Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Book of Me, Prompt 7 - Grandparents (Part 2)

These Book of Me posts are inspired by weekly prompts provided by Julie at Angler's Rest.

Part 1 of this post is about my maternal grandparents, Gary and Esther (Wallace) Baker. This post will focus on my paternal grandparents, John and Mildred "Millie" (Kennison) Gamble.

John and Mildred (Kennison) Gamble

John Gamble during
World War II
John Everett Gamble was born on 12 April 1918 in Cabot, Washington, Vermont to Edward John Gamble and Gertrude B Baylaw. He served in Northern France in 1945 during World War II.

My grandfather was a sweet man who loved his grandchildren very much. I can't recall a time when I would leave him without getting a kiss and him saying that I was a good girl. But despite his good nature, my grandfather was a drinking man.

John Gamble circa 1980s
I have vivid memories of him sitting at his kitchen table with a beer and tobacco pipe. I can still recall the pipe in my mind. The bowl of the pipe was a light brown-more tan than anything-and had a rough texture. The stem was dark brown, smooth, and shiny. His chair was at the back-left of the table. Sometimes his friend and neighbor, Abner, would join him. Near the chair was his rolling desk where he kept his important documents. After his death, the desk was passed on to my father. 

When he wasn’t sitting at the kitchen table, he would nap on the living room floor. He had a “bed” (a pillow and blanket) between his chair and the couch (where my grandmother-who always called my grandfather by his full name, “John Gamble”-was usually sitting). You could only see his legs and hear his snores.

My grandfather died at Copley Hospital in Morrisville, Lamoille, Vermont from complications caused from heart surgery on 31 December 1996.

Mildred "Millie" Eva Kennison was born on 29 July 1921 in Richford, Franklin, Vermont to Carlton "Carl" Edgar Kennison and Marie Eva Burnham/Bonneau. She married John Gamble on 20 December 1941 in Cabot, Vermont.

Millie (Kennison) Gamble
standing in her kitchen
My grandmother was a feisty woman and never took anyone's crap (for lack of a better term). She certainly was not afraid to speak her mind, and often worded things without much tact. She once told me that she could never die because Heaven wouldn't take her and Hell was too scared.

My grandmother & me
Circa 1979/1980
My grandmother loved to tell stories (over and over and over again). Some of her favorite was about her and her sister, Myrtle, hanging out at the train tracks in St. Albans [Vermont] till 1:00 in the morning when they were teens, or hitch-hiking to Massachusetts to see my grandfather while he was stationed at Fort Devons. She also told me that my grandfather proposed marriage to her three times before she said yes. The first two times she was holding out for a proposal from another boy, which never came, so three times seemed to be the charm for my grandfather to win her over. I loved my grandmother's stories. I only wished I would have thought to record them while I had the chance.

Millie Kennison, Eva Burnham/Bonnea,
and Myrtle Kennison
During the last few years of her life, my grandmother suffered with dementia and toward the end, could not remember much of anything or anyone. She did start conversing with herself a few months before she died, and when asked who she was talking to, she would say "John Gamble" who predeceased her by over 12 years. She died in her sleep on 20 December 2009 at her home in North Hyde Park, Lamoille, Vermont.

For my entire life, my grandparents lived in the olive-green house on Main Street in North Hyde Park. They actually purchased the home when my father was quite young. He recalls moving from their drafty farmhouse in Bakersfield, Vermont where they had an outhouse and no indoor plumbing, to this house in North Hyde ark where they had a bathroom inside and would stay warm throughout the night. He and his brothers thought they had moved into the lap of luxury. In reality, the house was small and run-down (at least when I knew it). It was 2 stories high and had a small basement fl of cobwebs & spiders. The first floor was where the living room, kitchen, and my grandparent's bedroom was. The 2nd floor had 2 bedrooms, which I assume were my father's & uncles when they were young, but during my lifetime one was a guest room filled with my grandmother's treasures, and the 2nd was my uncle's, who never managed to leave his parent's home. Sadly, the house was torn down last year and all that remains is an empty spot where many of my childhood memories once stood.

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