Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Day with my Gram

I have recently decided to face the fact that I am not getting any younger.  Nor are any of my loved ones.  I've also recently started researching my family history and I kick myself for not asking more questions and recording more stories.  With this in mind, I decided that I need to spend some more time with my Grandma. 
We spent a morning exploring The Tiskilwa Historical Society's Museum on Main.  Tiskilwa is a tiny, adorable little town.  My grandma grew up on various farms all around Tiskilwa and is a proud 1943 graduate of Tiskilwa High School (salutatorian, no less.)  She's quite impressed with the collection that her town has put together and we spent a couple of hours looking through it.

This piece holds a special place in my heart as the woman killed in the cyclone was my great-great grandmother, Marie West.  Sometime I will get a good digital copy of the story.  For now, this photo will have to suffice.  My sister wrote a paper about it when she was in the eighth grade.  I wonder if she still has it anywhere.

I thought that these shells were beautiful.  There were decorated by sodiers during WWI as a way to pass the time.   It's amazing that something so beautiful can be created amidst such stress and horror.

Tiskilwa had it's own baseball team?  Who knew?  You should see the pictures of the grandstands.  They were huge!  I am fascinated by how times have changed.

Another special piece to me.  My great-grandfather collected these as he worked the land.  As a child, I loved to look at them and try to imagine what life was like as a Native American.  I am glad that my Gram is loaning them to the museum so others can see them too.

I had to take this photo for the Tiskilwa Volleydoll uniform (the white shirt.)  Tiskilwa always had great volleyball teams and really gave us some tough matches. 

This is the outside of the Museum.  It is the former Methodist Church.

I am dying to get inside of this house.  Besides the fact that it is AWESOME, my great-grandma worked here as a maid before she got married.  My grandma said that the family had a huge water tank on the top floor that they would have to fill.  My great-grandma sometimes had the job of going up and saying "when" so that it didn't get over-filled.  My Gram also told me that her mom and the maids from this house used to get together with the maids from another AWESOME house across the street and hang out on their days off.  My great-grandma has been gone since 1988.  How I'd love to go back and hear more stories.

The steps up to Mt. Bloom Cemetery on the west end of town.  Not a good photo, but it was raining.  These stairs have always creeped me out.  They belong in a horror movie.


I always see turkey vultures when I am with Gram.  I am not sure what to make of that.  There were four in this tree, but by the time I pulled out my camera and inched the car forward, three had flown off.

This house stands on the site where my great-great grandmother was killed by the tornado.  It's less than a mile from where Gram lives now.

The Tiskilwa Historical Society has placed these signs, commemorating the 18 school houses that served Tiskilwa.  This is the one my Gram attended.  It was the only two-room school.  All of the others were one-room school houses.

And finally, this rock commemorates Providence Colony and the Providence Community Church, which operated from 1841-1967.  That was the church Gram attended when she was a girl.  It is my understanding that Providence was settled by a group from Providence, RI in 1836 and died out when the railroad bypassed it and went through Princeton instead.  Now, that's my dad's version of the tale.  Someday I'll take the time to research it more.

I am so glad that I spent the day with her.  My only regret?  I didn't take a photo of her.
I'll remember next time.  
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