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.
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.