Grandma and Grandpa Ransom by Michael Ransom (1997)

Printer: Johnson Printing, Editing: Sylvie Nickel

In 1976, I tape-recorded two hours of conversation with my paternal grandparents, James and Mildred Ransom. During our conversation, I asked them questions about their ancestors, childhoods, courtship, Grandpa’s World War I experiences, raising their children, surviving the Depression, and tending their farm. Grandma died in 1980 and Grandpa in 1985. After their deaths, I occasionally listened to the conversation that I had recorded. It was comforting to hear their voices and to hear them laugh. In 1996, I decided to write a book about Grandma and Grandpa as a lasting tribute to them and the lives they had led. In March 1997, a local printer finished one hundred copies of my book, and I immediately shared it with family and friends. Something I never expected came from this expression of love for my grandparents—an exciting new adventure opened to me, one that would combine my love for writing, interest in peoples’ life stories, and satisfaction of preserving memories of times gone by.

Excerpt

Grandpa was gruff, Grandma was nice, and theirs was an old-fashioned marriage. A couple married and had kids so that the children could help them farm. Neither the husband nor the wife would be heard to say "I love you" so that others would hear, and never would they kiss in public. The wife was expected to do woman's work and the husband had the upper hand.

Needless to say I never saw grandpa holding grandma's hand, nor she giving him a peck on the cheek. That wouldn't be proper. But when Grandpa looked one last time at Grandma, lying ever so prim and proper in her casket, he sobbed uncontrollably. He could be stoic no longer; his true emotions had to show.

Oh, to be able to go back in time and see them during their courting days. They had known each other since grade school, but as Grandma said, she hadn't much thought of marrying him. Where or when did the spark ignite? When did Cupid shoot his bow? They did laugh and hold hands and do all the silly things that couples in love do. I wish I had seen that side of them.

World War I came between their engagement and their wedding. Grandpa told fascinating tales of his times overseas. He talked often and proudly of the Inter Allied Games, which he was able to "work." His eight months in Paris must have been something for a young Iowa farm boy who had never ventured far from home.

Let's hear Grandma and Grandpa tell of their courting, the war, and their wedding.

Grandpa: We started going together in 1917.

Grandma: I was teaching in Thornton at the time. It wasn't in your head [marrying] at that age [going to grade school together].

Grandpa: I was 23 when we got married. I went to the service in July 1918.

Grandma: How old was I?

Grandpa: Just past 22. (This exchange is so typical of conversation with Grandma and Grandpa. Grandma remembered so few specifics, and those she did were often wrong. She would innocently make a statement or question, and Grandpa would gruffly correct her or provide the exact information. Here Grandma can't remember how old she was, but grandpa knew without missing a beat.)

Grandma: We went together a couple years.

Grandpa: We started going together in the fall. We were engaged in the early part of eighteen. Nineteen eighteen. And then I went in the service in July and was gone a year. Then I come back on the morning of the sixth of August and we were married the 27th [of August, 1919]. We went together most of the time that I was in the service. (Grandpa chuckles at the thought of this long-distance courtship.)