Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy Birthday Dema!

Today is my Irish grandmother's birthday. If she were still alive she would be 109. 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 Auxiliary 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.

When DS #2 told me they were having their first child I knew I wanted to called Dema to honor my own Dema.  I was so happy when Mr. E called me Dema for the first time.  Last week Mr. E and I had lunch with Grampa at his office.  I was able to get a couple of great photos of Mr. E with each of us.  It's hard to believe he is going to be three in a few weeks.

Happy Birthday Dema!  I hope you are approving of my Dema skills with Mr. E.

Sweet P, aka Dema


Denise in PA said...

Paula, what a lovely story about your Dema! And the photos are so sweet! I love that you are now called Dema too. o:)

Lori said...

that's a great family story!