Garrett (garote) wrote,

Grandma Hazel

I interviewed my grandma Hazel when I was in middle school, approximately 28 years ago. The family visited her house one day and I had a little tape recorder, and shortly afterwards I transcribed the recording. I don't know if I ran out of time, or if the tape ran out, or if I stopped my transcription early, but in any case the narration simply ends. I think I was trying to get up to the point where she met my grandfather.

. . .

"The first thing I remember is coming out to california on a train when I was five years old. Before that I don't remember a thing. And we came up to Cragmont up in Berkeley, and my grandmother and grandfather lived there. And we built a big house there, it took quite awhile to build the house, and I remember I was going through a gate into the other yard where my grandmother lived, and it was one of those swinging gates and I swung it open and it came back and I had a pencil in my mouth and it knocked the pencil down my throat. They didn't know whether I was going to come out of that or not."

"For years and years there weren't very many people up there in the hills, but it was real pretty because there were wildflowers all over and orange with poppies, and you could look out our back window right out through the Golden Gate, and there was no bridge across it then. I used to sit there and play in the wildflowers, I would take big rocks and build houses out of them and stuff like that. And I had four brothers and four sisters, and I was the youngest of them. And I remember at Christmas time, we'd have a big christmas tree, and we'd hang our socks up on the mantle, and we had a big fireplace. And I'd wake up in the morning and run downstairs and find the packages and bring them upstairs and put them all on everyone's beds. And they all would say "what are you doing up so early?" The Christmas tree was decorated with cranberries, and popcorn, and things like that, and we had a big table because there were so many people to sit around it."

"My sister Clara got married. She met a man back in Canada where I was born in Niagara Falls, and he came down and we all had a big church wedding, and I was a little flower girl. And then one by one, different ones got married. Then I went to the schools in Berkeley, and went through Berkeley high school, and then i got a job in a real estate office in Berkeley. And my oldest sister Rae(?) and her husband came out from South Dakota and they lived in Rippin(?) for awhile, he was a high school teacher. And then they decided to go back there on a visit, so I quit my job and I was going to go back with them. But at the last minute he decided not to stay back there. So I didn't go. And I looked around for another job and found one in San Fransisco, in the PG&E building."

"At that time we were back up on the hill again, my mother and Dad and I, the rest were all married in different places. So I would walk down the hill, to where the end of the streetcars were. It would stop down the hill quite a ways, and the streetcar would go to where the Berkley train was, and it would go across to the wharf, and then you would get on a ferryboat and go across the bay. And then you'd walk out of the ferry building - everyone was going in and out of there - and you'd walk down to Market Street, and walk up to 4th Street where the PG&E building was. That's where I worked. It was a temporary job, so I knew it wouldn't last too long."

"So the day I came home when the job ended, my oldest brother that lived down near Tracy had been there talking with my mother, and he wanted to know if she knew anybody that could come down and stay at his ranch and take care of his kids because his wife was in the hospital, and she told him I would go. And I don't know to this day why I didn't get mad and say 'Well why did you tell him that?' I just said 'okay.' So I went, and my life changed altogether."

"I went down and took care of five kids, and the youngest one was just a baby. And I learned all kinds of things down there. He had some cows and chickens and horses down there, and I learned how to make butter, and cheese, and we put in a garden. We had everything from radishes to watermelon in that garden, and the biggest tomatoes I ever saw, these big beefsteak tomatoes, and one tomato would fill a whole dish when you sliced it."

"I did a whole bunch of stuff I had never done in my life. I canned little pickles, and all kinds of things to eat, and all kinds of things happened down there, I remember the youngest boy, Clifford... We had an irrigation system near the house and he would walk right down one side of the irrigation ditch, through the water, and up the other side, just like a little fish. And one day they were cutting Alfalfa, they had about six mowing machines all along the row, and I went out there and we was running right across there. And of course he couldn't hear because of all the noise, so I took out after him and found him before he could come up the other side in front of those machines."

"So all these things happened. In the meantime, my Dad up in Berkley got sick, and I told my brother I'd better go home."
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