Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Summers on 49th Street

The year was 1955. Eisenhower was president, Nixon was vice president, and I was five years old. Both my parents worked full time. Not the norm for most Mother’s in this decade. However, life was good when I spent the summer months with my grandmother, Jessie.

She lived on 49th Street in Washington, DC. My sister, Marcia, and I spent our summers there. Since Marcia was five years older then me, she graduated from this annual event earlier then me. I loved it there, and have the fondest memories forever in my heart.

My Grandmother lived with her two sisters, Kathryn and Helen. Both of them worked full time and never married. Jessie did not work outside of the home. She was the home administrator. Probably not the title given to this position in 1955, but a well deserved title in retrospect.

Jessie was the best cook. To this day, I can smell the aroma of her fried chicken and pan gravy. For all I know, it could have been made with lard. Low fat cuisine was not the style in the 1950s. All I know for sure, was it was delicious. She also made the best apple pie. One of her neighbors had an apple tree, and Jessie and I would pick them fresh for the pies. Jessie would always use the apples that had fallen first, as long as they were not damaged. She was frugal and cared about the environment. I would watch with wonder as she rolled out a perfect crust. It was such an art. It was a labor of love for sure. My favorite was the rolled cinnamon and sugar cookies that she would make with the left over dough. Of course, I would eat them warm from the oven.

My Grandmother was also quite the seamstress. She made all my clothes as a child. They too were works of art. Dotted Swiss dresses with big sashes. A snow suit made with real mink trim that she cut from an old worn-out coat. She had a dresser full of fabric that I could choose from to make an outfit, and the amazing part for me as a child, was that she would make an outfit to match for my doll. She never had one sewing lesson, or used any store bought patterns. She took apart old clothes to understand how they were constructed.

My new blog is dedicated to my amazing, grandmother,
Jessie Hoffman Anders.


  1. Loved reading your first post, Nancy! Wonderful's hard to believe that the children today will have such fine ones like these. We were very fortunate to live when we have. Lots of my memories are linked to my grandparents who lived right next door.

  2. I was lucky enough to spend a lot of my childhood with my father's parents. I can still feel my grandmother's hands. They were rough from years of hard work but she only ever touched me so soft and tenderly. She worked in her gardens everyday. And yes, that is pural, gardens! They had the largest vegetable garden I have ever seen and then Grandma had her flower garden. I love sharing memories and lessons. thank you Nancy and congrats on the new blog. I will be back. Happiest of Holidays! the Oz

  3. Congratulations on your new blog Nancy! It's wonderful. I loved reading your first post. It sounds like your grandmother was a wonderful lady. Thanks for sharing your memories with us!

  4. Hi Nancy! I'm LOVING your NEW BLOG! It's great reading about your past memories........too bad that so many children nowadays will NEVER have such SWEET memories. I have LOTS of fond memories of my Grandparents. Can't wait to see/read more of your post. Hope you are enjoying the holidays. I LOVE your new Flickr avatar, too!
    Love, Karen xo

  5. my mom's mother was a big part of my childhood and some of my most treasured memories are with her. i enjoyed reading your story with your grandmother. thanks so much for sharing, Nancy!

  6. Oh Nancy what wonderful memories of my dear Grandmother this brought to my mind.....I spent a few weeks each summer with her at the farm and I can still vividly recall the little beds she made for my doll out of an oatmeal box and the soft cats that she made for me out of her scraps. They raised all their own food and her pantry was filled with can after can of her produce. The chicken on Sunday was as fresh as the homemade butter and noodles....a quarter of her pies was a normal serving size. And yes she cooked with lard!! I can still smell the smoke house filled with hams and such! She lived to be almost 100 and her legacy of nightly prayer on her knees remains an inspiration to me. Aww I hope that I can measure up to her standards in the eyes of my 6 (soon to be 7) grand babies!


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