Friday, January 5, 2018

Visiting Grandparents

    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 love reading your stories of family memories. They make me smile. I hope my grandchildren have such fond memories of our home.

  2. It's funny the way children take what they'd heard and combine it with what they see, and come up with another thing entirely. The family bible had lovely pictures of Old Testament prophets and other people. I can't remember what story was illustrated, but came upon a picture of three man in the high crowns of OT priests, and after studying it for a bit, asked if they were "the kingdom, and the power, and the glory"? My mother had a coughing fit, and it wasn't until years later that I understood why.

  3. How interesting to know what passed for toys at your grandparents home.

  4. I'd like to ask a question not related to this post, if I may. I live near a large Amish community, and have noticed that most of the older women are very overweight. Would you ever consider doing a post on the Amish attitudes about this? The reason I ask is because we "English" women feel such pressure either to remain thin, or to become thin. It's not just that the woman herself is less happy with her appearance - she often receives negative feedback from her husband and society in general. Is the Amish mindset different?

  5. I love imaginative toys. Recently we took our Amish neighbors to see a shared friend in a nursing home. Dad, Mom and a two year
    old came with us.
    The mom pulled out a pill bottle full of toothpicks, then spilled them on a low table. The little girl quietly and for quite a while went to the task of putting the toothpicks carefully back into their container. There are so many skills/chores this simple task readies a child for. Clever!

  6. What interesting toys and it simply reminds us that kids can play with many things. They don't have to have all of these fancy electronic gadgets that we give them.


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