Friday, January 16, 2009


LoraDell Baker, my Grandma on my Mother's side, turned 90 years old on December 18th (last month). Which means she was born in 1918! It's quite an accomplishment...even though she would say "I didn't do anything"! She now lives in an apartment building here in Slippery Rock. The apartment building is named Graystone Manor and houses other retired senior citizens, couples, singles, (all for and only for adults), and several handicapped people (in nice, fully equipped handicapped apartments). I decorated her door the night before her birthday...she was sure surprised when she went out that morning to go and check her mail!

She had lots of wonderful visitors who came to celebrate with her:
  • Uncle Larry and Aunt Gloria Baker (my Mom's brother and his wife) came from Pisgah Forest, North Carolina,
  • David Baker (cousin) came from Reynoldsburg, Ohio,
  • Roger (cousin) and his youngest son Nick came from Columbus, Ohio
  • Joann & Jim Schumacher (cousin & her hubby) with their two kids Jamie (not a kid anymore, she is a sophomore in college and quite a fantastic young woman!) and "little" Jason (who stands taller than me...even when I am wearing 4 inch heels!) came from Glen Allen, Virginia
  • and of course all of us from around the Rock were here...and I know Susan & Steve, Wanda & Reinhard, and Lynette, Missy & Mike were all here in thought and spirit.
Later that evening the residents of Graystone Manor had their Christmas Party (they scheduled and planned it specifically to be on her birthday so they could do a combo-party celebration!). Everyone had a great time.

Grandma lived in the Poconos when I was a little girl. She and Grandpa (Connel Ashmore Baker) built a little house in the small town of Pocono Pines, Pennsylvania. Pocono Pines didn't have much in the way of a 'town' - it had a tiny post office with one counter, a general store, an old-timey-type Manor House Restaurant (where I remember we would go for 'fancy' meals and have shrimp cocktail appetizers) etc. but it was a nature-lovers dream! I grew up (along with my sisters and cousins) spending many Christmases, holidays and long weekends there. It was perfect for us...they had a boat with two wonderful lakes nearby (the "BIG LAKE" and the "LITTLE LAKE" - fantastic for boating, fishing, swimming, ice skating in the winter, etc.), lots of berry bushes to go and pick fresh berries from, a house in the woods that bordered the State Park with wonderful nature trails to go hiking on, a tree house that Grandpa built for us, all sorts of birds and wild forest animals running around, wonderful huge rocks to climb around on, etc. It was a child's paradise. Alright, so the bugs were bad at times, in the winter it would snow feet instead of inches, it would get really dark and creepy at night, there were strange animal sounds that came from the woods, Grandpa didn't like us to get too loud, there was no running in the house (as if there was space to run!), their house was small (I still can't imagine how they fit my family of 6 and the Baker family of 5 and them in that two bedroom house...but of course I know how they did it...they stuck all 7 of us kids up in the attic to sleep in sleeping bags!! -- hey, we were kids, what did we know!?!), we'd all get a bit restless and drive each other crazy (understatement!), and it was in the middle of nowheres-ville, but hey, that's family!

I just loved going to visit at Grandma and Grandpa's. I remember Grandpa was funny, not so much to me (I can remember laughing at jokes I didn't understand) but I remember how the adults would always be in stitches when they were around him...he seemed to bring the best out of people. I loved watching him smile with love and pride at Grandma, sometimes I'd catch him just watching her and he'd wink at me. Grandpa was with me when I tied my shoe by myself for the very first time! He made me feel like he really cared, and was so proud of me, like it was such a big thing! I was the apple of his eye that day....I think I was more pleased that I pleased him than I was that I tied my own shoe! Grandma always made things special for us when we came to visit. We had our very own special towel sets...each of which she hand embroidered certain things onto for identification....mine were bright pink with little bees...because I was (and still am) her little honey b
ee! She also had little aprons for us to wear when we helped in the kitchen (which was always)...we would set the table, help stir things on the stove-top, do whatever was asked of us basically... but most importantly, at exactly 5pm, we would help make the cocktails!! Our cocktails were of course Shirley Temples with red maraschino cherries (we would get two cherries if we had been good that day!)...cranberry juice and 7-up (I still love cranberry juice to this day!). She had special glasses for them too (featuring Archie cartoon images...I think she got them free at the grocery store, or maybe they were special promotional jelly jars - I don't know, but they were special for us!! and I loved them.....she still has them by the way!!).

After Grandpa passed away Grandma still lived out there in the woods for several years, but then it just became too much to handle (and she was getting older and tired of shooting guns up in the sky to scare the huge bears out of her back yard and away from her house!) so she
moved to Columbus, Ohio, where my Uncle Larry had a duplexed house. Grandma lived in Columbus for many years. She was quite involved too. She was a member of the 1918 Club (all the members were born in 1918 and they used to go on trips..she went to New England, to Washington State, etc. it was great), she was a member of the Women's Club, she golfed, she bowled, she played Bridge, she sewed and always had several craft projects going...and of course she had her beautiful plants and flowers that she cared for. She moved back to Pennsylvania, to Slippery Rock in, I think 2001 or 2. She had to have a knee replacement and after that it just became more difficult for her to get around so she moved here to be closer to my Mom.

Grandma gets around in a wheelchair now...or I guess I should write that she gets around in a wonderful Hoveround....but she still lives
alone and is able to manage on her own. At 90...well, that's pretty awesome!



Wanda said...

I think I'm going to have to stop reading your blog...unless you WANT me to cry like a baby!! Great entry...great memories. We each have our special memories of Grandpa. I'm glad you remember him. I think you were pretty young when he died. And you are right...he could bring the best out of everyone!


You can't stop reading my are the only reader I have!! I'll try and lighten them up!

Wanda said...

ha ha you have other readers Betty....don't you worry about that! You write what you want...if I cry, that's okay!!!