Anna Matilda Adams Lemmon — my maternal grandmother

“Except in rare and isolated areas, crafts no longer exist as a way of life.[…] In our day, crafts are newly respectable, but chiefly as ‘hobbies,’ as ‘occupational therapy,’ or as new fashions in interior decorating. Yet behind the excuses given for indulging in craft activities, there lurks a kind of half-buried question, a faint suspicion that there is more to all this. . .

“The myths and traditions tell us that it begins from above; that all art, all craft, starts as a divine revelation. ‘Ideas,’ writes Coomaraswamy, ‘are gifts of the spirit,'” A Way of Working—The Spiritual Dimension of Craft, edited by D.M. Dooling. (A.K. Coomaraswamy quote from Christian and Oriental Philosophy of Art).

Anna and Cory Lemmon

By far, my grandmother, Anna Matilda Adams Lemmon, produced the most needlework of the women in my family, at least the most that remains in the family.

Anna Adams on her parents farm with some kind of bird

Anna Matilda Adams was born August 3, 1915 in Covington, Miami County, Ohio.  She had to help with farm work when she was a child.  Beginning at the age of 5 or 6, Anna started attending school at a one-room schoolhouse that contained eight grades.

They didn’t have electric lights at home, so they used coal oil lamps to see with and would take one from room to room.  They had a large coal stove for heat.

Anna Adams and Cory Lemmon - early 1930s

My grandmother’s family was quite musical and for entertainment in the evenings they would get together and play music.  My great-grandfather played the fiddle.  Her brother played the guitar, and Anna played the piano.  She said, “We had a good time, just playin’ music and singin’.”  That’s how Anna met Cory who would eventually become her husband and my grandfather; he came out to the house with some friends for the entertainment.

Dresses our grandmother made for my two older sisters and me - 1958

Anna was happily married, raised three children and never worked a day outside the home.  She stayed busy embroidering and crocheting throughout her life.

Crocheted dress for great-granddaughter Anna - 1988

She produced numerous embroidered pillow cases and doilies; she crocheted numerous doilies and various other items; and she produced probably hundreds of crocheted afghans.  I personally own four.

My daughter Anna with my grandmother who she was named after, 1988.

We celebrated my Grandma Lemmon’s 90th birthday in the summer of 2005.  I made a display of photos and some of her needlework that we had collected over the years.  At the time, she suffered from dementia and was eventually moved out of her home and into an assisted living apartment, and later to a nursing home where she died in 2010. The last years of her life she had very poor vision and was no longer able to do any needlework.

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Innocence and naïveté

When my dad first told me this story it made me laugh, probably because he told it in a way that was humorous. Sometimes, though, I think of it as poignant in its depiction of the simple innocence, naïveté, and basic gratitude of youth.

I think the first time my dad ever went to the movie theatre was the first time he saw an actual moving picture, as TVs were not a common household item when he was growing up in the 30s and 40s.

He must have been about 10 years old because he had his own money by then from a paper route. He and his best buddy, Harry Lamareaux, with coins in their pockets, walked to the theatre on a Saturday afternoon and went to the matinee. They bought their tickets; perhaps they sprang for a bag of popcorn to share and made their way to their seats.

In those days, and when I was young as well, theatres didn’t show 10 to 15 minutes of advertisements in the form of movie trailers before the feature presentation. The theatres showed you a short film, as perhaps you remember, typically a lengthy cartoon, before the movie started.

My dad and Harry, being only 10 or 11, thoroughly enjoyed the cartoon. In fact, they were possibly enthralled with the whole concept of moving pictures. When the screen went blank at the end of the short film, well satisfied, and having never been before, not knowing exactly what to expect, Dad and Harry stood up and left, thinking the movie was over. They missed the entire feature film for which they’d paid their precious coins.

They found out their mistake later when they got home and my grandmother asked about the movie.

My dad probably didn’t think it was funny at the time.

But time softens a lot of things.


Copyright © 2011 by Christine M. Grote