Amanuensis Monday – Tales from Two Grandmothers

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Technically the title should read “…One Grandmother and One Great-Grandmother,” but that doesn’t have the same literary ring to it.

I’ve discovered, in going through all the family memorabilia I’ve inherited, that my great-grandmother Sophie (Roberg) Wilson, wrote the occasional poem.  Every once in a while I’ll stumble across a little verse labeled “Mother Wilson,” or “By Sophie Wilson.” The following is one I found today while rummaging through some cards and letters, most dated 1950:

Friendship Garden

Friendship is like a garden of flowers fine rosy
It can not reach perfection except through loving care
Then new and lovely blossoms with each new day appear
For friendship is like a garden grows in beauty year by year

by Sophie Wilson

The second “tale” for today, and one about a special kind of friendship, is my grandma Velma (Swing) Hoffmann‘s story about their family’s pet squirrel. I remember when Grandma first shared her story with me, though I can no longer remember the occasion for which she wrote it:

The most interesting pet we ever had as children, and there were many, was a squirrel. We lived in central Illinois and had gone into the timber near the Vermillion River to look for spring flowers. Three young boys had gotten some baby squirrels, no doubt having killed the mother and robbed her nest. They showed them to us and my little sister just had to have one of them so my Mother agreed to take one. It was so tiny that it just fit into the palm of one’s hand and we had it for three weeks before it opened its eyes. My Father didn’t think we could raise it as sometimes a wild animal will not take food but my Mother prepared a formula and fed the baby every three hours, day and night.

As the weeks passed the little squirrel became the pet of the household. We bought a toy doll bottle and it learned to drink its milk, holding the bottle in its front paws like a baby. When we ate, it went around the table over our shoulders for a handout from each one of us. Or, if it was outside when we were eating, it would climb up on the screen door, hang upside down and “bark” at us until we let it inside. My Father used to give the squirrel ginger snaps and, when it had eaten all it wanted, it would bury the rest under a pillow. My Father would get the cookie, give it back to the squirrel and it would bury it again, patting down the pillow with its front feet.

When we gave it a grape or plum to eat, it would turn it quickly in its paws and the peelings would fly, first from one side and then the other. We really enjoyed all the things we learned from this little pet.

In the fall of the year, it disappeared and some friends in the country called and said the squirrel was at their place in a walnut grove. My Mother went out and brought it home but within a week it was back in the walnut grove so we decided it was looking for companionship and let it stay there. However, we never forgot our little friend and the enjoyment it gave us.

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