Thursday, February 9, 2012

Covertly Gathering Family Stories - Part 4

Just because some family members won't share their memories with you, doesn't mean they have to be lost forever. You just have to go around them and find the stories another way. This week I've shared the stories that my grandmother recorded, my plan to expand on them with my aunts, uncles and dad, and the results thus far.

Now to show the treasure my family has given me.

Here's the story written by my grandmother that I sent the family for week 4:

Whenever something was needed at school, my kids volunteered to bring it. Cakes, pies, bread, cookies, costumes – you name it! Once I had to take a sheet off the bed and wash it, so it could be used for a movie the next day. Once they even brought a guest speaker home without telling me first. El had been working on a science project and had papers and leaves all over the dining room. We had to seat our guest at the kitchen table that day.

And here is what it became (I turned the names into initials here to protect the innocent):

Whenever something was needed at school, the nuns would volunteer the Eiswerth children. They knew how creative E was and how she would get things done, so they kept asking her to do more. It was a compliment, but all the work made it seem like a punishment.

The Eiswerth kids would come home and tell their mom that they needed all kinds of things for school the next day. Cakes, pies, bread, cookies, costumes – you name it! Once E had to take a sheet off the bed and wash it, so it could be used for a movie the next day.

About every year in May, E would cut bunches of flowers off the lilac bushes and the kids had to walk them down to the nuns to put in the church.  They always made the old church smell great on Sunday when the family went to mass.  

El once brought a big jar of beans to school. The kids would guess how many beans were in the jar--a penny a guess--probably to make money for a "mission baby". On the way to school, she dropped it, the beans went all over the place and she bawled her eyes out all the way to school.

Every year at St. Boniface Junior High, the students had to do a science project. Then they would set it up in the basement of the school on Washington Boulevard for guests to come and admire their good work. One year, El decided to do “Leaves of Pennsylvania Trees” for her science project. She had the whole family collecting leaves. They even went to state parks. She had several leaf and tree books to look up what she found and categorize them in a big scrapbook.

El won a prize at St Boniface and was invited to display her charts and leaves at the Bucknell University Science Fair in Lewisburg, PA! The family loaded up the car and while they were on their way, J almost hit a bicyclist who came out in front of us at Brandon Park. El won "Honorable Mention" there. She kept the leaf scrapbook during her 35 years of teaching and only threw it out when she retired. The leaves were still intact.

The Eiswerth dining room table was a place that was always loaded with homework papers, school projects, wet winter clothes, etc. They family only ate there when company visited. One time the Eiswerth children came home with a guest speaker from school without telling their mom first. This was at the same time that El had been working on her leaf science project and had papers and leaves all over the dining room. They had to seat their guest at the kitchen table that day.

When MJ was supposed to play an angel in a Christmas play, E made her the best wings in the class. The base was 2 wire hangers, so they were nice and even, too. They were so nice that the nun asked MJ to let the smaller girl in the front wear them. She really didn't want to do it, and told the nun that. But the nun won and MJ had to give up her beautiful wings. When she came home from school that day, MJ told E what had happened. E shared that the same thing had happened to her when she was a child. Her mother made her a gorgeous set of wings, snowy white trimmed in tinsel. Five minutes before the play started, her wings disappeared, probably given to someone in the front row.

Eventually, E asked the kids not to volunteer HER for much as she was very busy.  The nuns knew that and would send a paper home asking her for what she could do in the future.  
I am truly amazed at how just a few lines from my grandmother can expand into a rich story of my dad's childhood. I was even able to add my grandmother's memories of her childhood angel wings when I aunt remembered hers and her mother telling her the story of when she had to give hers up.
Tomorrow I'll send out story #6. I can't wait to read their memories. It's going to make an amazing book at the end of the year.

1 comment:

  1. Brilliant project, Tina! I've been getting comments back on newsclippings I've been sending to relatives, but nothing like this. Standing ovation!