When my grandmother passed away in 2001, her death certificate pronounced her birth place as Lancaster, PA. This was my first mystery. Grandma was the third of four children. Her siblings were Twila Mae, Samuel Louis and William Denzil Branum.
Of the four kids, two were listed as having been born in Ohio, and Samuel (Louis) was born in West Virginia. That was logical. The family lived in Ohio, but my great grandmother was originally from West Virginia. It’s entirely conceivable (no pun intended) that she was back home when Louis was born. But the Pennsylvania thing really confused me. Not at first, mind you, because my grandfather’s family were from Pennsylvania and when I first started out, I had everyone jumbled in my head. But slowly, it began to dawn on me that there was something amiss.
And then I had a “Duh!” moment and realized that my grandmother and her family were living in Lancaster, Ohio at the time. (In my defense, I never heard anything about Lancaster growing up—I was always told Grandma was from Marion.)
Grandma went back and forth between Ohio and Florida quite a bit. I remember riding in the car, driving down to see her. This was back in the day when seat belts were just a suggestion at best. I was the youngest, so I slept on the package shelf of the car. I have a vague recollection of being sick when we were down there for one trip, but I don’t recall if it was the same visit. I know that on one visit, there was a hurricane that came through, aptly named Hurricane Gladys. I don’t remember much about that, though.
Grandma lived with us for a while before my parents divorced. My memories of this time are fuzzy, but I have a clear recollection of being with her in the car and her telling me that the turn signals talked. “Listen,” she said, “it’s saying ‘Right turn, right turn, right turn, right turn.” A few minutes later, she told me it was saying, “Left turn, left turn, left turn, left turn.” I still think of that when I’m waiting for a traffic light.
Today, July 16, Grandma would have celebrated her 100th birthday. I would have liked to have seen that. Happy Birthday, Grandma!