Gramma Cole

Gramma and me, ca. 1982

Gramma and me, ca. 1982

For Gramma Cole, all directions are given from the little railroad town of Ayer, Massachusetts.  The family joke is that if you ask her how to get from any town to any other town, she tells you to start at Park Street in Ayer.  She has lived more than 50 years in her own house less than a half a mile from the house she was born in, which is no longer standing.  Her four siblings settled elsewhere, but Ayer is the place she feels at home.

Gramma has vivid memories of her parents: her mother Stella a bit skittish, afraid of lightning, and Gramma’s connection to the Taylor cousins she stayed close to; her father George a great cook (he had been chef for General Pershing at Fort Devens), the provider for his family, and the driver for weekend trips that brought her away from Ayer for agreeable, short moments.

Gramma Cole, like Nana Hop, had a career as well as a family.  Following graduation from Ayer High School (’49) she became a telephone operator, and my memories of Gramma when I was a little boy are of Grampy bringing me to see her at the hospital where she worked.  I think her preference was for the old days of the switchboard in a hidden room; I may have been 10 or so when the old plug-style switchboard was replaced with a modern phone system and worse yet, moved into the lobby of the hospital (behind a high wall with plexiglass parapet on top — Grampy called it her monkey cage).  Maybe ten years later, even that amount of separation had been taken away, the lobby was re-done again, and direct-dial lines meant the hospital’s switchboard operator became the greeter and information person for hospital visitors.  I think she was ready to retire once that happened, and she did.

Gramma had a variety of hobbies:  Mom tells me (unconfirmed) that she took belly dancing lessons; once her children grew up and moved out, she took up oil painting; when her grandchildren were little, she always was making candy — melting chocolate disks and molding them into lollipops of many shapes and sizes.  Later came a flea market period, followed by a post-card collecting passion, then the great, long-lasting de-cluttering the house phase in which almost all evidence of the previous hobbies was discarded.

Gramma has been a good sport about the family tree thing, even agreeing to a DNA test.  Thanks, Gramma!  🙂