Our Kids' Blog

Great-Grandparents: Grandma J

March 17th, 2012 by Mommy


Hazel was born in Missouri. At a young age her father deserted his family damaging something in Hazel that she would always struggle with. Her mother worked as a milliner to take care of the family. Hazel’s grandmother was Swedish and never spoke English. There were times that Hazel would have to play quietly at her mother’s workplace because there was no other place for her to go. With the hard times, Hazel’s mother had Hazel go and live with some family members out-of-state. The stay was not long, but Hazel feared she would never be reunited with her mother. When she did return, her life was considerably better because her mother had remarried. Her step-father was a kind man who always treated her well.

Hazel grew and after finishing high school she got a job and earned enough money to travel to the Word’s Fair in Chicago, IL with a girlfriend. She met her husband Harry at work. Because they married during the Great Depression she had to leave the workforce to allow for an additional job in the community. Several years later her life changed again, she became a farm wife. There was always something to do and she was a master at keeping her hands busy and getting as much done as possible with the limited time. There are stories that while she would do mending and sewing she would rock the baby cradle with her foot. Also, with washing clothes being so much work and their life filled with a lot of routine she potty trained her second daughter at one-year-old to reduce the volume of laundry to do. Hazel had her first child at a hospital before they moved to the farm and there no issues, so when it was time to have the second daughter, they were to have her at home with help. The second delivery was difficult and she almost didn’t make it through the delivery.

Her life was a lot simpler when Harry moved to town and took up a working wage job. She was still the hard worker, but not having the additional labor required by the farm was a welcome relief. Her young years in the depression and her personal family struggles seemed to give her an attitude of making do with whatever she had. Hazel enjoyed her time in Albuquerque and made lifelong friends. In Oak Ridge, she enjoyed her church and having family close by again. Always staying busy, she served her husband in retirement. She outlived him by over ten years. She missed him tremendously in those years, but also had the support of family, neighbors, and her church family. Hazel knew all of her grandchildren, saw all of them marry but one, and met many of the great-grandchildren.

This is the grandparent that Mama was the closest to. That closeness came from just spending time and the opportunity of being nearby. Those last 10 years of her life alone were also the years that Mama could do the most for her. We spent time going to the grocery store together and doing yard work for her. What a blessing to have known her as a child and as an adult. Grandma, as she was known to Mama, was always sewing. For most of her life she made the clothes that she and her girls wore and repaired the clothes that Harry wore. Later in life when ready-made clothes were simpler to buy she changed what she sewed and took up quilting. She had a beautiful small stitch and made many quilts. She made embroidery work for others, including pieces for Mama which now hangs on the walls of her girls’ room. Mama remembers spending hours in the kitchen with Grandma cooking. Her best treat foods were the cinnamon rolls and chocolate meringue pie. We spent summers on the back porch snapping green beans for her to freeze for the winter. She always seemed to have time to get everything done and had an order to her life that kept life simple and uncluttered. She was quite a letter writer. She had kept friends from the different places she had lived and kept in contact with those letters. When Mama was away from home she could count on having a letter in her mailbox every week from her grandmother.

There seem to be many things that Mama has from Hazel. Quilts, dollhouse furniture and accessories, embroidery, furniture, family keepsakes, but mostly Mama has wonderful memories.

Mom’s favorite memory of her mother is: sitting creek-side in Colorado and playing with her Ginny doll while her mother sewed dresses for her doll.

Hazel’s legacy is her hardworking spirit, hand-working skills, and her fantastic roll recipe.

GrandmaJoyce_edit copy

Three generations: Grandma, Rachelle, and Joyce.


Grandma with all but one of her grandchildren. From the left: Carrie, Philip, Rachelle, and Chip.


Hanging out with Grandma in her domain.


Rolling out dough with a little Rachelle helper.

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