One Winter's Night: Grandma & Me Alone

I don't have a clue once I get past the second move
I loved being with my Grandma Fitzpatrick so much when I was growing up. I missed her when in later years she spent half the year with Aunt Pat and Uncle John in Bemidji.

I loved it when she came to live with us.

One of my deepest memories of her is the evening we spent alone in the living room, the room she helped build in 1906, and here we were in 1972...and we talked about games she and other children used to play when she was young..."Fox and Geese" was one...and then we got some yarn out, and she taught me "Cat's Cradle", which I thought I knew, but I only knew a tiny part of it in actual fact.

I learned for one thing that it was a game that should be played with a partner, which enabled much more complex and fun string art to be created. I learned that it was challenging, fun, and that if you start laughing it can really mess up your concentration.

A Winter's Game: Fox & Geese
Grandma eventually gave up with me because I "lost my way", and I began laughing again, and then we both ended up laughing.

We thought we would do it again and I would get further. But it never happened. She forgot because there were so many things she had to cope with due to her infirmities, and I forgot because I was young and unconsciously assumed I would have time.

But time isn't kind, and when I remembered, it was far, far too late.


Dad & Technology

My Dad never went past the 8th grade.  Back in his day, especially if you were a farm boy, that was common.  You were needed on your parents' farm, you accepted it, it was the way it was.

Thus, Dad never learned things like typing in a business class.

After the war, he came home to a small homestead that sustained the family with pasture and livestock, as well as a large garden.  Soon he realized he'd have to return to education to make a better life.  Despite not having a high school diploma, he was still able to take advantage of the new G.I. Bill, and went away to a school called the Gale Institute in Minneapolis, MN.  He had to be away for the better part of nine months from Mom, but he stuck it out.  He wrote letters home, and looked ahead to making a better life for his young family.

His course was focused on teaching him skills he would need to be a telegrapher for the railroad.  I don't what the entire curriculum consisted of outside of telegraphy itself, but evidently typing was not included.  To the day he retired, he always typed using what he called the 'hunt and peck' method.
Ad in July 1949 Popular Mechanics for training at the Gale Institute in Minneapolis, Minn.,
for railroad jobs. It was one like this that my Dad and his brother Robert saw that eventually 
got them to attend Gale Institute in early 1951.  Both of them ended up getting good jobs 
with the Great Northern Railway (which became the Burlington Northern) for their entire 
careers - Dad in Minnesota, and Uncle Robert in Montana...

I learned that term from him one day when my mother took me to visit him at his office, in the depot at Noyes, MN.  I still remember well the first time I visited the depot.  I was just a little girl, only about 7 or 8 at most.  To me, it was a thrilling experience to see where my father worked.  Passengers were still part of the business then, and we entered via the waiting room with its beautiful long, wood benches.  There was a water machine, with its big glass container sitting on top.  I went to check it out, and found of all things, paper cups!  I had to try it.  As I put the cup under the spigot and pressed the button, I almost jumped as the machine made a huge "glug, glug, glug" sound and large bubbles drifted up inside the upside down glass bottle.  I tried it again with the same result.  I laughed and thought, what a fun way to get water to drink!

I then noticed the counters and men behind them sitting at desks or walked through with papers, my ears picking up an interesting staccato clicking, of varying speeds.  My Mom went to the counter and Dad came to greet her.  He saw me and I looked up at him and he smiled.  "Would you like to come inside and see where I work?"  I replied, "Yes!"