It always seems odd to refer to grandparents as ancestors. I suppose that’s because I’ve been raised around them or grown to know them well in my adulthood. They’re people who have helped me become who I am in ways that “dead people” ancestors haven’t. Alas, grandparents are ancestors, so this week I’m writing about MPG’s Gram, Dorothy Orr.
The last time I was at my mother-in-law’s house, she handed me Gram’s “The Good Housekeeping Cook Book” to add to my collection. She had seen me thumb through it on countless occasions and finally saw decided it belonged in my own collection. It’s a 1944 edition, and was well used … and loved … well into Gram’s grandma years!
Looking through it reminded me a lot of Gram. Although there are almost no markings in the book – no ink in the margins – many pages are marked by slips of papers or dog-eared corners. Gram wasn’t cooking much by the time I entered the family, but it was obvious she has cooked up a storm in her lifetime. She always talked about food with me … things her boys had loved (MPG, his brother, father, and grandfather) … and I have several handwritten recipes from her. This book is just icing on that orange cake she used to make!
Gram was born on May 29, 1918 in Franklin County, Illinois to Felix and Tessie (Nickens) Orr. She was the youngest of five sisters: Edna (b. 1908), Fern (b. 1910), Jean (b. 1912), and Doris (b. 1916). Gram always talked about her sisters and how close they were. I was fortunate enough to know Jean, but came along after the others were gone. Gram and Aunt Jean had countless stories to tell. I always suspected these sisters caused a lot of havoc for poor Felix when they were younger.
Gram married Max Davis after Max’s return from WWII. Sadly, I don’t know the date and haven’t been able to trace it. Judging from the inscription on the cookbook, I’ll surmise 1946 until I prove otherwise.
Gram’s marriage to Max wasn’t a common topic of conversations as she lost Max in 1951, and I never thought to ask about their wedding. I always imagined Gram and Max having a whirlwind romance … they probably didn’t, but it is fun to imagine!
Gram and Max had one son, Thomas, MPG’s daddy. He was 3 years old when Max died. Gram raised him with the help of grandparents and her sisters, and didn’t remarry until Tom was an adult. Gram poured every ounce of herself into raising her son, putting her own needs on hold. She was Dorothy Henley when I met her, but she will always be a Davis to me.
Gram lived long enough to meet Noodle, something I’m grateful for. She left us on February 25, 2007, just two months after Noodle was born.