My grandmother has died.
Even facing infirmary and dementia of late, she made it 94 years without a harsh word for anyone.
this one every time we went over. (Well, this one got a regular play as well.) These song definitely swing a bit -- but her usual fare was more Bobby Vinton and Laurence Welk. I made her a CD of that stuff a few years back but found it unlistenable myself, even in a retro-kitsch sort of way :)
She was Polish through and through -- her parents last names were Gąsior and Koczur -- and her married name Thompson was actually anglicized from Tomaszewicz one generation back. She spoke Polish with her relatives and made lots of Polish food, and danced the polka at family events with my grandfather. I tracked her heritage a bit last year and found the Ellis Island document of her parents arriving in 1908, which was very cool. They had her after they arrived -- she was the ninth of ten children (!).
She lived in Camden NJ for most of her life -- a place now infamous for being the most dangerous city in America. Seriously. The Google Maps street view car didn't even go down her street, I'm sure for safety concerns. It was a much nicer place while she was there, at least early on -- Mummers Day parades are my earliest memory of it.
She lived on her own into her nineties -- on the second floor, which required climbing stairs. Pretty amazing. Never learned to drive, I believe, and I don't remember her ever having a job outside the home. She made a mean batch of chocolate chip cookies, and always gave me a few tins of them to take with me whenever I visited.
I am exceedingly glad I got to see her just last month when I was home for my parents' 50th, even if she wasn't "all there".
Helen Thompson 1917-2012