I was looking through some of my old photos when I came across this one, and realized what a treasure I was holding in my hand!
Here is a photo of my maternal grandmother, Irene Banet Dreher, taken in the summer of 1969. I took this picture with a Kodak Instamatic camera. [Remember those?] It was my only my second camera [my first one was a Kodak Brownie Hawkeye! Those boxy little cameras that had the view finder on the top of the camera, and which you held down from your body, and looked through the top to take the picture. The shutter was control with a slide action button, also on the top edge.
Loved that old camera, but I thought I was really something when I got that little instamatic! I bugged everyone to let me take their picture! And this was one of those shots.
Granny, being who she was, didn’t mind posing for me, but she seldom ever smiled in a photo.
Granny wasn’t a very big woman. And in a household of big people, one wonders how she coped with big appetites, and big clothes, big beds, and big chairs! [Okay, so by today’s standards maybe not so big, but the German heritage is sure to show in Grandpa’s side of the bunch! Standing well over 6-feet, and weighing in well over 200 pounds, and that’s the ladies! Ha ha. Oh, don’t get your knickers in a pinch ya’all! I’m only kidding!! But the women were over 6-feet, and were big. The men even bigger!] But Granny was the tiny one.
Here she is at 63 years of age, and look how slender she still is for her age! At this point, many women seldom ever had trousers on. And Granny was no exception. She wore them only in the coldest part of winter until she was well into her 70’s. Then she began wearing them more and more.
Granny is standing in her flower garden here. I can’t remember if the stone patio was there already when they moved into the little farm house or not [for some reason I think it was]. But you can see here that Granny utilized this patio! She planted flowers in the cracks of the patio, and in containers set all over it. She added her little statuettes of ducks, and chickens and the Madonna was ever present.
Granny was agile as any twenty year old when she was 63! I once saw her at 75 lie down on the bed, take her toes and put them over head and touch the mattress above her head with them. [Heck, I’m not nearly her age in this photo yet, and I can’t bend over and even touch my toes any more! Ha ha.]
And see that hair? It’s not dyed! [My hair went completely silver a long time ago!] When she passed away at the age of 83, Granny had very few gray hairs. [I am told her mother, who died just a year before I was born, had a single gray hair when she passed away! And she was 99 years old!]
And then, there’s the obvious. You can see the fields behind Granny in the photo. They lived on a farm. Grandpa managed the farm, and took care of horses and care of buildings, houses, and what have you, for some rich folks who lived in the city, and kept the farm for vacations and get-aways.
Granny and Grandpa lived in the country until a few years after this photo was taken. Then they moved into town. Grandpa was getting on in years, and the farm was getting to be too much for him to handle. The rented an apartment in town. So, this is one of those rare photos that shows what it was like where they lived.
And one last note of interest. See the little doggie standing to Granny’s right? He was our Chihuahua, Sandy. I can’t quite remember when he came into our household; he was a rescued SPCA dog. I know by the time this photo was taken, we had him for several years. He was my constant companion. I used to put him in the basket of my bicycle and ride with him all over town. In the winter of 1973/1974 Sandy died in his sleep one night. I was broken hearted. He was the first pet I’d ever really loved like a friend, or a member of the family.
Sometimes I wonder if Granny is in Heaven, with Sandy, especially now, looking down and laughing at us for getting all sentimental about a silly old photograph. But I happen to think it’s this reminiscing that keeps them alive to us. And I’m mighty glad to have this little photograph to look at and bring those memories rushing back once more.
As my friend Dr. Bill says, “Families are forever.” And that includes not only dear Granny’s, but the four-legged buddies as well.
Gee, I miss you two!