, took it to the concrete slab by the pump in her back yard, held it by its feet, and quickly chopped off its head. The body began to flutter and Grandma let it go to flop around the yard until it lay still. Then, we dipped it in boiling water making it easy to pluck the feathers from the skin. This experience was quite a lesson for a town girl like me.

Whenever my visits included a Sunday, Grandma and I went to her little white Methodist Church there in New Salem. Though the Church sat no more than a block from the house it was on the opposite side of Route 52, so as I recall we drove instead of walked. Riding with Grandma was interesting in and of itself. Being as short as she was and cars being constructed the way they were at the time, I’m amazed she was able to drive as safely as she did. She could barely see over the dashboard and had to look through the driver’s wheel.

I loved having Grandma to myself but I also liked sharing her with my cousins, especially my cousin Gary. Gary is only one month younger than me and I’ve always felt a special bond with him. One of my favorite memories with him at Grandma’s is sitting around her kitchen table eating Ritz cracker and catsup sandwiches. If you’ve never tried it, don’t knock it!

All I know is I am extremely lucky to have had a Grandma like Grandma Miller.


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