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Ella and Boss

My Agrarian Grandparents of Van Buren County, Iowa

Published by MaryAnna Bentley at Smashwords

Copyright 2011 MaryAnna Bentley


This short memoir is for my family and everyone who enjoys reading the memories. It is for those family members who remember my grandparents, but especially for those who never had the pleasure of meeting them. I have put together the stories as I remember them. Please keep in mind that many times nothing is ever really the way we remember it. If you knew these fine people and remember things a bit differently, I totally understand. I only recorded these events as I recalled them. No more, no less. I’ve decided to share this work so that my memories can be enjoyed, not criticized or corrected. So if accuracy is your concern, no need to read further. These memories were written down simply for enjoyment.

Chapter 1: Family Gatherings


Nearly every month, my father’s side of the family would gather for a birthday celebration, with the exception of November and December. (If you had a birthday in one of those months you were expected to celebrate along with the Pilgrims or the Christ Child.) It was these celebrations that developed and matured my sweet tooth. Each family would bring a cake and a half gallon of ice cream to Grandpa and Grandma’s house, which meant four different kinds of cake and four different kinds of ice cream since the grandparents always contributed. There we would gorge ourselves, trying every kind of cake and ice cream available. Butterbrickle ice cream and Grandma’s white cake with hickory nuts were always my favorites, though I never turned down the other options. Seconds were encouraged. After all, we were healthy, growing kids who needed nourishment. I’ll never forget packing into my Grandmother’s two bedroom, approximately eight hundred square foot house along with the other twelve grandchildren, all happy as clams at the proposition of multiple servings of cake and ice cream; nor will I ever understand how she managed to raise three children in that space. But somehow, all twenty-one family members managed to survive in those close quarters for our birthday celebrations. Occasionally, we were more than twenty-one when Grandpa’s sister Daisy would come back from California with her daughter, or his sister Carrie would get a rare urge to participate. Now and then a cousin of my father’s would show up for the festivities. Mostly, though, it was just merely the twenty-one of us!

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