In 1979, I wrote to various relatives to try to recapture many of the stories that Grandma Bessie used to tell. It had only been four years since her passing and her stories were already starting to drift away from me. Several people wrote me with stories they remembered. Almost all of them were ones that I remembered but the variations were many. I wrote the stories based on what I remembered.
I gave them to my mother, Viola Kubert Christensen, as a birthday present. I thought she would be happy with them, but all they did was make her cry so she stuck them away for about 10 years before she brought them out. She then shared them with her brother Joe and her sister Judy. They never got past the details to see the stories. They debated whether it was a dime or a nickel, whether it was a half-dollar or a dollar, whether the participant was this sister or that or if it was 10 miles or 20 miles. Again they got put aside. Later Mom recorded them to tape to give to some of the nieces and nephews. She recorded only a few and I donít have the recording. In all the moving, the stories seem to have been misplaced.
The stories as Viola relayed on the tape were somber and reverent. They were retold earnestly and solemnly as if reading gospel. Grandma told them with a laugh, a laugh that sometimes consumed her so that one of us would have to pick up the story to finish it. I miss that laugh.
When Mom and Dad moved to a small apartment in a retirement center, I got the dubious task of trying to clean out the garage and closets. Decades of mementos were stored. Some of the stories had surfaced. I guess you canít keep a good tale down. Even later when going through Moms things after she moved into a nursing home, I would find one stuck in a newspaper and another in a book as a bookmark. I never found all of them.
I decided that maybe after almost thirty years, nobody would care to distinguish the nickels and the dimes and would just look at the story. The stories stand as they were written in 1979 when I still had a memory of them. Some of Grandmaís tales did not show the best side of the family, but they are not meant to be mean or create ill will. They are just Grandmaís life, as she perceived it.
Bessie Rezabek Kubert