|Clearly the happiest day of their lives.|
|One with the boys...|
|...and one with the girls|
I am a fan of a simple wedding and an extravagant marriage. I think a huge wedding can be great but I am much more drawn to intimate nuptials and the photos of sweethearts who got married in spite of the odds. I'll take a courthouse wedding over an extravaganza any day.
|To me, this is probably the most romantic photo in the bunch.|
|Bob & Leona|
Wedding Day 1949
I give my grandpa a lot of credit for inspiring my love of swap meets and hamburgers and everything old-timey. He loved to collect. He loved to read. He loved to tinker. He loved growing tomatoes. He was tireless in his affection for my brothers, sisters, cousins and myself. He is the kindest person I have ever met and he continues to inspire me more than 15 years after his passing. Yes, my grandpa was amazing.
My grandma? Well, my grandma was crazy. Her name was Leona. Tell me, have you ever met anyone named Leona that wasn't crazy? My grandma was so deliciously a product of her generation that I miss her every day. I think she was, quite unwittingly, the queen of wacky tacky. Her house was always immaculate; it was truly a "place for everything and everything in its place," type of home - including every rubber band and every glass jar that she had ever gotten her hands on. A great many years had passed, but to Leona, the Great Depression was still in full swing. I don't think she threw out a morsel of food in her entire existence. Every leftover made its way into a soup, a meatloaf or one of her famous jell-os. Her dinner table groaned under the bounty of food that was just enough to feed my family - who on any given day could eat any army under the table. My favorite stories to share about "Mima Lee" (the affectionate moniker we bestowed upon her only after she died) include pot holders, vacuum cleaner bags, answering machines and rape whistles.
My grandma lived in the desert and living in the desert is hot. She complained to my uncle enough times about the blistering temperature of the steering wheel in her Buick that he finally bought her a steering wheel cover. Apparently that gesture was far too little and far too late. My grandmother, mistress of innovation, had already solved her problem and decided that pot mitts, being sufficient to protect her hands from the scalding heat of roasting pans, were the perfect solution. She could be found driving around Sun City, CA wearing seasonally-appropriate pot mitts. Yep, they changed with the seasons.
My grandma, in an effort to outsmart the 99cents Store and their outrageous mark-ups, only shopped at her local 98cent + Store. Feeling that the check she gave each of us for Christmas was too impersonal, she always loaded up gift bags with the very best trinkets and treasures to be had for 98cents +. One year she showed up at our house and put all of our presents under the tree. However, something was decidedly different that year; the gift bags had a dull-grey finish, a cardboard adapter and printed instructions. Did you know that at the 98cent + Store holiday-themed gift bags are $0.98 each but vacuum cleaner bags are 3 for $0.98. You do the math.
My grandma could not figure out her answering machine. She hounded us for months to come out to her house so we could record the outgoing message. During a visit to her house, we sat down and finally recorded her outgoing message and she was grateful. She was grateful until her sister, a real downer, called her and, unable to reach my grandma, heard the following, "Hello, you have reached Leona's House of Ecstasy. If you are a gentleman caller, please leave your vital statistics and she will gladly return your call." After that, we started receiving threatening messages on our answering machine. Where was her sense of humor?
My grandma had extra toothbrushes in almost every drawer in her house. She decorated her Christmas Tree with porcelain dolls. She employed the blender in almost every meal that she prepared. She hid her coin collection in the air ducts. Oh yeah, she loved us. I know because she gave each of us a new rape whistle every year.