Soon I’ll Turn Into A Recluse

 15-year-old Helena wrote a hundred years ago today:

Monday, January 16, 1911: How the days do fly, half-a month gone already. Can hardly realize it, but I have to. I just do wish something would occur to break the same old terrible routine of mine. But it’s always ditto. I’ll soon turn into a recluse, or perhaps something worse, if something won’t happen.

Her middle-aged grand-daughter’s reflection 100 years later.

January 16, 2010. Hmm . . . I wonder if Grandma often said throughout her life that she might become a recluse?

When I’ve asked people who knew Grandma what they remember, several said that she became somewhat reclusive in her later years. They even used those exact words.

Is this entry a prediction of the future? . . . or did Grandma’s concerns lead people to draw that conclusion? . . . Maybe it was a little of both.

My memory is that Grandma was very elderly—but I don’t think of her as a recluse. She lived in a little brick bungalow on a rural road.  She didn’t know how to drive, and was dependent on relatives for transportation.

After my grandfather died my uncle always brought Grandma to church. And, after church and Sunday school, our family always took her home. We often took her to McDonald’s for lunch before taking her home .

Back then the closest McDonald’s was in Montoursville—about 20 miles from McEwensville—so it was a nice Sunday drive. Everyone in our neck of the woods was thrilled that city restaurants were finally coming to rural Pennsylvania—and felt incredibly cool and urbane to be eating at McDonalds.

Yikes—how could we have been brainwashed by the media enough to believe that French fries and hamburgers were better than the home-produced foods we normally ate?  (I can’t believe that my memory is right—but I think you could buy a hamburger for 25 cents in the mid-1960s). But at least we considered McDonald’s food to be a Sunday treat—not something to wolf down on a regular basis. In any case, it was a nice outing with Grandma.

Some of my strongest memories of Grandma are of  those Sundays–and of her, my brother, and me squeezed into the back seat of my parent’s Dodge Monaco. Some weeks Grandma was very quiet and just endured my brother’s and my pushes and shoves —but other weeks she talked about making pickles . . . or gardening . . . or whatever.

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