When I heard about Lacy’s idea to interview her grandmother, I fell in love with the idea and jumped at the chance to interview my own grandmother, who I call Bubby. This week Bubby and I went out to a diner where we talked over pancakes and French toast, reminiscing about her life.
Bubby and I have always had a very special relationship. Since both my parents worked full time when I was younger, Bubby babysat me everyday until I was old enough to watch myself. During our many hours together, she would tell me stories. Bubby is a natural storyteller with a fantastic memory. She has the uncanny ability to remember even the smallest of details from many years ago – everything from what people were wearing to the day of the week. Growing up, I would beg her to tell me her “Bubby stories” and she would rattle off tales of her youth with perfect clarity.
One of my favorite “Bubby stories” is the story of her first date with my grandfather. The year was 1952 and Bubby was 19-years-old. Her brother had set her up on a blind date with the cousin of a girl he was seeing. The plan was for my grandfather to take Bubby to dinner and then a movie, but the order got mixed up. “At 7 o’clock, Pop-pop came to pick me up wearing a powder blue suit and blue suede shoes,” she said. But instead of taking her to dinner and then the movie like they had planned, he took her to the movie first. Since she had expected to go to dinner first, she was starving the entire movie. “By the time we got the Italian restaurant, it was closing,” she said with a laugh. “I think he must have been so enamored with me that he forgot the order.”
The author and her grandmother
Despite the dinner-movie miscommunication, sparks flew. “I liked him a lot,” she said. “I thought he was handsome and that he was very polite.” That was the first of many dates.
How do you view the concept of beauty?
“My mother was always heavy,” she explained. “And when I was 10-years-old I got the idea in my head that I didn’t want to be heavy.” I’m pretty sure Bubby’s been on a diet every since. In high school, Bubby began to feel self-conscious of her appearance. “I felt unattractive,” she said. Although it’s taken her many years to figure it out, Bubby now realizes that inner beauty is what’s truly important. “A lot of people concentrate on outer beauty,” she explained. “You can be beautiful, but so mean on the inside. You need to be beautiful on the inside.”
How did you view fashion in your 20’s and 30’s? How do you view fashion now?
Bubby learned the value of hard work from a young age. “I always wanted to earn my own money,” she said. She’d use the money she made babysitting or working at the “five and dime” to buy herself new dresses. She explained how back in the day people always dressed up. “Even when we worked, nobody wore slacks,” she said. “We always wore skirts and dresses.” Bubby continues to take fashion very seriously and is careful about coordinating the colors in her outfits. “If I carry a black handbag, I need to wear matching black shoes,” she explained.
The author’s grandmother and grandfather on the wedding day in 1952
What is the most daring thing you ever did?
“That would be when I eloped,” she said with a laugh. Even though I’ve heard the story of my grandparents’ marriage dozens of times, I still have trouble picturing my sweet little Bubby running away to get married.
After dating for only a few months, Pop-Pop knew Bubby was the one. “Take this ring or we’re through!” he told her one day, offering her his school ring as a token of his commitment. With Pop-Pop’s 21st birthday quickly approaching, and his imminent draft into the army, Bubby and Pop-Pop decided that they wanted to tie the knot before he was sent to fight in the Korean War. Pop-Pop’s mom approved of the marriage, but Bubby’s mom didn’t. So against her mother’s wishes, 19-year-old Bubby ran away with Pop-Pop to Atlantic City where the couple was married by a judge. “We sent my mother a telegram the next day telling her we got married,” she said.
What’s the secret to a long and loving marriage?
“I can’t say we never argued, because we did,” she said. “Sometimes we argued over differences of opinion, but we got through it.” Bubby and Pop-Pop raised three children together and remained happily married for 60 years. Pop-Pop passed away in the summer of 2012. “We stayed married all that time,” she said thoughtfully. “I guess because we were in love.”
Editor’s Note: When Lacy approached me with the idea of interviewing her grandmother I was instantly on board. Lydia is named after my own ‘abuela’ and the spirit of what we do here has always come from a place of learning from the amazing women around us. So, using Lacy’s original interview as a jumping off point, we will be posting one interview from various Lydia contributors and their own grandmothers every week this March, in a celebration of Women’s History Month. Like all of these women, every interview will be different, every matriarch imparting different words of wisdom. I am so excited to hear little pieces of these amazing stories and I hope you will be too. -KJ
Kimberly D. Horner recently graduated from The College of New Jersey with a degree in journalism and professional writing. She dreams of moving to New York City and fulfilling her life-long dreams of becoming a dog owner and having a paying job. When she isn’t curled up reading the works of Jane Austen or hunched over her desk writing at 3 a.m., she can be found on the stage – acting, directing, or designing costumes. Some of her favorite things include: Earl Grey tea, naps, Sherlock Holmes, tie-dye cupcakes, the musical My Fair Lady, and actress Lucille Ball. You can follow Kimberly on Twitter @KimberlyDHorner or read about her vaguely interesting life on her website.