Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Memories of Grandma Jennings

In honor of what would have been the 110th birthday of my grandmother, Alice (Muir) Jennings, I am crossing posting my memories of her from the soon-to-be-published book, The Descendants of Robert Muir (c1800-1869): Volume VII: James Muir (1848-1926) Descendants. It also appeared on the Robert Muir Family blog on 12 October 2015:

Alice was my paternal grandmother and the only grandparent who lived past my fifth year. She was a great grandmother and loved to spend time with her grandchildren of whom she was very proud. She took me on my first airplane trip when I was nine years old and we went on several trips together.

Alice (Muir) Jennings, "Grandma Jennings," personal

I spent a lot of time at her home on Carr's Creek in Deale Beach, Maryland, after she retired. We used to go to Amish farmers' markets to buy fresh bread and other goodies. She would often take me to the local amusement parks at several Cheasapeake Bay towns. Once I decided I was brave enough to ride the small rollercoaster, which was made of wood. I was the only passenger. It was fun in the beginning, but after that first downhill, I wanted off. The ride operator was determined I would ride to the drop-off zone. Grandma was determined he would stop the ride immediately. She won and walked along those wooden tracks to the back of the ride to carry me back to safety.

Alice (Muir) Jennings at my first condo c1980; personal collection

Dad kept a small flat-bottomed row boat at Grandma's and we used to row all over the creek. Once when my cousin, Joyce, and I, took Grandma for a boat ride, I dumped her in the creek as we were tying up to the pier. Poor thing! She was covered in black, sticky mud. We would set out crab pots and crab all week, keeping our catch in a live box. Then when our parents came down on the weekend, Grandma would steam the crabs and we would have a picnic feast.

Grandma Jennings with my brother, Ted, at my wedding, 1988;
personal collection

Grandma loved to play cards. When she started wintering in Florida, she would bring a new card game back home every spring. Our family played that game until she returned from Florida the next year until she came back with a new game. Slot machines used to be legal in Maryland when I was a kid. The local restaurant we patronized had one or two machines. You had to be an adult to play. So Grandma fed the machine and I pulled the arm. We were so tickled when "we" won something.

Grandma Jennings with her first great grandson, 1984;
personal collection

Grandma took me to Williamsburg for several days when I was in elementary school. We toured through several of the buildings and had a fine time until we went to the Weatherby Tavern. I fainted in the tap room and Grandma's yelling brought me around. She had organized the entire tour group to carry me outside. We decided to return to her home after that and she drove halfway there with her left blinker on. No wonder so many cars pulled out in front of us!

She took Joyce and I on a Caribbean cruise when we were in our mid-20s. Grandma's half-sister, Henrietta Muir, joined us and we had a delightful time. Most of the time Grandma and Aunt Hen stayed aboard and gambled while Joyce and I took in the sights in Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Mexico. At our fist stop, however, Grandma and Aunt Hen joined us. We took a cab through Port au Prince, Haiti. At the time, there were few if any sidewalks and the streets extended from building to building. Drivers were completely blind as they approached intersections with no traffic lights. They would toot their horn and if there was no reply, they would proceed. If a return toot was heard, drivers stopped. Grandma was not a fan of this system!

Left to right: Henrietta Muir, Grandma Jennings, Joyce Jennings, and me
aboard the Boheme in 1984; personal collection

She also loved to dance! Unfortunately, only her oldest son did as well. She found her outlet at local senior centers where ever she lived.

She was a great Grandma and is still much missed today.

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