My Grandmother's Antique German Prayer Book
My grandmother's little prayer book...now an antique.
Antique Prayer Book
Finding my dear grandmother's antique prayer book recently brought back all kinds of warm remembrances of her. This small little palm sized antique prayer book was safely tucked away in one of my mother's dresser drawers.
Since my mother died earlier this year I have been working my way through her possessions. This has been a chore that most people in my position have to tackle sooner or later.
Since we (my husband and I) and my mother had both sold our homes and found one that the three of us could comfortably share, we had been happily living together for the past three and a half years. I had hoped that we could have shared more years together, but alas, it was not to be.
My mother was my best friend and she thought the same of her mother. I dearly loved them both and almost thought of my grandmother as a second mother.
Did you note the date in my grandmother's prayer book? The year 1905 is now well past the 100 year mark which is generally the rule of thumb to classify anything as truly being "antique."
Her name in this small book was her maiden name as she was not yet married to my grandfather.
It would be twenty years before she would bring my mother into this world as the youngest of three children that she and my grandfather were to have and love.
My grandmother's parents were of German descent and her dad was a farmer in a small town in the State of Wisconsin. Losing her mother at an early age changed the course of the lives of all her family members.
Her brother stayed at home with his dad to help work the farm and my grandmother and her two other sisters attended a convent school during the week where they were also boarded. They would be picked up on weekends, holidays and in the summer and driven by horse and buggy back to the farm.
My grandmother enjoyed her convent school experience and as I was growing up and spending time with her, I got to hear many stories.
Although my grandmother's genealogical background was German and she learned that language at home, most immigrant families back then tried to learn English as quickly as possible. It was a matter of pride!
They carried their memories and traditions from the "old country" and perhaps, if fortunate enough to do so...some possessions as well. But as newly minted Americans, they tried to assimilate into this relatively new country sharing strengths they knew from the past and forging ahead by blending into the melting pot of America.
Most every nationality did that with only a few oldsters who could not easily wrap their minds around learning the new language of English therefore still speaking their former country's tongue.
Subsequently when my grandparent's got married they purposely did not teach their children German.
My mother used to tell me that when her parents wanted to speak and not let the "kids" know what they were talking about, they would talk to each other in German. This did not happen frequently.
Of course when getting together with friends of German heritage, most everyone could still sing old German songs.
Thus, with the exception of picking up a few words here and there, my mother and her siblings did not learn the language, nor did we grandchildren.
While it would have been nice to have learned German while growing up, I truly think that my great grandparents and grandparents had the correct idea. Learning the language of the country in which they chose to live and/or were born into was important to them.
If my husband and I decided to move to Italy, would we not be expected to learn Italian and wouldn't we wish to do so? If we moved to Portugal would we not want to learn Portuguese? Not learning those languages in the country in which we would live is a handicap and why would we wish to remain handicapped?
Thus although this little antique prayer book of my grandmother's is in German, except for a few words of endearment I only heard English coming from her lips when I grew up as her granddaughter.
One story that I heard from my grandmother when I was a youngster and spending the night with her (which was always a special treat) was when she slipped on some ice and the horse drawn buggy ran over her. She was not injured. The buggy was probably light with no riders in it. This really impressed me!
Not only was I unfamiliar with seeing horse drawn buggies as a mode of regular transportation, automobiles having taken over that prime role of moving people from here to there, but this had happened while she was staying at the convent school. To my young mind this foreign and exotic idea was firmly planted.
Many years later while in a lower grade, I was relating that story to my favorite nun teacher. One day that nun quietly pulled my mother aside and asked her the following question: "If you don't mind my asking, just how old are you?"
Apparently I was relating the story as if it had been my mother instead of my grandmother. My mother and the nun had a good laugh over that mix-up! My mother kidded me about that for many years!
My parents, brothers and I were so fortunate when growing up that we got to live next to my mother's parents and after we all moved to Texas together, only one block separated our houses. I loved them dearly.
As I said at the start, finding this little antique prayer book of my grandmother's brought back many happy memories for me. I have now passed it on to family members who will hopefully cherish it always as an heirloom and keep it in the family for generations to come.
Do you have books that belonged to special people in your life?
"Ave Maria" Shubert, Most Beautiful Places on Earth...
© 2010 Peggy Woods