Friday, July 1, 2011

War-time love stories

I love hearing love stories, but I love them even more when they come from within my own family.

My grandmother (Meme) and I were on the phone a few nights ago when she told me the story of how her parents met.

I had tears in my eyes - from laughter.

My great-grandfather was a chemist during WWII, working for Phillips Petroleum in Kansas City, Kansas in 1944. His time working as a chemist there was considered military service. My great-grandmother had also acquired a job at Phillips Petroleum, but was in charge of the personnel files.

My Grandma Aggie used her access to the personnel files to find herself a husband. She investigated the different single men working for Phillips Petroleum at the time. She chose my great-grandfather, despite her being five years his senior and conveniently placed herself on his bowling team. He offered her rides home to her parents' house after every practice and game. I don't know the details after that but they had to wait until after the war was over until they could be married.

Everything about the 40's war-time era is so romantic to me. The pin curls, dresses, and pearls are so lovely and I wish it were still cool to dress like that on a daily basis.

My great-grandfather passed way from lung cancer when I was small, but I knew my great-grandmother most of my life. My earliest memories of her house are filled with sweet aromas of her baking. Her fudge recipe is one that we still use today. My Grandma Aggie adored her children and grandchildren, and thoroughly spoiled us all. She accidentally taught me my first curse word when I was three, much to the dismay of my Meme.

Once, on Christmas Eve, Grandma Aggie and my grandmother (Meme) were walking into church. The church had provided a live Christmas tree to decorate the chapel. As they ambled in, the sanctuary was hushed and reverent. Grandma Aggie said in a loud whisper to my Meme, "let's sit in the back because I'm allergic to that damn Christmas tree." Everyone heard, and of course my Meme was mortified.

She was always happy and kind and gentle. Grandma Aggie always had chocolates on her, and would press one (or five) into my palm each time I visited. Waking up at her house meant a hearty breakfast that she had woken up to bake during the wee hours of the morning. Saying no to her cooking was impossible. She would wake me up in the middle of the night by layering me with multiple blankets because she would worry that I was cold. She was always more concerned about the welfare of everyone else over herself. Her reputable sweetness (and sweet tooth) was a legacy that we all remember her by.

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