Gramma’s night of teenage revelry
Now at it’s simplest, history is merely stories of what folks did and how they lived in the past. And it definitely takes on a new light when it is an “elderly” grandmother clueing you in on her teenage tales of rebelliousness. We often forget that grandmothers started out as little folks who go through all the growing pains just like the rest of us.
So when Gramma related one of her favorite teenage memories to “us girls” one afternoon, we knew that she was just the same kind of girl as we were, with just a little more life experience. It seems that Gramma’s parents had gone out for the evening one winter night. Gramma was in her teens at the time. Several of her girlfriends were over visiting for the night. I suspect they were also supposed to be keeping an eye out for the other siblings. In the 1920’s, there was no TV, no stereos, and radio was a fairly new invention. But Gramma’s family had a player piano. (For the young and unenlightened, a player piano uses punched paper scrolls to make the piano play by itself.)
So Gramma and the girls were having a grand old time that night listening to music and dancing around the house. Well of course, serious dancing can work up a serious thirst. In those days, folks often brewed their own wine from fruits and berries that grew locally—-not quite so much government restrictions on that sort of thing back then. In Great Falls, Montana it seems that one of the specialties is chokecherry wine. Gramma’s dad brewed his recipe of the wine and kept his brew stored in the basement. Now Gramma couldn’t quite recollect exactly, which of the girls decided that perhaps a little wine might be just the thirst quencher of choice. Hmmm…we have seen those little devil horns pop up on Gramma before.
The young teen ladies were doing some serious partaking of adult beverage and just dancing the night away. As the alcohol begin to take effect, the girls moved closer to the heat (Montana has some very cold weather and in 1920’s most homes had wood burning or coal stoves and fireplaces for warmth). Well the warmth began to intensify the alcohol’s effects. So when Gramma’s parent’s returned home that night, they found their oldest daughter and her friends had been into the wine cellar. They were most strict with and extremely vigilant over her social activities and every teen girl from any generation knows this is not something that your parents would be happy about. We asked Gramma how severe a punishment this warranted. Gramma had quite a grin on her face the entire time she told this story. She explained that she and the girls were “bawled out” pretty good—-okay for you youngsters that means her parents yelled at her.
Something in the delight she had in sharing this tale of rebellious teenage time reminded us that there is a consistency in all of us. Those who have come before us and those who follow will all share a common thread as our lives span. “Gramma’s” also have their moments of teenage willfulness and independence that sorely tests their own parents…and if you give them half a chance they will tell you all about growing up with a gleam in their eyes and a conspiratorial grin on their face.
Grandmothers were teens at one point in their life too, given the chance it is amazing some of the stories they will share with you. The saying goes take time to smell the roses well with that in mind take time to listen to the elderly they have some wonderful stories to share with us all.