Friday, July 14, 2017

An Interview With My Grandmother, pt 2

     Last week, Grandma told us about her run-in with a wild goose, some of the prejudices she faced as a Mexican, and the time she told a neighbor girl Santa Claus isn't real. If you missed that post, click here.
     In this second part of a three-part interview, Grandma tells us about her job at Consolidated Handbags, meeting her husband, and life as a stay-at-home mom.


Grandma: I started working the summer that I graduated. It was terrible because jobs were hard to find because all the high school kids were out looking for jobs. So I took any job, I took part-time jobs, it didn’t matter, I just wanted to be working. By this time, Mother had stopped working at this plant that made clothes for the military. For some reason, that summer, at the end of summer, she quit working for those people. Instead she got a job with this handbag company. So here I was that summer looking for jobs everywhere. And toward the end of the summer… let’s see when was it? In November, right before Thanksgiving, Mother says, "Well you know, they’re hiring people where I’m working, you might want to go and ask for a job there." I said "Ok, that’s fine, sounds good." Well I did, and because I was her daughter, they hired me. And they kinda liked me because I was doing the job. The company was growing really fast, and so they decided to have a department for small items for women. And so they put me in a little cubbyhole, a little space there. They were primarily going to go into the gloves, so I was to receipt the great big cartons of gloves that came in. They were different styles and they had to be sorted out by style, by color, and all this. And I delighted in doing it, it was nothing. I got an order and it came on a piece of paper, they want this, this, that, and that. And I just whipped through, I got the order, and filled it up. And I had it in a basket, and the people that did the packing, they’d come and take it, and they knew what store it was going to, and all that. That was fun! Laughs That was fun, I didn’t mind doing that at all. And I just did it very quickly, and I did it so quickly that I got my orders filled up real fast. And everything was marked and all in its  proper place where I could find it. So they decided to take me out of that little bitty place that I had and they made a bigger area for me. And they started building it up with gloves, with the wallets that women used to carry, the small ones, bigger ones, and evening bags, real small evening bags, jewelry boxes, just all these little items. And so, I had a place for everything and everything in its place! 

Gloria: Nice!
Gr: I enjoyed that! It just came to me naturally to have all this stuff organized and because it was organized, I had no problem filling orders. So I enjoyed it, I worked there for eight years. And they just added more and more to it, they added belts. I had all kinds of stuff in that department, to the point where I said, hey, I’m busting at the seams here! They discontinued the gloves, they discontinued… what else did they discontinue? The belts they did away with, because that takes a lot of room. So that gave me a little more room, and I was fine. Then all of sudden, they moved to another building, a bigger building, and I had a bigger space. And so that was fine, I liked it. Mother was there too. But just about the time we started working there, my grandmother died. So Mother had to quit working, because somebody had to be home. The boys were still growing and they were still in junior high and high school. And I got more and more responsibility. I started buying. They just told me this, this, that, and the other, and the salesman would come in and show me samples and stuff. I was a full-blown buyer, couldn’t believe it, but I was! I was a buyer for all these little small accessories. And you know what? These salesmen would send me gifts! They’d say, oh because you got this, they’d give me two to three pairs of gloves. I had more stuff than I knew what to do with! And by that time, I met your grandfather and soon after that we got married. And so when I got married I quit working. 

Gl: Ok, so tell me about meeting Papa.
Gr: Chuckles Well, it was kind of a funny start. My sister lived in this apartment and Jessie met George and so did my sister Francis. And they hit it off, Jessie liked George right off, and she’s a very good judge of character. And she liked George, she always had a high regard for George. So there was Francis and Jessie and they said, “Oh yeah, there’s a third sister, we have another sister.” And he said, “Oh, well I’d like to meet her.” And they looked at each other, and they knew that I said don’t go looking for fellas for me, I can do my own finding. Dontcha go setting me up with anybody. I said if I get wind of it, I will not be there. And I meant it. As a matter of fact at that time, the few dates that I had, I was so disgusted and discouraged I said you know, I think I’m better off single, I’m just not gonna get married.
So they invited me over. This was on the first day of 1960. I’ll never forget it because it was my brother-in-law’s birthday. And we were celebrating his birthday. Let’s see, it was the four of them, my sister Francis, her husband, two kids, that’s four, Jessie, and myself, so there was just six of us. And so we were just having fun, having birthday cake and punch and listening to music and dancing. Jessie slipped out of the apartment and I saw her slip out, and she was gone a few minutes and then she came back in by herself. And she just got into what we were doing. I remember getting up from where I was sitting, and I went to the table, the little kitchenette that she had, because we had cake there and I was gonna get another slice of cake. And I was there and the doorbell rings. Jessie opened the door and it was George and his roommate. And she was introducing them to Rudy (Francis' husband) and the two girls, because he hadn’t seen them. And then he looked up at me and I was looking at the door to see who came in, and he saw me, and he made a beeline for me. And that just ticked me off. This is a setup! I got so perturbed. If George had just waited, I wouldn’t have been cross with my sisters. But he came, and now how would he know to come straight to me? How would he know? So anyway, I was very perturbed with him and what I did is, I was flirting with the roommate and I was ignoring George. And he was trying hard not to be ignored! Laughs So anyway, it was over and said goodnight and goodbye to everybody, and I thought to myself, “I’m gonna chew these girls out for good!” After the weekend, I didn’t get around to saying anything to Jessie and I had to figure out in my head what exactly to say. And so I get a phone call about the middle of the week... and it was George. I did not give him my phone number. I didn’t give anybody my phone number! 
And I said, “How did you get my number?” That was the first thing I said, “How did you get my phone number?”  
“Uh, you sister gave it to me.” 
“Which one?” 
“Jessie... ok.” 
And he said, “Now don’t be mad at her.” 
“Why should I be mad at her? I just want to know who gave you my number.” 
And he says, “Well, I asked her for it and I kept asking and so she gave it to me.” 
I said, “Ok, that’s fine.” 
And he wanted to go on a date, and I said, “No, I have a date already.” 
He says, “Well, can I call you again?” 
“Um… um…” I kept going “Hmm… yeah, I guess so.” 
And I thought that had discouraged him. I didn’t hear from him, until about, I think it was almost the weekend. And he called me again, he said, “You want to go out on a date?” And I said, “No, I don’t. I have a date.” I didn’t have a date, but I was trying to discourage him. I didn’t know what to do to discourage him. After the second phone call, I called Jessie, I said, “Jessie, why did you give him my phone number? I don’t want to date anybody. I’m just not there, I’ve had it with guys, they’re always a mess and I don’t want to mess with them!” 
And she says, “Lena, he’s a nice guy.”  
“How do you know he’s a nice guy?” 
“Well, because we’ve had coffee, we’ve visited, he talks about what he does.” 
“What does he do?” 
“He’s a air traffic controller at Love Field.” 
“Oh is that right.” 
And she says, “That’s a very important job!” 
“Well, I’m sure it is.” 
She says, “Lena, be nice to him. Go out with him, he’s nice. I’m telling you he’s a nice guy!”
I said, “Ok, I’ll give it some thought.” 
Well, it was some time, then he called me again. 
He says, “Well I hope you don’t have a date, I’d like for us to go out.” 
I said, “Ok, when do you want to go?” 
Laughs I think I shocked him! I thought, if I go out with him, maybe he won’t want me after we go out. So he came to pick me up. Our first date was on the first week of February. It was a very warm week, I remember that, it was extraordinarily warm for Texas at that time of the year. And he came in his baby blue, convertible, Chevrolet car. Here he comes with the top down. And he came to get me, and I looked at the top, and he says, “I’m sorry, I’ve tried to get that top up, and it just would not come up. I don’t know what’s wrong with it. I tried to get it to come up, and it would not come up.” 
And I said, “Oh, well that’s ok.” 
“But it’s gonna blow your hair.” 
I said, “That’s ok.”
Laughing I didn’t care what I looked like!
He says, “Well, let me just give it one more try.” 
I said, “That’s fine if you want to, but I’m fine with the convertible.” 
So he did and the top came up over us! Laughs It did what it was supposed to do, he was so happy about that. So we ended up going to a movie and then we went to this place that was very popular for hamburgers. So we went, had a hamburger and a coke. And we talked a lot, not really anything, just talked. He took me home and he actually was a gentleman! He opened my door, he walked me up to the front door, he took my hand, he shook my hand, he said he enjoyed the evening and hoped to do it again. I thought to myself, where did this guy come from? Laughs So that was our first date. After that it took me a while to really want to date him. And we started dating more consistently about four months later, and then by six months we were dating exclusively. And then the rest is history! I was just very grateful to my sister that she was true to her word that he was a good guy, and he was.

Gl: That’s wonderful!
Gr: Yeah it was, we had a good life. We got married and we had our family, I was a stay-at-home mom, and I loved it. I loved being married to your grandfather.

Gl: Tell me now about some of your favorite or funniest memories from raising my dad and Auntie Liz.
Gr: Vincent was a great kid. He was a delight, he was an absolute delight to me. He wasn’t bratty, not that I allowed it or anything. I read to him all the time. It was naptime and I’d hold him in my lap and read to him. And it was mostly books of animals, and the alphabet, and numbers. And I would read to him and he would just fall asleep in my lap, and I loved that. And I would put him in his crib and let him nap for as long as he liked. He wasn’t a fussy baby, he wasn’t a colicky baby. It was just a great joy to have him. One of the neighbors came, I was at the mailbox… this was when he was about a year and a half. And his crib was by a window and I had a curtain there.
And this lady at the mailbox says, “Oh your son is such a delight! He waves to me every morning that I go to work. And he’s at the window and he’s waving to everybody.”
I said, “He is?”
“Oh yes!” she says, “And he just loves it, he’s jumping up and down and waving to everybody.”
And I said, “Oh, well that’s great!”
So I thought to myself, hey I got to see this for myself. So I asked her "What time do you leave for work?" I got the time and I got up before then. And sure enough Vincent got up, and he rolled around in his bed, and then he pulls himself up on the crib, and he stands there, and he pulls, he gets under the curtain, and all you see is his little feet. Laughs And then all of a sudden, I see him jumping up and down, jumping up and down. And so I go very slowly and I pull the curtain.
I said, “What are you doing baby, what are you doing?”
And I saw him waving, “Oh, you’re waving at the people!”
Yeah, he was enjoying that! Everybody that came by, he waved at them, and they waved back. He was waving to everybody! Laughs So little things like that, he was just a delight. I had no trouble. Oh, and I need to tell you this, when Vincent was born, your grandfather said, “Um… he’s a little different.”
I said, “What do you mean he’s a little different, what are you talking about?”
Because I hadn’t seen him, they hadn’t brought him to me yet. So when they brought him, I took the blankets off, I started counting toes, and fingers, and everything.
I said, “There’s nothing wrong with this baby, what are you talking about?”
“Well, he has so much hair.”
I said, “Well of course he has a lot of hair!”
To me it was not a shock because the Spanish children have a lot of hair. That’s what I remember, George getting all excited about the hair. 
I said, “Well that’s normal, there’s nothing wrong with that.” 
And when we got Vincent home, of course, Grandpa gave him a haircut. Laughs I said, "Ok, if that makes you happy that's fine." 

So then when I had Elizabeth, they brought me to my room, and I was waiting for them to bring Elizabeth to me. Now your Grandfather had already seen Elizabeth right after she was born. So when they brought Elizabeth to me, I looked at her, I said, “That is not my baby!” I was expecting the hair, the darker skin, the dark eyes. 
I said, “That is not my baby.” 
And the nurse got the bracelets and matched our bracelets. “Yes, Mrs. Kluth this is your baby.” 
“That is not my baby. What did you do with my baby?” Laughs I was getting madder and panicky!
“But it is your baby.” 
“This. Is. Not. My. Baby!” I was getting really upset. 
And they said, “Well, let me call your husband.” 
And so they called George and here George comes flying down to the hospital, he thought something bad had happened. And they brought Elizabeth to me, and I said, “That’s not my baby.” 
And George said, “Oh honey, it is our baby.” 
I said, “Are you sure? She doesn’t look like our baby. How do you know, are you positive?”
He says, “Lena, when they took you into delivery, I was right out in the delivery room, and there was nobody else in there but the doctors and you. And there was only one baby that came out of there and that was Elizabeth. I saw her, this is our baby.” 
And I looked at her. 
She was bald. 
She had gray eyes. 
She was very fair. 
I thought, well I guess so. And I looked at George, I thought, well maybe she’s gonna take after George, you know, the coloring and all that. And I said, “Well, I guess so. I guess that is my baby.” But she was, she was my baby. And Elizabeth just grew, oh she was the most beautiful baby. And one day I was just talking, “Lord, if I had asked you for a baby like this… I… I don’t know if you would have given me such a beautiful baby! It’s just as if I ordered this baby and you sent it to me like this." I was just so thankful and in awe that this was my child.  And she grew up just beautifully. At a year, she was just as plump as she can be. And I’m telling you, she was a load to carry! And they always asked me, “How can you carry her?” I said, “Very easily!” You get used to the weight, you know. And then after she was two, she was beginning to walk, and when they begin to walk they begin to loose some of their weight. But not her, she didn’t loose a whole lot! And she was just a beautiful baby. And she grew up to be a beautiful young girl and a beautiful young woman. She’s still beautiful! But she was an adventure too, oh my goodness was she ever! Vincent was good, I never had any problem with him, always obedient. Well, she started walking and crawling. And she loved to be on the floor, and so before I put her on the floor, I mopped the floors real good, everywhere, every corner, everything I mopped. Then I’d feed her and she’d want to get down and crawl around, and that was fine. I was at the stove, and I saw her digging with her little fingers somewhere in the corner. And I was wondering, what in the world is she digging in that corner for? I saw she kept digging and I said, let me go see what it is. Just as I got to her, she found something and she was putting it in her mouth. She put in in her mouth and I said, “Open your mouth!” And she had teeth and she didn’t want to open her mouth, and I got my finger bitten, but I worked that thing open. You’d never believe what was in her mouth.
Gl: I don’t know.
Gr: A fly.
Gl: Oh no!
Gr: A fly! I thought I was gonna throw up. I said, “Elizabeth, I’m gonna put you in the playpen!” I said, “Go play with your toys!” Out of everywhere I cleaned, she goes in this itty bitty corner and finds this fly! Oh my gosh! So anyway, that was one thing. And then she starts getting into my drawer with the pots and pans. Well, pots and pans are not toys, she had plenty of toys to play with. But she was determined. The way my kitchen was, there was a hallway, and then you could come from the hallway into the kitchen, go around, and then you could go into the other door, and you’d go into the living room, and you could still see down the hall. So it was open, you know. And I’d close doors to the rooms, I didn’t want her to go into any of the rooms because I didn’t know what she’d be doing in there. And she’d go to my bottom drawer, and that’s where I had lids, smaller pots, and smaller things there. And I heard this clanking as she took them out. And I said, “Oh, no. No, no, no. That’s a no-no. You put those things back in their drawer.” 
And she looked at me like, “I don’t want to do that.”
I said, “Put them back in the drawer.” 
And so I got down and put everything back in the drawer and I said, “You go play.” 
So she crawled around and waited for me to be out of sight, and she goes back to the drawer, and pulls everything out again. I said, “Elizabeth, no, no, no.” And I swatted her hand, and we put everything back in there. And she’s just whimpering. And then she crawls around again, goes all the way around, and I was waiting for her, because I knew she was gonna crawl all the way around and come back again. And just as she got to the drawer, I came up and I stood there with my hand on my hip. And I said, “You gonna do that again?” 
And she looked at me. 
I said, “You go play with your toys right now.” 
And she did. She knew that she was gonna get a swat if she got into that drawer. Because she tried it again, and I swatted her, but a little harder every time, until it finally sunk in: stay out of that drawer! George says “Well, why don’t you put something there.” 
I said, “I’m not gonna put nothing there! That’s a no, and she’s gotta learn what ‘no’ means.” 
Because he, oh, he had a soft spot for her! I mean, she could just wrap him around her little finger like nothing. She’d look in his eyes and then just get her hands, and hold his face, you know. He’d just melt like butter. I could just see it, oh my goodness, he’d just melt like butter. She might’ve gotten away with some things, but if he said no, she didn’t do it. 

I had fed her, changed her diaper, and I’d put her in her crib. And I had lowered the thing on her crib real low where she couldn’t crawl of of it, because I wouldn’t put it past her to do that. Well I had just changed her diaper, and I was picking up all the stuff, and I had my back to her, and then just as I turned, here she was on her tippy toes, looking over the rail. And next thing I know, she goes head down! 
Gl: Oh no!
Gr: She went head down and hit the top of her head. I got to her, and her eyes rolled back, and then she kinda just shook her head a little bit, and she seemed to be ok. She didn’t know whether to cry or what! So I called my pediatrician, and told him what had happened. And he said, “Well, I hate to say this to you Mom, but because she rolled her eyes back, you’re gonna have to keep her up for 12 hours.” 
I said, “12 hours?” 
“Oh yeah, round the clock.” 
“Oh no, you’re kidding me.” 
And we had to do that. I had to keep her awake from the time I called the pediatrician to 12 hours later. All night long. George did part of it. But he had to go to bed because he had to get up in the morning and go to work. So during that time, I slept a little bit, then I got up and took over all night long. Then he’d get up, and finish the rest, until he left for work. So I’d get up, and it was pretty close to when the time was up. She wanted to sleep. She wanted to sleep so bad! So finally I changed her diaper again, put her in that crib, and she was out like a light! Laughs She slept, but it was hard keeping her up and entertained. Oh my gosh, I was worn out with that. But that was Elizabeth, she just kept coming up with one thing after the other. But that’s just part of having a child. They’re exploring, you know, it’s a new world for them, and they’re just exploring the world. And now, she’s married with two children, she’s got a married daughter. And I’m an old grandmother. Laughing I’m worn out!


     Be sure to check back next week as Grandma gives us some final closing words of wisdom. 



  1. This cracked me up. 😂 Your grandmother is so cute!

  2. This made me so happy. XD I couldn't take my eyes off the page.