By Gerry Roe
Embrace your uniqueness. Time is much too short to be living someone else’s life. Kobi Yamada
Should Be a Movie
Below is the story I believe could have been a movie. I wrote this in an adult writing class in the early 1990s. I was the next to the youngest in a family of seven. By the time I was born all my grandparents except one had passed away. The last passed away when I was seven months old. Therefore, I never knew grandparents. So the story below could be the making of a movie about surrogate grandparents. Including the poor family from the South post World War Two and the Great Depression.
WALNUTS AND TAMALE PIE
Come back with me to my childhood days, when I was five. I want you to meet two people who through their generous love and kindness etched indelible memories.
We lived in a small rural town named, Dorena, Oregon, fifteen miles east of Cottage Grove. We moved to this quiet lumber town on Row River when I was six months old. My family was poor; I was the next to the youngest of seven children. Our house was rundown and ramshackle with a bleak, gray clapboard exterior.
Our neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Crawford, became the most wonderful grandparents anyone could wish for. These lovely individuals assumed a surrogate grandparent’s role to the entire Roe family, and did so with such graciousness.
I have many fond memories of these two. In my mind, their appearances never changed. Both had snowy white hair. Mr. Crawford was a giant of a man, tall, lumbering, almost oafish, and worked in the lumber mill. His hearing was affected because of the loud noises in the lumber mill; as a result, he spoke in a loud, gruff voice. In contrast, Mrs. Crawford was a petite, dainty, meticulously groomed, prim and proper lady. She always wore tailored suits with a silk blouse. Her silk hose required an elastic band to pull high on the thigh and stocking top rolled over to secure. Her hair was coiffured of white cumulus clouds. She was as quiet spoken as her mate was loud. We would see them walking down the hill toward our house, such a contrast of stature and grace.
I could share many memories; however, two that remain so vivid in these sixty-nine years are associated with walnuts and tamale pies. You ask me what is the correlation? Really, there is none!
I could always count on going to their old country farmhouse and sitting on the front step with Mr. Crawford. While we talked about the day he would crack English walnuts for me. He would continue to crack them for me until I could eat no more. He was so patient. He also worried that I might choke on the nuts. Alas, one day I became very ill. It was gluttony!! Yes, too many walnuts. To this day I can not stomach cracked English walnuts.
Now, on to the tamale pie. If you had been privileged to devour one of Mrs. Crawford’s tamale pies, you would forever remember the taste. It was a mixture of spicy, tingling, pasty taste of the cornmeal, hot sauce, tomatoes and black olives. What a special treat! It was always a surprise when she would come down the hill carrying the yellow gallon Pyrex bowl of steaming hot, fresh from oven, tamale pie. Of course, she had it wrapped in layers of newspaper to keep it hot. She always managed to arrive in time to set it on the supper table.
These are but two of the many memories I cherish of these two wonderful Christian people. Several years ago their son gave me a picture of the them. I look at the picture and am able to feel their warmth, love and laughter. I smile as I think of their generosity and their accepting the Roe clan as family. I will long remember and cherish the friendship and guidance they bestowed upon me as a child. There will always be a very special spot in my heart for my surrogate grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Crawford.