Saturday, March 17, 2007

Happy Birthday Dema!

Today is my Irish grandmother's birthday. If she were still alive she would be 104. One of my nieces couldn't say grandma when she was learning to talk and started calling her Dema. Soon everyone was calling her Dema and the name stuck.

Dema was born on March 17 in Tomah, WI to Wilson and Isola Hilliker. Her father was a laborer. I don't know what her mother did. She married her first husband, Paul Bishop, on August 24, 1926. Paul was an embalmer and Dema was a foreman in a toy factory. According to the five paragraph newspaper article about the wedding Dema was a member of the Ladysmith Ladies Legion Auxialliary Drill Team. She was on her way to a Drill team competition on her honeymoon. I love the last 2 sentences of the article. The paragraph lists all the names of the women of the Drill Team who were also on their way to the competition. The sentences read, "The ladies in this party were leaving this afternoon and several stragglers this afternoon for La Crosse (WI) where they were anticipating a wonderfully good time. All traveled in autos." I suppose in 1926 it was worth noting whether someone traveled by auto or by horse!

At some point Dema and Paul moved to Minneapolis where Paul started a towing business. He used to work at the car races during the Minnesota State Fair. My mom has memories of riding in the tow trucks when she was a young girl. Dema also used to spend time with Dillenger and members of his crime gang, but she never broke the law. She also rode a Harley motorcycle although we don't have any pictures of those adventures. I know she also worked at Dayton's, a retail store in downtown Minneapolis. By the time I was born she had retired.

My grandfather died before I was born and Dema lived with us until I was 5 when she married the widower across the street. I got to be the flower girl in their wedding. Grandpa Harry died 16 years later and Dema lived another 14 years.

Dema was the one who taught me to sew, crochet, do bead work, needlepoint and cook. I have many memories of going over to house to make something. I used to stay at her house on Friday nights and got to eat a bowl of cereal before I went to bed. She used to put paper towels over the skinny vertical window of the living room door so I wouldn't get scared when I slept on the sofa bed.

I hope I will as great of a grandma as she was when I have more grandchildren. My only grandchild lives too far away for me to have him over on Friday nights. :(

Happy Birthday Dema!


Libby said...

Such a wonderful tribute to your Dema. Happy Birthday!

Nicole & Phil said...

She sounds like a wonderful woman, and you have lots of lovely memories of her!

tootsiesmom said...

Grandma's are wonderful influences on use. you are a truly dedicated to preserving her memories!

Wendy said...

Oh what a sweet story about your Dema. She sounds like a wonderful lady.Thanks for sharing.

bingo~bonnie said...

What wonderful memories of your grandmother you have offered to share with us! Thank you! :c) ~Bonnie

Anonymous said...

Oh, Dema...probably the strongest woman I've ever known. There were lots of things I learned about her in your blog! Happy 104st birthday Dema...we miss you!

And it's been a long time since I've seen you, too, Aunt! :)

Shelina said...

Just looking over your old posts and found your sweet tribute to your grandmother. As a genealogy buff, I just googled her name. Did you know her genealogy is online?

Lee said...

Hi, I came to your blog through Leanne'House - what a beautiful tribute to your granmother & what special memories you have - worth their weight in gold! Dema looks like a beautiful woman - full of compassion, understanding & heaps of love!!!
How beautiful your memories must be - you are a lucky lady (child) to have shared all those precious moments with one who must have adored you - we must all spend time with the ones who love us the most so we know how to pass on memories that will be cherished in future years and generations!!!!