This coming Saturday, March 8, 2014 marks 100 years since the birth of my maternal grandmother, Lula Luella (Thews) Wright. Not so much a mere blog entry, and definitely not a meticulous biography – this is a loving reminiscence in her honor.
Born in Crookston, Minnesota, to Rudolph and Lottie (Ralston) Thews, Lula was the younger of their two daughters; Ethel was the elder sister. Lula was named for her grandmother, Ancestor #1, Lula Earl Ralston.
[Aside – This story has a high potential confusion quotient. My Grandma Lula had her own Grandma Lula. I heard my grandmother referred to as “Lulu” or “Lulubelle” as often as not, so for clarity, I’ll call her Lulu, and reserve the name Lula for her grandmother.]
When Lulu was about eight years old, she moved to White Sulphur Springs, Montana. More correctly, she was moved. Lula was worried about the well-being of Lottie and the girls. She clearly didn’t think much of her son-in-law. (I know absolutely nothing about the man, so I can’t weigh in on that question.) Anyway, as soon as Lula, her husband and youngest children were settled in White Sulphur (having only recently arrived there themselves), she returned to Crookston and took Lottie and the girls back home with her.
Once in Montana, Lulu set about growing up. She did well in school, and at the time of the 1930 Census, was working for Mrs. Wright, who ran a “dining room”. By this time, Mrs. Wright had only two of her six children living with her – two sons, Edward and Louis.
Lulu and Louis were married in 1933.
Interestingly, Louie’s birthday was March 7th, the day before Lulu’s. The mnemonic device for this was, to paraphrase Louie: “Remember, ladies first. Except sometimes.” Their wedding anniversary was March 27th.
Next is a photo of which I’m especially fond. Grandma, looking sweetly content, standing with her brother-in-law, Jack Wright, probably in the mid-1950s.
This was taken in front of the house in Spokane – the dahlias are blooming, so it’s summer. And if it’s summer, that concrete porch is scorching hot!
And finally, the Grandma I knew best. Trim, smiling, and kind of immaculate, in a non-fussy way. She could still bend over, palms flat on the floor, without bending her knees.
The sounds and smells of that house are always in my head. Dove soap and Lucky Strikes. The subtle squeak of the rocker (now in my sister’s home) and the slam of the screen doors. Our portraits on the sofa table… that 70s cover on the old green sofa… Grandpa jingling the change in his pants pocket… their quiet laughs. Grandma died in January 1976, not even 62 years old, after a truly awful battle with cancer.
One of the very best things about being a genealogist is being reminded of my grandparents on a nearly daily basis. All four, strong and decent people; all four, missed. A lot.