Rick Houser:
Grannies had green thumbs

Rick Houser

A fact that I am still proud to say is I was proud that I loved my grandma Houser. Now this is by far no unique statement as almost every child has loved a grandparent and by all means it is a great thing to have experienced. As time passes and we become parents and eventually grandparents we look back at just how great it was to have had them.

Rick Houser

In my case I lived nearer my grandma Houser than my grandma Benton and there were fewer grandchildren to share her with than Grandma Benton also. But they had a lot in common. Both were petite women that stood under 4’ 11” in height and 100 pounds or less and worked endlessly day after day and into most all nights. Both raised their children to be kind honest caring and hardworking people that the only thing they could get from them was the pride they were theirs. Both ladies believed that a foundation in the church and in the schools were as solid a foundation as a parent could raise them on.

So it is safe to say the women of that era were sound and good folks. I know my grandparents were and I loved being around them with all the frequency that I was allowed. This is where I got to see more of Grandma Houser. The first four years of my life grandma lived on an adjoining farm that made it so easy to be her guest probably more than she wanted but I couldn’t get enough of what she was doing. Along with her house cleaning and laundry etc. (she washed everything in starch I think or bleach. So they were clean and looked proper.) In her eyes clean was the center of proper. Her home looked and smelled antiseptic and stayed that way. (Except when grandpa smoked.)

But when she got out doors she was one of the very best at not just raising garden but growing beautiful flowers. I know I have told how she would make sure I took home a handful of flowers to give to my mom. (She knew I needed help sometimes with mom as I was called a stinker a lot in those days.) By the time I was five she and grandpa decided it was time to move to town and be closer to things and not out in the country. They bought a nice two story home and it had a nice garden spot that they put to immediate and successful use. Now before a year passed Grandma had worked up many spots around the yard and planted many varieties of flowers she could tend to.

Year round she kept a large group of African Violets in her sun room and they were really so good anyone entering the house that way would stop and compliment her on their beauty. She would nod humbly and smile widely with acceptance. But what I remember on the outside of the house was a Rose garden she made and enlarged until it was not only of a good size but with several varieties of Roses and a rainbow of colors. They grew strong and hearty every year. Her success with her Roses became an accepted fact by all the ladies in Moscow. This in those days was by no means a small victory as each lady loved to garden flowers and considered their selves any ones match at any time. But it was conceded that Eunice grew the very best Roses by far.

In those days there weren’t any contests or ribbons and trophies handed out. What a person earned was total respect from all the other ladies and that is by far no easy task in any competition that they picked to compete in. I’m, certain by this time you are saying “well my grandmother could grow Iris’ far better or tulips etc… The answer is yes they could and did. The ladies of that time took pride in their gardening as much as they did say their quilting or baking. Some could do all three well and my grandmother was one of them by the way. This gave me reason to feel very fortunate to have her as my grandma. I also loved her cooking!

I know I have heard my wife tell of her Granny Parrish’s’ ability to raise the biggest and most beautiful Peony’s along with her wide variety of other flowers. During the 50’s and 60’s the yards must have looked super nice as a person drove past. Our yards are pretty today but it is safe to say they are decorated in a much different way. I know I was very aware of my grandmas as I was the guy who was contracted to mow her lawn every week. Their home was on a double lot and the lawn was a thick heavy lawn to mow. Grandma owned the heaviest push mower not propelled that could be bought. Every year I would hope this is the year when it would wear out but it was unfortunately built to last. (And it sure did!)

So as I would mow each week I would see my granny out there with her bonnet on primping over her flowers and garden. That is until the spring of 1968. That year grandma began forgetting more and more details and losing more household items. My grandmother had what was then called hardening of the arteries but today we call it Alzheimer’s. By fall dad and Aunt Margaret hired a couple ladies to stay with her and care for her. But I couldn’t see any improvements in her. Actually I was seeing her digress and this only saddened me. But since I was there every week I tried my hardest to smile and she and I would talk about whatever she wished. This seemed to boost her spirits a little.

Sometime latter a neighbor and friend of hers left her some photos of her and her Roses. When I looked at them I was so shocked and saddened. As grandma had failed so had her Roses and there in the pictures I could see her standing next to the Roses and both had gone downhill. For nearly 80 years grandma had succeeded in making this world a little prettier. But the pictures proved to me beyond a doubt that to grow something beautiful a part of you must go into its success. So when you see a yard full of beautiful flowers don’t just take them for granted. All those ladies I have spoken of sure didn’t and that gave them the undeniable title as the best at what they did. I guess it was the main reason I loved Grandma.

Rick Houser grew up on a farm near Moscow in Clermont County and loves to share stories about his youth and other topics. He may be reached at houser734@yahoo.com.