{Vintage} Wisdom

Meet Ora Bliss Adams.

Ora is my great-grandmother, and she just turned 96 this week. Always (and still) a bright, strong, fashionable lady; a long chat with her can change your life… So, in her honor,  I’ve decided to pass on a little of her wisdom…

You don’t have it today like we did back then… and I’m sorry.

About “Grandma Bailey”

Ora was born in a small town in rural Ohio in 1915. She was the youngest of seven children, and her mother passed away when she was just 20 months old. Her kind, loving father and her oldest sister, Wilma, raised her and her siblings.

They studied hard, worked hard, baked, cooked, plowed, slaughtered, milked, churned, laughed, grieved, danced, survived and learned a lot about life on their self-sufficient farm…

Grandma graduated from high school, and married Joe Washington Bailey when she was 18 years old. Their first car was his brand new 1930 Ford Sport Roadster….red and black with a rumble seat. She says it was quite the sight…

She and my grandfather also led busy, involved, generous, hard working lives. They farmed for many years,  had two children: Viora Sue and Steve. “Sue” is my grandmother – my mom’s mother…

Grandma still lives on their 114 acre farm, today.

I can still see the horses, the people, the farms…

Living a long, happy life

There are many themes that run through Grandma’s life, but I would say that hard work, health and fashion tended to stand out. I think she’d agree that the lists below contributed to her seeing her 96th birthday.

Her thoughts about life are precious to me, and luckily, she has an almost photographic memory… Here are just a few for you to take to heart:

Ora’s Fashion Tips

(Circa 1940-60, but still applicable today)

{Sue’s wedding, 1958 – What a dress, what a color.}

1. An A-line dress is possibly the most flattering cut there is. No matter what your waist or hips are like, it can look nice on everyone. (I totally agree!)

2. NEVER wear pleats. They make you look fat. (Proud to say I made the husband throw out all of his pleated pants right after we got married… now this is great advice).

3. Buy versatile pieces – Mix and match your jackets, skirts and slacks. (But, slacks are mostly worn for bowling and farm work…. She’s a member of the national “600 Bowlers Club”, by the way.)

4. DON’T buy cheap shoes. It just isn’t worth it. She’s 96 and has no foot problems and can walk wherever she pleases. She said it is all about quality. (“Tweedies” were her favorite brand. This ad is from a 1956 “Woman’s Home Companion” magazine she gave me. Grandma said that they were $80 a pair in the 1940’s – Whew! Told the Husband about this tip right away…)

Ora’s Health Tips

(On the farm, or in your back yard…try a few)


We ate food that we grew, harvested and butchered…we baked our own bread, had three orchards and 13 swarms of bees…  Dad would always take apples and honey to the neighbors.

1. Eat like a farmer. Grandma ate local food when it was in season. They canned what they didn’t eat immediately, baked, used a root cellar, and never went hungry – even during The Depression and WWII. (You might not be able to eat only what you can grow, but try to stay local, eat what is ripe, and experiment with recipes that call for whole, nutrient rich foods.)

2. Sweets are a treat. It was a big deal to get sweets and penny candies, not a habit. Keep it a special event to share with others. (Even though you don’t have to trudge three miles through mud-covered roads to get your candy bars any more, act like you do…)

3. Walk, run, ride, move. Make it a natural part of your routine. Grandma said they walked everywhere, and didn’t even think about it. She claims it has made all the difference in her health and mobility today… They also rode horses, planted seeds, sweated and milked cows twice a day – Now that’s an arm workout!. (Three miles to church on Sunday, and countless miles there and back to school, to the neighbors, and around the farm.)

4. Dance. In the winter, Grandma’s family held square dances to entertain and keep moving even in bad weather. They rolled up the carpet, found someone to play the violin or banjo, and friends, family and neighbors danced the night away. (While you might not square dance this winter to keep holiday pounds off, try Zumba or a new workout to mix things up.)

{The picture above to the left is of my great-great grandparents. They were married in 1895. The picture above and to the right is of Ora with her dog – She put waves in her hair by standing over a teakettle.}

We worked hard…we led a good life.

I have said that I love stories, and Grandma’s stories are some of the best. I am proud of her and my family, and am thankful to know more about who we are, and where we have been… I challenge you to take the time to find out some of your own stories. You might be surprised at what you find.

{The picture above is one of my favorites. Love the collar and stripes. My Grandma and uncle are pictured with her… See how the fashion sense was passed down?}

{Grandma’s home – A place where joy and memories reside}

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12 thoughts on “{Vintage} Wisdom

  1. We are canning salsa as I speak….from tomatoes from our garden….Grandpa Luke still grows everything in it, even though he is 92!! He grew up on a farm in Delphos, just like your great-grandmother

    • Gerry – Thanks for reading! Grandparents and their stories are so special. We got to enjoy the fruits of Grandpa’s labors this summer (we ate the whole bag of sugar snap peas in the car on the way home :).

  2. We don’t have internet yet at our house so with my “internet hacking” at my parents’ here I am checking Freshly Minted Living. Love it!

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