Saturday, October 30, 2010

Just 60 Years Ago

This is the time of the year to honor the ancestors.  If you are like me, you honor them year round, but there is something special about this time of year.  Those who have been with me for awhile know how special my maternal grandparents were to me. My home life left a lot to be desired, and spending time with them on the weekends, was a haven for me.  It was there that I felt love.  When grandma died in February of 1964, I was devastated, and because I was ORDERED not to cry during her funeral, I never fully mourned her until a few years ago when the tears finally began to flow.  Grandpa died in 1974, but prior to that, he had fallen and was never the same afterwards.  There was many times he didn't even know who I was.  

Grandpa was born 13 June 1894 in Brooklyn, New York.  His dad was a New York City Fireman; his mom was a German immigrant.  The marriage fell apart soon after my grandpa's birth, and he went to live with one of his aunts in Staten Island.  I remember Saturday morning trips to town.  Grandpa driving and I in the back seat.  He'd give me one dollar when we got there, and I would go my way and he would go his.  I always went to the same of those cramped little stores with a musty smell that carried a little bit of everything.  That's where I'd be, in the back, still trying to make up my mind which paper doll book to buy when he came to get me.  

Grandma was born 4 August 1881 in New Jersey.  Her family I have been able to trace back to the early Massachusetts settlers. I like to think that grandma was a lot like me...a rebel.  She smoked from the time she was 20 years old and told tales of how she used to roll them.  Women just didn't smoke back in those days. And grandma was 13 years older than grandpa. It has always been acceptable for older men and younger women, but younger men and older women was frowned upon until only a few years ago.  Grandma and grandpa were married in the Presbyterian Church of Succasunna on 26 August 1916.  Their marriage spanned a total of 48 years.  The following poem always reminds me of these two very special people in my life.  I adore the poem, so painfully beautiful that it brings tears to my eyes.

The double-blossomed peach-trees with rosy bloom were gay
When grandpa rode beneath them upon his courting way,
From the white gate to the homestead they stretched in stately row,
And showered his path with petals, just sixty years ago.
His riding suit was spick and span, his jingling bridle rein,
Was polished to the limit, his top-boots shone again;
A mass of youthful vanity, from curly head to toe,
Was my darling gay young grandpa – just sixty years ago.

Upon the broad veranda, demure my grandma sat,
And hid her girlish blushes beneath  her garden hat,
Her dainty flowing muslins enfolded her like snow;
Ah! Very sweet my grandma was, just sixty years ago.
With sweeping bow and fluttering heart he told his hopes and fears,
And grandma gently said him ‘Yea’, mid blushes, smiles and tears.
When the double-blossomed peach-trees with fruit were bending low,
Good Father Flynn united them – just sixty years ago.

There’s a sound of mirthful revel in the dear old home to-night,
Where the merry young folk frolic ‘neath the incandescent light,
Jazzing on the broad veranda, listening to the radio,
Knowing wonders quite undreamt of in the days of long ago.
On the vine-enclosed veranda, sits my grandpa in his chair,
And the flower-scented night winds stirs the white locks of his hair;
Grandma sits and smiles beside him, happy in the young folks glee,
Such a dainty dear old lady, ever young at heart is she.

And the harvest of their labours in the moonlight stretches wide
All the land they’ve won and toiled for as they struggled side by side,
In their brave old eyes no shadow from the griefs of gone-by years,
For their hearts beat high within them – dauntless breed of pioneers.
Hand in hand they sit together, while the angels smile above,
On their long unbroken record of faith, sacrifice and love;
From the double-blossomed peach trees come the petals falling slow,
Bringing sweet and fadeless memories of Sixty Years ago. 
--Alice Guerin Crist--


  1. What a beautiful honoring of your Loved Ones Mary...and you are so right...the poem does bring a tear to the eyes!

    Many Samhain Blessings Sister! :)