As I wrote about my grandmother’s cooking last week, I got to thinking about her house. I loved going to both my grandmothers’ homes. They lived about an hour away from us, and each weekend we would visit. When the summer came, I spent extended time there. As I was reminiscing, it dawned upon me that there are things both my grandmothers had in their homes that you don’t see today. Here’s what I observed:
- Toilet Paper Dolls: I don’t know who started this fad, but every grandmother’s home had one. If you went to use the restroom, you found a crocheted dolly on top of the toilet tank. There must have been an unwritten law that when you turned 60, became a grandparent or got your AARP card, you had to get a doll with a crocheted dress, slide it over a roll of toilet paper and place it squarely on top of the toilet tank. Those little doll eyes staring at you as you tried to do your business always seemed creepy.
- Plastic-covered Furniture: Who else remembers sitting on a sofa and having plastic stick to your bare legs? The only way you could scoot down or stand up was to peel your skin away, which always made an embarrassing noise. I don’t know who came up with the idea to encase our grandmothers’ furniture in plastic, but they should have spent a year working in the nursery as punishment. Yes, the furniture was as good 40 years later as the day our grandparents bought it, but it was so ugly we ended up fighting each other to see who got to haul it off.
- Dentures floating in a Glass of Water: A nightly ritual for most grandmothers was taking out their false teeth, placing them in a glass of water and letting them soak overnight. Usually the glass held some type of an effervescent solution to remove stains. Having your grandmother trying to gum you good night was one thing, but seeing their teeth bubbling in a glass beside them was another.
- Fuzzy Toilet Seat Covers: Every senior adult toilet seat had to have some type of decorative cover. Either Grandma bought a fancy seat, like wood-grained or covered with decoupage sea shells, or she got a cover to slip over the lid. Many grandmothers chose the fuzzy seat cover, which looked like it needed mowing. The problem with the fuzzy cover was that you knew someone had sat naked on it. Even as a young child, I knew that wasn’t right. But the cover did match the crocheted dolly.
- Bowl of Wax Fruit: These imitation pieces of fruit could fool the best of us, which is why you always saw teeth marks in the wax apple, banana or pear. They must have looked realistic after all.
Picture of Jesus: In many grandmothers’ homes, including both of mine, you would find an oval-framed picture of Jesus holding a shepherd’s crook and looking over a flock of sheep. This always confused me, because I thought Jesus was a carpenter. A more realistic picture would have shown Him wearing a tool belt and looking over a piece of furniture.
Before our church had air conditioning, the pew racks held handheld fans with pictures of Jesus looking over Jerusalem. And we also had His original picture hanging on the sanctuary wall. Rumor said it was passed down from John the Baptist.
- Family Bible: This was the biggest book in a grandmother’s house, even bigger than the Montgomery Ward catalogue. It, too, contained a picture of Jesus. It also had a section for genealogical information: birthdates, marriages and deaths. This Bible wasn’t to read but to display. But each of my grandmothers had a well-read and well-used Bible, not like the ones you see today. Every night without fail, when all the work was finished and the sun had gone down, you could find either one sitting in a rocking chair reading her Bible. I don’t know how many times they had read it all the way through
Back then, almost every family had a Bible-reading, God-fearing, praying grandmother. Many of us can look back and thank God for a grandmother who was connected to Jesus. Of all the thing I remember about my grandmothers, it’s their faith I most admire: “I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also” (2 Tim. 1:5).
No matter what you find in Grandma’s house, make sure your children or grandchildren have a godly senior adult who can make a different in their lives. That way, their best memories will connect … to Him.