Monday, July 13, 2009

Grandpa Swarey's

Every summer Daddy and Mom planned a trip to Canada to visit Grandpa and Grandma Swarey and all the aunts and uncles.

Mom would spend several days at her sewing machine making new clothes for all of us. It was fun watching her sew my dresses and try them on to see how deep the hem of the skirt needed to be.

We would count down the days until it was time to leave. It was very exciting to help pack our big black suitcase with all our new clothes, and watch as Daddy put a shiny black polish on our shoes to make them look new again. We would take a bath and go to bed. The air of excitement made it hard to fall asleep, but the first thing we knew Daddy was waking us up to get ready. Everything was dark and quiet at three in the morning. We would hurry and get dressed and fill several jugs with water to drink on the way and then wait until the driver arrived.

When the 15 passenger van finally drove into the driveway we all hurried outside as Daddy blew out the lamps and locked the doors. Since Mom had several sisters living in Canada yet, Grandpa and Grandma Mast and aunt Emma and Vernie would travel with us to visit them.

John and I sat on the very last seat, it was bumpy but we didn't mind. We liked kneeling on the seat and looking out the back window to watch all the other vehicles. I always breathed a sigh of relief when we were safely off the 4 lane roads. They were more than a little intimidating to me because I had heard the preachers say where the wide and broad way leads to and I was terrified if we stayed on the 4 lane long enough we would end up there.

By late afternoon we would arrive at Grandpa Swarey's and we would all climb out of the van. Grandma Swarey would come bustling out of the house to welcome us and the aunts would soon come and join her. Grandpa Masts would visit for a little bit and then leave to spend time with their daughters.

It was always noisy at Grandpa Swarey's as everyone seemingly talked at once. Since there were still six of Daddy's younger brothers and sisters still living with Grandpa's. His oldest sister, Susie lived there too but after doing her duty in welcoming us she was much more concerned about all the things that needed to be done than enjoy their visitors.

Aunt Ella more than made up for her though. She was very cheerful and had a way of talking with us on the same age level as we were. She had suffered from the dreaded disease of polio which left her crippled. In the evening Grandma would invite all of their married children and grandchildren to come for supper. It used to be fun to play with all the cousins.

Grandpa Swarey was very strict and we never dared to get too rowdy. He never did anything to correct us except bunch his bushy eyebrows together and look sternly at us which always made us quiet down. If we played outdoors we were allowed to make all the noise we wanted to.

Grandpa Swarey's had a very unique set of toys to play with. There were no animals or dolls to play with because of his convictions that they are graven images. Instead there were empty thread spools to use as animals and plenty of wooden blocks for pens. For dolls Grandma saved empty Dawn dish washing soap bottles and cleaned them and then wrapped them in little blankets. With a healthy imagination we had a lot of fun with those toys!


  1. I know I keep saying it, but I just love reading your blog about the simple life and your fond memories.

  2. That is ADORABLE and I think fun memories of being young at the grandparents' house and playing with cousins transcends all races and religions! Family times like that are priceless, even if they're rare or few and far between, they're safely tucked away and make us happy when we go there. LOVE IT!! :)

  3. I used to teach pre-school, and that, combined with raising my own children and enjoying grandchildren leads me to KNOW, children do not lack for play even without toys. A stick, a pine cone, rocks, dirt...all are sources of rich , imaginative, play and toys! Lovely memories you have shared.

  4. Didn't everyone love Aunt Ella, because of her sweeting loving spirit? I know I was drawn to her the few times we were at the same place.

  5. I love getting a peek into your childhood.

  6. I love what KathyB. said because I babysat for years when my kids were young and she is soooo right about children not needing much to make them happy. We just think they need more and more. Now when my teenagers tell me they're bored, I say GOOD because that's when the imagination kicks in! Think how fun something as simple as moving lunch from the kitchen table to a blanket in the yard is. Have a great day ~ :)

  7. I always found that the toys that required the most imagination kept kids happiest the longest.
    What great memories. Thanks for sharing them with us.

  8. Thanks for stopping by and entering my little giveaway. Your name is in the pot. : )


  9. I just thoroughly enjoy your stories! I am going to get to accepting my award today and work it into a post that has been sitting in the draft pile for over a week. I promise!

  10. I have awarded you the Honest Scrap token! Go to my blog, read the post, (you are in it!) and proceed!
    Your blog is so very lovely-wonderful written word!


  11. Thanks for commenting on my blog! I grew up in Amish country in the areas of Berlin and Millersburg Ohio. All of our neighbors were Amish and just the best neighbors you could ask for. I have fond memories of those days....


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