1914 - Grandma Gruetzmacher's Funeral
by Wilben Long Newton
I remember a lot of aunts dresses in black with ditto veils when we went to Grandma's funeral, 1914 certain in my memory. I yield to 1907 for Grandpa, though I was always under the impression Mama said 1910. [Augusta Gruetzmacher died July 14, 1914. Her husband Paul Louis Gruetzmacher died December 2, 1905. Their son Paul died in 1909, which was probably the cause of the date confusion.]
Memories of Galveston 1914:
Aunt in black veil thrusting her face into mine. I asking, "Who're you?" Aunt: "I'm your Aunt Gussie." [Aunt Gussie would be Augusta Gruetzmacher (1880-1926?) who supposedly married a Bob Marquette and had two children. I haven't found anything about these folks.]
Someone taking me into the parlor on the night of our arrival and lifting me up to see the dead face of my grandmother. How shivery I felt! Afterward I kept being drawn toward the dimly lit parlor, but I never ventured over the threshold.
Morning after: Aunt Edith waiting with my pants and shirt for me to wake up and start having fun at Grandma's funeral. [Aunt Edith would be Mary Edith Gruetzmacher (1899-1974).]
Big barefoot kid of 14, Aunt Octavia, playing with us. She and Elizabeth had some kind of game wherein I was to be the captive, but I started crying and wouldn't play. [Aunt Octavia would be Octavia Elizabeth Gruetzmacher (1902-1958).]
To the beach late in the afternoon, Mama in a borrowed suit of Aunt Clara's, complete with tie-on head scarf. [Aunt Clara Gruetzmacher was the oldest child, (1878-1937), while "Mama" Matilda Elizabeth Gruetzmacher Newton (1879-1963) was the next oldest.]
Starting over, to the beach late of an afternoon, Mama in borrowed suit of Aunt Clara's, complete with tie-on head scarf and stockings (slippers yet!) Jerry bawling, afraid of the waves, Mama holding him and siting in one spot till the tide washed a hollow spot out. The rest of us paddling around. Elizabeth reported to Mama: Gracie's drowning. Mama yanked you up, saving your life.
Playing in the yard while the funeral was going on in the parlor. Seeing Grandma's casket borne down the front steps to the waiting hearse. Shivery feeling up backbone.
Memory of 1914: That cotton thing Ed had under glass. I remember it in the parlor at 1910 Ave. N in 1914. [Edward Gruetzmacher (1893-1900) had died soon after the Great Galveston Storm, of diptheria or scarlet fever, according to Grace. I wonder what that 'cotton thing' was? Perhaps a memento?]
Jerry drowned three chickens in a tub of water warming in the sun for wash day. He wanted them to swim. Also nipping a fig off a low branch with his teeth. This was considered by all the aunts as a great thing.
One lunch we had scrambled eggs and pork-beans, which I considerd singular, in that at home at 1009 Calder we always had meat for Daddy to cut up in little squares for us. Later we fell on evil days and sometimes had nothing, but then we always had meat, and it seemed strange that in Galveston there was none for anyone to cut up into small squares for me.
Big cat under table, Meetza. We had one named that in 1920 or thereabout, I recall.
Otto coming home for lunch, afterward lying on wicker couch with straw hat on waiting for time to go back to Pete Gengler's. [Peter Gengler's was a large wholesale grocer whose warehouse was located on The Strand.]
Otto waiting for time to hitch up and drive back to Gengler's, straw hat on, practicing sheet music, voice, "Get out and get under, get out and get under, get under the automobile." We kids scrambling and screeching around under foot until finally he said "You kids shut up!" Eventually he must have gone back to Gengler's.
The whole visit couldn't have been over four days, like leave Thu., return Sun. afternoon. But it seemed forever and a day. Ah, what fun! Grandma would've been happy that we had such fun at her obsequi[ti]es. Started in afternoon from S. P. [Southern Pacific rail] station (conductor calling "Nome" gave us name for our dolls town forever after.). Houston in early evening, but night before we could get on interurban and rackety-racket over causeway. Remember gawking up at Rice Hotel [downtown Houston], looking at moving sign in lights of newspaper boy running. Ice cream sodas at drugstore that wasn't Thames - Dunlops in 1914, I suppose. [Thames Drugs was a longtime Beaumont drugstore. Dunlops must have been the Houston equivalent.] Galveston, jitney to 1910 [Avenue N] on moonlit Broadway, cost 25 cents for the lot of us. Sad let-down coming home on gray Sun. afternoon. Daddy came before lunch and took us home afterward. It seemed forever crossing on the ferry, all those choo-choo cars weighting it all down. [For years, there was a railroad that went from Beaumont to Winnie and then down the Boliver Peninsula and over to Galveston via a ferry or railroad barge. The barge could hold the train engine and several freight and passenger rail cars.] The barge stopped for an hour, it seemed, out in the bay while they fixed something. Mama always said a fortune teller had told her she would be in a train accident that next summer, but that was the year of the 1915 storm. I remember Mama had a bag packed getting ready to go, but of course we couldn't. She gave me back a soldier and a rowboat I was going to take, and I saw no more of Galveston till I was a big kid of 18 and went over in the summer on a weekend excursion to visit Clara and Octavia.