Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Granny’s Wedding Ring~Part 2

Continued from 'Granny's Wedding Ring"

From tidbits my mother shared, I pieced together my Granny Warnick’s history. Married at age 15, she bore four children over the next 10 years. Her husband, a college graduate with an education degree, found it impossible to make a living as a teacher. He went to work at the Harbison-Walker Refractory, known to most as just “the brick yard”. Tragically, at the age of 38, he died of silicosis, a lung disease caused by breathing silica sand dust.

As a 26-year-old woman with four little children, grief and responsibility overwhelmed my grandmother. She turned to alcohol and men to escape, spending many hours in the local bars. The task of raising the younger children fell to her eldest, my mother, who eventually quit school in eighth grade in order to care for her sister and two brothers.

Despite Granny’s shortcomings, my mother never distanced herself or us from Granny. My sisters and brother and I spent many happy hours with Granny at her home or ours and sometimes even at her favorite haunt, Meloni’s Bar and Grill.

I distinctly remember going to Meloni’s with Granny on my 12th birthday for a “hot hoagie”, Meloni’s secret-recipe, signature Italian dish. It didn’t seem odd to me at all, but rather, an extra special treat. Afterward my dad picked us up and took Granny and me to our house where a surprise party awaited me.

Several years later, when I started dating, I took my boyfriend, Dick to Meloni’s to visit with Granny. Seated at the bar wearing white knee-high go-go boots, a mini-skirt, and thick, cat’s-eye glasses, she was smoking a cigarette and sipping a glass of Old German beer. Dick and I thought nothing of it. That was just who Granny was at the time. Though not perfect, she was always genuinely herself.

Granny loved plants and spent many hours coaxing them to bloom. One day the minister from the Wesleyan church was out for a walk and saw Granny working in her garden. He stopped by to visit.

To be continued . . .

©2011 Pamela D. Williams