Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

With knees knocking together, she offered decades of stories

Jim Robertson knew why I stood at his desk, knees knocking together. After a few courtesy words, he said, "Sue, what do you have there?"

I held some true stories I’d typed for four little grandsons; I handed the stack to this man of few words.

Robertson, the managing editor of the Tribune, perused the content briefly and read aloud, " ‘Granny’s Notes.’ That’s what we’ll call it."

Suddenly Jim Robertson was my boss! I’d been asked to write a column of about 500-600 words. He suggested, "Perhaps you could introduce yourself to start."

It’s now 450 weeks and 450 columns down the line.

Pleased to meet you, readers.

My 89-plus years have been "country years." Almost everyone my age knows that potatoes, peanuts, sweet potatoes and carrots grow down in the ground!

We’ve planted and dug them; we’ve seen warm, soft eggs exit from a hen’s "privates" and cool quickly to a hard shell.

We know that only female cows produce milk. We know the itch from vicious chiggers in the blackberry patches, the endless job of picking and stemming gooseberries, the sting of a cedar tree’s needles when you cut the family tree and carry it in.

We know the joy of skating on the pond by moonlight and getting warm by standing around huge burning logs.

We found our fun and friends at home, school and church.

We who were in high school in the ’30s passed the word around that woolen garments didn’t have to go to the dry cleaner’s.

Some of us bought a dime’s worth of "white gasoline" and spent Friday afternoon washing wool sweaters in the smelly stuff. Then we air-dried the garments outside and wore them Monday, when no trace of gasoline was left.

I heard the horns and whistles in the celebration of the Armistice ending World War I; many of us had relatives who survived the horrible trenches in France and friends who weren’t that lucky.

We oldsters who went to University High School recall University of Missouri-Columbia students in uniforms, their dress drills and the bands on Francis Quadrangle on Wednesdays at the ROTC dress parades.

I went from U-High to MU. For four years I was on the women’s Rifle Team. Then I made "Missouri Musketeers"; we practiced with live shells - .22’s - and shot our competition targets on the unfinished fourth floor of Jesse Hall, where light, cold air and an occasional skiff of snow blew through cracks in the walls.

I earned four white wool sweaters with gold arm stripes and a chenille "M" target on each. We used U.S. Army rifles and had Capt. Hand and Sgt. Viera as our instructors. We paid $5 for the semester’s ammunition.

Walter Frank, Chub, was in engineering school - one of those MU students in uniform.

He drove an old Pontiac truck, and in February 1931 we began to eat our sack lunches together and to attend the Presbyterian students’ meetings on Sunday evenings.

We married seven years later after having built a postal savings account and co-owning a Pekinese dog and a set of woodworking tools. I had worked two years at Christian College, and President Briggs approved our marriage during the holiday.

Dean Carl Agee of the MU Bible College performed the ceremony in my home, and we drove to Kentucky and back with only $35 and our pocket change. Motels cost $2.50; we ate one meal a day and shared a quart of chocolate milk and some ripe bananas.


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