Grandma Royer’s birthday is coming up soon. I have a picture of her here on my desk at home and her smile always brings back great memories of her; from time to time the picture reminds me of one of my favorite Grandma Royer stories.
Edith Royer was born on February 17th 1900. She grew up in a different world of no electricity or running water. She would often say that she was so glad she lived in a time where she could witness exciting history and wonderful, life-changing inventions. She was a teenager during World War I and a mother during World War II. She vaguely remembered the sinking of the Titanic and Lindberg’s flight to Europe. She remembered when they got their first telephone at home, and that six homes shared one phone line. If you picked up the phone and someone was already talking, you just had to wait your turn. Some of the best gossip in Clay City, Indiana found its origin on the Clay City Rural Telephone Company lines. It seems some folks enjoyed listening in on other folk’s telephone conversations so much it became a daily source of entertainment.
Grandma Royer enjoyed even the simplest of innovations. She hung on to the use of ice trays as long as she could. After all, how could you improve on a simple metal tray, filled with water and placed in the freezer compartment of your refrigerator? In just a few hours you had 12 nice ice cubes, enough to chill water or tea at dinner and supper. In case that sounds odd to you, on the farm, dinner was the noon meal and supper was in the evening. When I’m in charge we’ll go back to calling meals what they ought to be called.
Her Frigidaire that had served her so well went on the fritz one day. Forrest Collins of Clay City Electric pronounced it dead for good and offered to bring Grandma a new model that has an ice maker built right into the freezer compartment. She didn’t know what to think of such a thing. You mean, it just makes ice and you don’t have to fill trays or anything? Forrest assured her that everyone’s getting them and that she would enjoy this new convenience too.
My Mom went into town to Grandma’s house the day the men were to deliver her new refrigerator. Out with the old and in with the new. Grandma appreciated being able to pay cash for everything, and she had the money counted out and laying on the dining room table. She made the delivery men wait while she cleaned and scrubbed the floor where the old fridge has been. In a matter of minutes, the new Frigidaire was quietly humming, and in a couple hours Grandma was startled at the sound of ice cubes tumbling from the ice maker into the plastic holding tray.
The next day, Grandma called my Mom and said; “Jean, do you need some ice cubes out there.” Mom assured her that we had plenty of ice cubes and didn’t need any right now. They talked some more, and Mom thought Grandma was just trying to be funny offering ice cubes from her new ice maker. The seriousness of the situation became apparent a couple of days later when Grandma called again and asked to speak to Rich. That’s what she called my Dad. No one else did…another story for another time.
“Rich, come in when you can.” Dad went right in and found Grandma’s new freezer filled with bags of ice. She had started bagging ice and putting it in her larger freezer. She said, “Rich, I just can’t possibly use this much ice.” “This ice maker is nice and all, but it never stops.”
Forrest and his delivery men didn’t think of explaining to Grandma that when the tray gets full, the little metal arm catches on the pile of ice and doesn’t make any more until you use some. Then, sensing there’s room for another tray full, it then makes more ice. Grandma was staying well ahead of the little metal arm. As soon as the tray got close to full she was dutifully emptying the ice into bags for storage. Just when Grandma Royer was on the cusp of starting the Clay City Ice Company, Dad showed her the little metal arm and how it works. She laughed her signature laugh and made Dad promise to never tell anyone how silly she was. He promised that this story would stay in the family. I didn’t make such a promise.
You would have liked Grandma Royer, and she would have liked you too.
See you tonight at 5:00, 6:00 and 10:00.