Any of you who’ve ever been to Hungary or seen Hungarian needlework will know that Hungarian embroidery is among the finest in the world. My wife’s grandmother, Rose came to the U.S. from Hungary in 1923 eventually settling in Detroit with her husband and son, Stanley (my wife’s father).
Janis calls Grandpa Joseph White: “a Prussian.” He insisted that dinner be on the table at 6:00 PM sharp. Not 5:59 and certainly not 6:01. It had to be at 6. She had 5 sisters whom she in turn bossed around. Go figure. Knowing what and who she was up against in her marriage, I’d have to forgive her any character flaws or weaknesses she might’ve had.
She was known for a few outstanding skills: baking some of the best Hungarian pastry around. Her ‘horns’ and doughnuts (round and twisted) were absolutely delicious. But you didn’t want to eat her cooking. It was terrible. Go figure. She baked like an angel and cooked like the devil.
She was also a fine quilter. She created the quilt pictured, which hangs from the wall of our stairwell, in honor of her son’s engagement around 1945. That would make it about 58 years old. It is an extraordinary piece of work entirely stictched by hand–both the quilted fabric and the stitching too. Luckily, Janis’ mother, Adell, gave it to her years ago and its occupied a place of honor wherever she’s lived.
Rose White was not an especially outstanding grandmother or mother (at least from Janis’ perspective) nor was she a very warm person (her in-laws called her “Mrs. White” the entire time they knew them)–but we must celebrate what she did well.
I asked Janis if she remembered any stories about Grandma White. Here’s one:
She had a cousin, George White who lived in California (Grandma White lived in New York later in her life). After an overseas trip, George decided to return home by way of New York so that he could see Grandma and her son, Stan (Janis’ father). After talking at length about the Old Country, the Hungarian town they both grew up in and other childhood memories, George pronounced Grandma’s memory extraordinary. He couldn’t get over how she remembered the smallest details of childhood which he’d long forgotten.
When Stan escorted Grandma (who was of an advanced age) home after the family reunion, she turned to him and said of George: “Stan, who was that man?” So much for her memory!