Family Legend

I thought a lot about who or what would qualify as a family legend for the Generations Challenge. Then I looked up the definition. “A legend is someone who leaves behind an unforgettable impression on others.” My maternal Grandmother, Iva Mae Lane Quist, immediately came to my mind. I’m sure my 27 cousins who called her Grandma would agree.

Iva Lane Quist on her wedding day

Grandma Quist (Iva) was born in Iowa in 1899 to Elmer Lane and Myrtle Lovett Lane (more about her later). The census records say that Iva lived on a General Farm. She was one of 14 children. Lots of farmhands to do chores!  When Iva was 18 she married Carl Quist who was supposed to be watching out for Iva while her boyfriend, Carl’s brother John, went off to war. Iva must have been a “hot” gal but but she was also a tough woman. 

Carl was a coal miner. As the story goes, Iva was worried about him doing this kind of labor which was dangerous and not steady work. So after the birth of 3 girls she got the family moving to the Gages Lake are of Illinois where Carl had relatives who might help him get a job. 

Iva and Carl Quist with Great great Granddaughter Renee Weise

I always thought of Grandma Quist as The Matriarch. My earliest memory of her is a Christmas party at her home in Libertyville, IL when I was 3. I think we had a big celebration because most of the men were there in uniform. This would have been in 1942. Grandma had cooked up a big dinner then we gathered around to exchange gifts. I got a huge orange wooden plane from one of the uncles who was in the Navy. 

I know Grandma Quist was a good cook but the only dish I remember is Kram/cram. Maybe that’s a family name for it because I cannot find it on the internet. Kram is a pudding made from rhubarb. I’m guessing it was a cheap dessert because there was always rhubarb in Grandma’s back yard. 

Grandma gave birth to 12 children; 7 girls and 5 boys. My Mom, Anne, was the third oldest and my Uncle Richard, the youngest was just 4 years older than me. All of the children were born at home. My Mom told me that when the younger ones were born Grandma would just stand at the end of a bed and the baby would appear. (Probably a bit of an exaggeration.) 

Fun-loving Granny Quist!

Over the years I often spent time with my Grandma. Two things stick out in my mind. Card playing and canning. Grandma loved to play Canasta. Over time she developed her own set of rules. We always jokingly started a card game by agreeing on the house rules/ Grandma’s rules. On one of my visits, when I was maybe 10, Grandma asked me if I wanted to play 52 PickUp.  Oh Yes, I said excitedly! …and she threw the deck of cards in the air. That’s one of those memory pictures firmly lodged in my brain!

Grandma Quist always had a huge garden and lots of us kids and grandkids to help. Weeding, watering, picking, shelling, chopping, blanching! The result was a bounty of food that she canned religiously. Beans, tomatoes, applesauce, beets, carrots, peaches …maybe even soups and stews if I remember right. But the best part was announcing to the world how many jars she had canned and stored on the pantry shelves. 42 jars of beans, 50 jars of applesauce! Wow!  Those who were married and had gardens were often in competition with Grandma trying to beat her canning numbers.

Grandma Quist died in the winter of 1970. She lived on a farm in White Lake, WI. I had been married for 11 years and didn’t see her very often but she did get to meet my 3 kids, her great grandchildren.  She got pneumonia and was not able to recover. I was not able to attend her funeral which I always regretted. But I regretted even more that I never told this tough, funny, hard working, caring woman how much I loved her.

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