Tuesday, January 30, 2018

52 Ancestors, Week 3: I Remember Grandma

Grandma Margaret

Week three of the 52 ancestors challenge is about Longevity. I thought that I would share my maternal grandmother, Margret Doyle James. She was the longest living person in my family. Grandma lived to be 94 years old, outliving all of her siblings. Grandma was always there throughout my life. From a child to an adult with a family of my own, she was always there when I needed her. This picture is one of my favorites. She was about three years old when it was taken. I remember that she always got a kick out of looking at this photo. She would fall out laughing at her fat cheeks and high top boots.

Born February 4, 1916  in Danville, Illinois. She was the ninth child born to parents, Peter Doyle and Mary Belle Carr. Her parents came from Virginia to the coal mining camps of Buxton, Iowa. Over the years, they moved from Iowa to Illinois and back to Iowa again, eventually settling in  Des Moines. It was clear to me that my grandmother learned at an early age about the value of hard work. That was what she often repeated, always speaking of how hard life was. She never failed to remind me that you had to work hard for what you want in life. She said that they were poor. Even so, they were never without food to eat and they were shown lots of love. Growing up, her job was to help with the younger children as well as wash the diapers, a task that she often told me how much she hated. No automatic washer in those days, just a large tub and a wash board.

Sometime around 1933 she came to Minneapolis, Minnesota to visit her sister Rose. She ended up staying and in 1935 married Anthony Bannarn. Together they had two daughters, Shirley Ann and Gloria Jean.  After several years they divorced. In 1947 she married Donald James, together they had two sons. Grandma worked as a social worker for many years and also worked at the Halle Q. Brown center in St. Paul, Mn. She loved children and cared for many over the years.

Grandma, w/mother Mary Belle, Tony Bannarn 1935

My grandma was hot tempered, charming and very funny. She had a million quirky, funny little sayings. She loved to dance and was always the life of the party. She sure knew how to make you laugh!  She was the only one I knew that carried a bottle of hot sauce in her purse. She was a true DIY queen. Many days you could find her painting or fixing something. Grandma was one of a kind. 

I miss our talks. I miss drinking tea and looking at the family photos together. I miss sewing and shopping for fabric. I miss hearing the family stories. I miss her Raisin Pie, no one made it like her.

I think of grandma, and it makes me smile, and I'm happy that I always asked questions about the ancestors, and she was always there, ready to answer as many questions as she possibly could.  

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