My Grandmother’s House

June 7, 2010

Clara Anna Brinkman Dittmer, 1904-1995

When I was a child, my grandmother’s house in Plato, Minnesota, was the most wonderful place to be.

None of the other kids’ grandmothers had a bar room, but mine did. The bar room was stocked with candy and ice cream and soda pop and 3.2 beer, and best of all, a juke box. It was a place where, during slow afternoons, when customers were tending their farms, I could turn on the music and dance around the tables, or sit in one of the tall wooden booths and draw pictures of the ballerinas I hoped to become.

My family visited Grandma and Grandpa from far away every summer for two weeks. One year my father told me I had to start paying for the candy and pop I took from the bar room. But when I offered Grandma my carefully saved allowance, she wouldn’t take a cent.

In Grandma’s kitchen, hamburgers and onions sizzled on the stove most of the day and into the night. She cooked for the customers while Grandpa tended bar. They lived in back, on the first floor. The building had once been a stage coach stop, and the second floor was divided into small sleeping rooms. My grandparents turned part of it into an apartment. My bedroom had bunny wallpaper.

Grandpa retired and closed the bar room, but it still got plenty of use. With a table as large as King Arthur’s, it was the ideal spot for extended family gatherings.

Then Grandpa died. Grandma sold the house but moved upstairs as a tenant.

I grew up and, on a few occasions, went to Minnesota for business. I invited Grandma to dinner, but she had no part of it. She would cook, she insisted. With only a few hours’ notice, she could assemble a bevy of relatives and a humongous meal in her modest dining room.

Grandma’s upstairs apartment was a wonderful place to be.

Then Grandma moved to Glencoe, to the senior citizens’ Manor. The last time I visited, she fretted that she couldn’t cook the way she used to. But not one to let a wheelchair and crippling arthritis stand in the way of hospitality, she whipped up a casserole and homemade cookies at the dinette. Later she pulled candy from her cupboards and ice cream cups from her freezer. And she sent me home with cinnamon rolls, warm from the oven.

Grandma’s apartment at the Manor was a wonderful place to be.

Anywhere that Grandma lives is Grandma’s house. She has a new home now, and I know it’s a wonderful place to be.

One Response to “My Grandmother’s House”

  1. Pamela,

    I loved this article about your Grandma’s place in Plato..

    Your Friend,


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