New Potatoes

new potatoes

New Potatoes

” Douggie,  Do you supposed you could get me just a few new potatoes?  I’ll steam them with some fresh green beans, onions, maybe a little bacon and top them with butter. ”    Grandma Marie  in her thick German accent every June.

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Grandma M immigrated to America on the Bismark when she was 19 years young.  My aunt told me later, she never saw her father alive again.  She came by railroad to Chicago where she found a job.  Her aunt and uncle, a farmer from Iowa were her sponsors.  At some point she came for visit them..   While here , she met a 2nd generation  German farm boy named John. His parents and her aunt and uncle used to get together to play cards….and the rest shall we say is history…my history 🙂

Marie and John married, scratched out a living on the farm. She was a city girl, who grew up near the North Sea.  Grandpa used to tell me, some people would make fun of him for marrying a “city girl”

 “What’s it to you?” he told them.

Grandma didn’t  realize it until it was too late, that grandpa had a fondness for  alcohol. They had a little boy. (my father)  Grandma said later, if she could have found the money, she would have went back to Germany with her little baby , but by this time American was in the midst of the Great Depression..

Then  came World War 2.

John and Marie canned chickens and beef, then boxed it up, sent it back to Germany after the war.

Their sacrificial kindness kept several families from starving to death.

Then in the early 1960’s  Marie, found a lump in her breast.

It was cancer.

Cancer treatments in those days were not what they are today.

Doctor didn’t give her much of a chance.

Grandpa, said “The hell with him,” and found another doctor.

Grandma had her breast removed, and lived  another 40 years.

I was in my early 20’s,  newly married with two babies of my own when I had a spot for a garden.

I think of Grandma every June when the new potatoes are ready..

“The skins come off when you scrub them.” she would tell me, and they do 🙂

grandma early20s

Grandma right before she left Germany.

fred and hannah otten and grandma

Grandma visiting her aunt and uncle on the farm in Iowa.

Annie,Grandma  Mieka 1984

1984 Visit from  Aunt Annie, and Mika from Germany

. (Grandma is in the middle)

Grandma, the new potatoes are ready. Was thinking about you this morning.  Love, Doug

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15 thoughts on “New Potatoes

    • Awe that is sweet…Tell me more about your grandma! What was she like? how often did you get to visit her? What was the farmhouse like? I love details 🙂 DM

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      • Of course, when I met her she was grandma, but I wish I could have known her prior to that, as Vernona. She raised my dad, his twin and four other siblings alternately on the dry prairies of eastern Washington state and then here in the western side in a small rural farming community. I know that my dad’s dad was killed in some sort of train accident and that she remarried an abusive drunk, who I believe also died through an unforeseen accident.
        Her home then was about an hour away and I would often go with my dad to visit her. We left early in the morning so that we could have breakfast with her and it was always ready when we got there, a huge farm breakfast. The kitchen was the biggest room in the house. It’s funny because I remember her house as a farm, yet as an adult I realized that it was very much the suburban farm…a very large plot of land for growing vegetables, housing a few chickens and some outbuildings. Her ‘farmhouse’ was white clapboard, and the house itself was relatively small, but it had an amazing enclosed back porch room that held her canned foods and other odds and ends that I can’t pinpoint now, but must have been fascinating to a kid because I remember spending most of my visits there. The house was filled with ‘grandma things’…knitted afghans, crocheted doilies, both hard rocking chairs and overstuffed cushy chairs. And quilts…quilts everywhere.
        Grandma was a big woman, not overweight, but just big. She fit the quintessential stocky farm wife image and she always wore an apron. She wasn’t a huggy sort of grandma, more of a practical, tell it like it is grandma but she showed her love through her food, especially her pinwheel cookies. She lived to be 98.

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        • That is exactly the kind of description I hoped you would write!!! 🙂 Thank you for taking the time Deb. She reminds me of my mom’s grandma…Can’t imagine the life that generation of women endured. Well, time to go 😉 DM

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  1. Great memories. Mine of my paternal grandfather are of roses, of my maternal grandfather playing cribbage, and of my Dad thousands of things, including tickling his melons and cucumbers with a feather in his greenhouse!

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  2. Wonderful memory and post; to think of someone leaving at such a tender age and never seeing a parent again, that just stops my heart. She looks so happy in that visit photo, where she’s in the middle. MJ

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  3. Your grandma’s recipe for new potatoes sounds exactly like the “recipe” my grandmother used: although, of course, there was no recipe. She just knew what to do with food.

    And the porch she’s sitting on with her aunt and uncle looks remarkably like my grandmother’s porch. We had a porch swing at one end, and four of those old-fashioned metal chairs, like these. Good times, for sure.

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    • those old metal chairs are both sturdy and comfortable. After writing that post I ran to the store and picked up an onion and pepper to steam with some taters myself this morning. I could almost live on that stuff 🙂

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