Sunday, March 21, 2010

Memories - Grandma Gladys

When I was a child, I had the good fortune to have not only my four grandparents, but also two great-grandparents nearby. Grandma Gladys was actually Great-Grandma Gladys, but we always just called her Grandma Gladys. She was Dad’s grandma, the mother of Grandpa Meril Dean. As with Grandpa Howard, who I have written about previously, Grandma Gladys died when I was still pretty young, so I didn't know her as well as I would have liked. There are a few things I remember, though.
The first thing that always comes to mind when I think of Grandma Gladys is her sugar cookies. She made the most wonderful sugar cookies I have ever eaten. She made them really big and they were always kind of flaky and crumbly and oh so delicious. I asked Brad and Bobbi what they remembered most about Grandma Gladys and they both mentioned the sugar cookies right away.
And not just cookies, it seemed like everything Grandma made was especially good. I remember her apple butter very clearly too. I loved her apple butter so much that she used to give me my own little jar. I also remember kolaches, round pastries with a dollop of pie filling in the center.
I have one memory that stands out very clearly in my mind. Bobbi and I had just gotten new winter coats. I think we were just on our way home from the store and we stopped at Grandma's house, which was on the way. It was still late summer and quite warm out, as I recall, but we had new coats and just couldn’t wait to wear them, also we wanted to show them off to Grandma. So we walked into her house wearing winter coats and short pants. Grandma said something like, "You're wearing coats and have your bare butts sticking out.” That was just deliciously funny to me and Bobbi, I think Mom even got a chuckle out of that. I don’t know why that scene stands out to me, probably because of the bare butt thing. You know how kids are.
The other things I remember about Grandma Gladys are jus fragments. She wouldn’t let you sit too close to the tv, and she always called the couch a davenport. That word always sounded so strange and exotic to me as a child. Grandma used to let us drink coffee which made us feel very grown-up. Of course it was really just a cup of milk with barely enough coffee in it to turn it brown. If you were feeling poorly, Grandma would press her lips to your forehead to see if you had a fever. That was always nice, Mom had to use a thermometer for some reason. Crazy new-fangled things anyway.
And the peacocks. There were two or three peacocks roaming freely around Grandma’s yard. I have no idea where they came from, they're hardly native to Nebraska, and I have no idea where they went after she died. They just kind of disappeared. It was always a special treat to pick up a peacock feather whenever they lost one.
Bobbi reminded me of the cracker barrel that always sat on Grandma’s counter. It was just a plastic container that said “cracker barrel” on the side and had a white lid. It always had crackers in it and was never empty. Bobbi also mentioned something that I never really thought of before. She said Grandma always wore dresses. I never thought much about it, but I think that’s right, Grandma never wore pants.
Brad actually surprised me a little when I asked him about Grandma Gladys, but I should have known. Brad is the oldest of us four kids, seven years older than me, and naturally would have the clearest memories. Where I was only eleven when Grandma died, Brad would have been eighteen. Here's what Brad had to say:
“Boy, I loved going over to grandma's house. I even rode my bike over there sometimes just to hang out. It seemed like she was always cooking. It didn't matter when you went over, it seemed like she always had her apron on in the kitchen. Of course, everybody remembers her sugar cookies. I remember she used to give me coffee to dunk them in but that's all I did. I couldn't drink it. I always hated the taste of coffee, even with milk. She taught me how to play pitch. I loved going over with dad in the mornings after irrigating when everybody was there. It seemed like everybody came over after the morning chores. Dad, Grandpa MD, Tom Mercer, Craig Nutter, all sitting around, drinking coffee and eating cookies or coffee cake. Those were the good ole' days.”
Those are pretty neat memories and I kind of envy Brad for them. I had forgotten about the card playing, the Brandt’s were always card players. You could always find a few decks in the coffee table drawer.
Gladys Opal Brogan was born on July 13, 1893 in Surprise, Nebraska. She married Grandpa, Albert Henry Brandt, on August 6, 1920, and she died on March 10, 1982 in Kearney , Nebraska. She was a very sweet old lady and I wish I could remember her better. We never truly appreciate the wonderful things we have in this life until they are gone. I am so thankful for the few items I have to remember her by: her oil lamp, which always had red oil in it, the painted mirror that always hung over her kitchen sink, and one of her wooden spoons that looks like it got a lot of use. In her own small way, she played a part in raising me up into the person I am today. I hope she will be remembered by many more generations of our family.

Psalms 103:17-18 But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD's love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children's children- with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.

Psalms 79:13 Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will praise you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.


  1. I remember meeting you all for the first time, when I gave Adam coffee, chins dropped. I told them it was more milk than coffee, and he felt so grown up. Were they thinking of Grandma Gladys?
    I never had the luxury of grandparents, my two good one dies when I was eight one in March and the other right behind her in May. (something else we share in in common)
    But isn't it funny that the memories we have of our grandparents is the cooking???

    So neat!

    Great memories to hold near and dear.

  2. Wow, I didn't even think of the peacocks, which we loved. I often had feathers in a vase on my dresser! And, what about the peanut brittle in a pan out on the porch? I never ate any and still have no desire to, but she made it a lot, I think. And, the apple butter! Now, that was good! Thanks for all the memories (Brad, too)!

  3. I just thought of something else. Do you remember she had this brown welcome thing on her inside door in the kitchen, but it said "Wilkommen" or something like that. I think it was in German.

  4. That's funny. When you mentioned the porch in your first comment it reminded me of that brown thing on the door. It had a little cuckoo bird on it and the head was missing. Yeah, I think Wilkommen is German for welcome.

  5. In Dutch it means Will Bowls! lol
    (checked with babel)

  6. This is Greg Brandt, I miss Grandma Gladys' sugar cookies!

  7. Wow! How are you Greg? Thanks for stopping by.