Remembering Gina

I thought it would be fun to give attention in our next couple posts to the grandparents of us cousins. Given our varied ages and locations, we must have had different experiences with and connections to Emil and Gina Borreson. So, first Gina, who was born July 25, 1880 (and for younger family members: that’s Gina with a hard “G,” not a “j” sound).

Let me begin with a photo of our grandmother outside her little house in Whitehall. This one brings a smile to my face, because each time I look at it, the word that comes to mind to describe Grandma, her hand on her hip, is jaunty – a word I hadn’t really thought of applying to her.

Gina at her house in Whitehall

Let me begin with a listing about Gina gleaned from her daughter Clara’s invaluable book, Homestead. By the time Clara published this (1980), her mother had already passed on 20 years earlier. Here’s what I found:

  • As a newlywed, she helped with the outside chores and some field work.
  • In summer she had a vegetable garden from which she put up food for the winter.
  • In winter she crocheted and pieced material into quilt comforters – and she made over 300 of these quilts!
  • She sang Norwegian hymns around the kitchen table.
  • In 1912 she made many horse-and-wagon trips with red bricks for the new house.
  • For this house she crocheted by kerosene light many new curtains for the windows.
  • She loved to entertain – Sunday dinners, for example.
  • She was involved with the Ladies’ Aid and the Young Peoples Society.
  • After Emil died, she traveled by Greyhound Bus to the homes of friends and relatives.

I remember being a junior at Blair High School the December Grandma Gina died. I recall she would come to stay with us several days at the time (as she did with other family members, I think). I think she loved visiting with people, probably loved to keep going. I had the feeling “the grass didn’t grow under her feet,” as the saying goes. In the summertime, as long as she was able, she’d go to the woods on our farm to pick blackberries and raspberries – and thick prickly brush and biting mosquitoes didn’t discourage her. I also have a vague memory of her darning socks stretched over a burned-out light bulb, a help to my mother. And at night before she retired, I recall that she loved to drink a warm or hot milk-and-water mixture. We kids always thought that strange – but who knows, maybe she’d be drinking a cappuccino were she around today.

I’m sure others have livelier and more personal memories, but maybe this can generate a few thoughts.

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5 Responses to Remembering Gina

  1. pobept says:

    My great grand ma was born in 1884 and my grand ma in 1910. I’m sure that great grand pa and grand pa would ignore my observation, but I’m sure the women of that era worked more hours and every bit as hard as the men.

    Feeding and raising a family was not for the weak backed or lazy.

  2. Glenn says:

    No doubt about the hard work – a family of ten children also meant every one learned what that meant, I’m sure.

  3. Glenn says:

    Thanks to Naomi for her comments that I have permission to add: “Some random thoughts of Grandma Borreson. She made the BEST sugar cookies and they were HUGE! I remember going berry picking with her and my mother in the hills to the east of the farm…. She came to visit us in Hayward in the spring of 1956, the year I graduated from high School. Strange as it may seem, I can still remember how she smelled! A little like vanilla! She was always calm and worked so hard all the time, with few complaints, that I heard. What dear memories I do have of her. Oh, and she made dandelion wine which we had “tastes” of when she lived in her little house…” – Naomi

    • Glenn says:

      Interesting, isn’t it, the unique memories we retain. Thanks for the lively memories of cookies and dandelion wine (sorry I missed out on that – probably not of age!). I wonder if we could remember enough to do a post or two on foods in the Borreson family.

  4. Glenn says:

    Lesley comments, “I remember picking strawberries with Grandma Gina at the Other Place. The strawberries were way up in the valley behind the old house. On the way up we looked around the house and I got stung by black shiny wasps. Grandma immediately put wet mud on the stung area. It didn’t hurt anymore! I don’t remember how many berries we picked, but I do remember watching the leaves of the poplar trees blowing in the breeze – so beautiful! Grandma was always sewing or making the hooked rugs. I wish I had paid more attention. I would love to make rugs like the ones she made.” Thanks for sharing, Lesley. – Glenn

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