Writing 101 Assignment 4: A Lady Named Annetta (Part 1)

 

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I realize that I am doing some of the assignments out of order but I wanted to share a special piece about my grandmother whom I miss very much:

I have special memories of my grandmother, Annetta . I and all of the grandchildren affectionately knew her as Grandma Hart.  She often signed birthdays and letters with “Grandma” and then drew a heart. My grandmother was a kind, soft spoken woman who had a large family and many friends. Her brunette hair had turned gray, she was tall with hazel-green eyes magnified by her glasses which twinkled with delight at picnics and holiday events while visiting with friends and family. I distinctively remember her gentle, musical laughter. She was a quiet lady who loved her family very much and enjoyed doing quiet activities which included reading, writing, crocheting, and attending a Bible Study.

Another favorite pastime she enjoyed was watching the Green Bay Packers. Grandma was not pleased when the Packers did not play well.  When I was older and had my own car, I would visit Grandma in her small apartment in Black River Falls.  Her apartment building was situated near the banks of Black River and her first floor apartment faced the Black River Falls Memorial Bridge She and I relaxed and visited on many Sundays in her tiny living room and she sometimes told me stories about her younger self. She showed me a hint of her adventurous side but truly, I had no idea until years later.

My grandmother, Annette Marie, was born in October of 1911 to parents Albert and Bessie. She arrived in this world one day after a great flood struck Black River Falls, Wisconsin. The flood was so severe that  some did not think the town of Black River would survive However, determined residents resolved to rebuild the small town which blossoms today. My grandmother used to say, “I was born on the crest of the Great Flood”.   She grew up in a rural area south of Black River Falls known as Oak Grove.  As you may guess, the area was full of oak trees except for one lone, tall pine tree. When great grandpa Albert was clearing the land, he reached this pine tree with his ax ready; he hesitated and my great grandmother yelled to him, “If you chop down that pine tree I’m moving back to LaCrosse.” My grandmother remembered that lone tree years later and wrote a story entitled, The Lonesome Pine.  Annetta, my grandmother, and her younger sister, Lela attended the Oak Ridge country schoolhouse.

Later my grandmother and her best friend, Irene, lived in a boarding house in Black River Falls to attend high school there. As a young teenager, Annetta was a bit mischievous and she loved to run. She once told me that she and her friend at lunchtime would run a considerable distance back to their boarding house, eat lunch, and then run back to school without being late.  I tried to study and determine the route she and her friend took. My first calculations were not accurate; my brother pointed this out by explaining that the bridge she ran across was a different structure than the bridge which existed today; also it was in a different location. Additionally, the high school which she attended was not the same school that I attended; again, a very different location.

From what I could determine in studying her route, she and her friend needed to race along a road south of town, cross the sprawling bridge which stretched across Black River, dash across perhaps a busy intersection near downtown, and finally scamper up a set of double hills before arriving at the three story school building. I had asked her why she didn’t just pack a lunch and take it with her and she laughingly replied, “But we liked to do it that way!”

She was silent for a few minutes while I thought about this and finally responded, “You mean you liked the challenge of it.”

“Yes!” she answered and laughed.

“Grandma, you and your friend invented your own physical education class.”

Again, grandma’s musical laughter filled her tiny living room.

At age 17, Annetta was married. She raised a family of eight children and became one of the first female bus driver for the Black River Falls school district.  She perceived her job as an adventure but also took her work very seriously.  She had commented in a newspaper article, “I had to get my little charges home safely.” She had felt a heavy sense of responsibility as she drove the children home through a blinding snowstorm; the journey was slow and treacherous. She worried that she’d run out of gas and wondered how she would keep the children warm.

My grandmother saw her children grow to adulthood, marry, and have families of their own.  Some had very large families giving her many grandchildren and numerous great grandchildren. She passed away in 1995.  Annetta lived all of her life in or near Black River Falls, Wisconsin. She was a well-liked lady known for her adventurous spirit, her large family, her writings, her quiet, caring nature, and her faith in God.  She had a very gentle way of sharing about her faith and trust in Jesus. Almost 20 years have come and gone, and I still miss her. There is a special place in my heart where I go to remember her; I recall her stories, the sound of her soft voice, and her sweet, melodious laughter. Most of all, I remember her deep and never ending love for her family.

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