Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sepia Saturday: My Grandmother's Life and Times

I often think of them, my paternal grandparents. Especially my grandmother and her life and times.

Loren Lloyd Arnett and Mafie Marie Arnett nee Rosencrans

She was born in 1899 in Iowa, on the cusp of a new century. During her 
early childhood, Orville and Wilbur Wright made history in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. 

She was a young woman at the time of the first World War. 

By that time, she had moved from Iowa to Snohomish County, Washington, then on to the Portland Area. From there, she lived for a time in Puyallup, Washington with an older married sibling, and in her early 20s took a position as a nanny for the minister's family of the Christian Church in Wenatchee, Washington. 

There she met and married Lloyd. 

As a young mother, she and her husband weathered the Depression while rearing three children, a son and two daughters. All three of those children attended college and my father earned a graduate degree and has been granted at least one honorary degree. My grandfather worked during that time thanks to the Works Projects Administration, but maintained a lifelong allegiance to the Republican Party. I don't remember exactly what my father said my grandfather's job was,  just that he was employed by the WPA.

WPA Project in Clackamus County, Oregon

Marie still had teens at home during the Second World War and somehow managed to feed them all despite rationing. I never asked, but suspect there was a fruitful garden in the lot between their home and my great-aunt and uncle's. That was the time when Victory Gardens were the citizens' patriotic duty and contribution to the war effort.

Sugar rationing

Grandmother-hood was bestowed when her children, of the greatest generation, married and produced little baby boomers. She sailed through the 50s, cooking up a storm for her family and at the Portland, Oregon YWCA. She was an ardent Christian, an eager participant in the life of the church congregation, the church where her son was ordained as a minister. 

I wonder whether she questioned the Communist witch hunts, puzzled about politics, worried about the bomb. Did she share, or merely adopt, her husband's political leanings? 

In the 60s, while the civil rights movement and women's movement were bringing change in ways large and small, she faced a massive change of her own. My grandfather died in 1965.

In the late 60's, she watched as a spacecraft rocketed to the moon, a space capsule was separated from the mother ship, and it set down . The hatch opened and Neil Armstrong walked on the lunar surface. Did she realize the symmetry? How her life had been marked by the first flight at Kitty Hawk and the first steps on the moon?

NASA Photo - Apollo 11 liftoff

She lived through the Vietnam era, never once remarking about its wisdom, at least within my earshot. She was born to a generation that trusted political leaders to do what was right for the country. Not "my country, right or wrong," but a basic belief in the goodness and motives of the President and Congress. That orientation was definitely NOT shared by my Baby Boomer generation!

Richard Nixon Official Presidential Portrait

She saw her grandchildren grow to adulthood and bring into being great-grandchildren. She saw her children divorce and remarry, and in turn, many of her grandchildren followed suit. She was supportive through it all. And at least after she stopped working, she was always in front of the television for "As the World Turns." I can remember her saying, "That Lisa!" and talking about the characters as if they lived in her Portland neighborhood.

Marie Rosencrans Arnett lived until her 89th year, with a ready smile and an enviable sense of humor. She was humble and met life with grace. 

For more Sepia Saturday posts, click the Sepia Saturday icon to the right.


Barbara and Nancy said...

She was also very pretty!
The world did a lot of changing during her life.
And you put it all together so nicely.

JOE TODD said...

Really like the way you did the post. I can remember my Grandmother saying "We probably shouldn't go to the moon." She never said why she felt that way

gibknitty said...

she certainly had a full life and witnessed many changes in the world. love the photos.

Titania said...

Hi Meri, such nice memories of your grandmother.
She experienced changes in the world and accepted them like we do the changes now. She was also a lovely looking lady. I enjoyed very much reading your post.

Nancy said...

Your beautiful grandmother led a full and interesting life. You shared it with us beautifully.

L. D. Burgus said...

What an interesting blog about your grandmother. I is United States History lessons to see how life was for her through the years and what she saw.

Anja said...

Dear Mari,
that has been very interesting. I like the idea to post the life story of your grandma. It is so important for us to be rooted with our familyhistory. Have a sunday!

Tattered and Lost said...

Wonderful portrait. It's a shame the details of the lace are so washed out. I imagine it was quite a dress.

Vicki Lane said...

You did a wonderful job here of memorializing your grandmother's life!

Marilyn said...

Your grandparents photo is wonderful and your grandmothers expression is so dreamy. I am impressed with all of your post, it is so interesting.

Christine H. said...

What a beautiful chronology. It really brings to light the variety of experiences, inventions, and developments over her life.

Pat transplanted to MN said...

Ditto to the comments, good job summarizing a very full life that saw changes and must have granma too watched The Guiding Light devotedly from the time she got her first TV and I think the folks were real to her too. I especially like the first photo of your serious.

Martin H. said...

This is a wonderful post. A beautiful account of your grandmother's life.