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Words of wisdom from Grandma Ream

Hello. My grandmother (Jennie Whitmer) took a week to go and spend time with my Uncle Fritz Whitmer and my Aunt Cindy so she asked me to dig into her archives and find one of her articles that meant something to me. Here are some words of wisdom from my great-great-grandma Ream. Enjoy! — Sarah Watson

Grandmother Ream died from Hodgkin’s Disease at age 37, leaving ten children, the youngest seven months and the oldest, 17 years. Grandma Ream left a lot of the Ream family history in the pictures she took and in the many things she taught her children. Many of the pictures have been passed down to this time, taken and developed by Grandma, whose hobby was photography. I imagine that was kind of a rare thing for a woman of that time, especially one with such a large family.

Sam and I grew up with stories of the Ream kids and their home life. Of course we never had the opportunity to know Grandma Ream, in person, but we know her from stories told and written by our Father and our aunts and uncles. I’m sure Dad wanted his mother to be part of our upbringing, and he made her a real presence in our lives.

One of Grandmas rules was that under no circumstance, could a kid ever bring a stick into the house. Now that probably does not compute for those under a certain age, but when Sam and I were kids, it was still relevant.

For we and our friends played outside all day, every day, and sticks, rocks, mud and bugs were often incorporated into our play. Yes, sometimes we farmed, penning up fuzzy caterpillars and herding them from farm to farm and pen to pen. A good stick could be anything from a magic wand to an Indian spear. So I can see where it was probably a good idea for the kids to drop their sticks at the door, before going inside.

Another rule of Grandma’s was for the kids never , never to drink anything out of a bottle unless it was specifically given to them to drink. When he passed that one on, Dad added that neither should you ever, ever put hazardous substances in bottles that had formerly held soda or milk, etc.

The third homily from Grandma that I want to mention concerns table manners on the surface, but it’s one of those things that if you soak up the gist of it deep in your heart, it can change your attitude. It could change your whole life. Grandma Ream told her children never to drink from a glass without first blotting their lips with a napkin, so as “not to leave an unsightly smear on the glass.” Is that not succinct? In other words, Grandma was teaching her children to be aware of the sensibilities of other people.

Lest I trample roughshod over the feelings off others, or fail to remember how far-reaching and long-remembered my words and actions may be, I still have my father’s silver napkin ring to remind me that I must take care to leave no (more than I already have), unsightly smears.

Jennie is a long-time resident of Fredericktown, an eclectic gatherer of stories, information, and experiences to share with whoever would like to read them. She can be reached at 573-783-6721 or by mail at 2040 Hwy 00; Fredericktown, MO 63645

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