She was born in a little town southwest of Springfield called Lowder. The family joke was any time we asked Granny (that’s what we call her) where she was born, she would say Lowder. So naturally, we would yell, “Where were you born!” To this day, she just chuckles when her great-great-grandchildren ask her the same question. Granny’s family moved between Lowder, Virden, Breckenridge, Decatur, finally settling in Harristown. She graduated from Stephen Decatur High School (the original one on Eldorado that used to be where the Decatur Civic Center now stands).
When Granny married, she lived in Macon. She had three children, two boys and a girl. While raising her children, Granny worked different jobs. The two that were the most interesting, the way she tells it, was when she was a school bus driver and when she went to “help out at the Macon diner.” She tells about how her daughter “volunteered” her to cook at the diner for a couple of weeks while the “real cook” had surgery. She was at that job for about five years...and she chuckles about that also.
When her grandchildren started coming along, Granny would help take care of them. She worked at a place in Decatur called the Snappy Service; a little 8-10-seat counter-service-only grill. At least three of her grandchildren were raised in the backroom, and helped out with the cleanup (we got paid in Lorna Doones). For as long as we can recall, Granny has always had a bulge on her right bicep. She explains that once when she was dipping ice cream for a milkshake (no soft-serve then), the ice-cream was so hard she popped the muscle in her arm and it just stayed that way.
Granny is so very family-oriented! Her son-in-law delighted her; like the time he was driving her into town. “He turned the corner, the door came open and I just fell out of the car. I think he was trying to get rid of me.” But she laughs at this too, and it has been told around our family get-togethers for almost 50 years now. She taught her grandchildren how to make sauerkraut and to do laundry with a wringer-washer (without catching your fingers). She learned from her grandson that when a little boy yells, “It’s got me Granny, it’s got me!”, that there will be a smashed, deader than dead frog in that little boy’s pant leg. (That same “little boy” will do absolutely anything for her to this day.) Her great grandson, has learned that you get a swat on the backside when you knock over a plant and then lie about it.
Her life hasn’t always been easy. She has buried two children, stating each time that a “parent isn’t supposed to bury their children.” She has also buried four grandchildren. She has had to give up her home (she now lives in a nursing home with her husband). Yet she has a beautiful, sunny disposition and what she wants, she usually gets, with a little quip “I’m 100.” Oh yes, she loves hot-fudge sundaes!
Happy birthday, Granny. With love from Ruthie, Jim, Shawn, Paul, Brittany, Dawne, Louie, Guy, Nevaeh, Sheila, and Uncle Butch (he calls her Mom!).
Ruth Kopec, Granny’s oldest granddaughter, is a registered nurse and director of nursing at Sacred Heart Convent in Springfield.