A long ways from Adam’s rib

Published 6:01 am Thursday, March 25, 2010

Women? I’ve known my share and lived to tell about them.

There was grandma Kruckeberg, a mysterious German woman, who lived with my maternal grandparents a long, long time ago in my hometown of Tripoli, Iowa.

A widow, she spent most of her time in a tiny bedroom, which I was strictly forbidden from entering. When she did leave her room for meals, she ate in silence.

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I don’t remember her ever speaking a word to me. When she looked at me, I was scared to death.

My maternal grandmother, Minnie, and her husband George, were my daycare providers after my father died and my mother had to take a job to support the family. This was, of course, before welfare and food stamps.

In the summertime, mom worked one job during the day and a second at the sweetcorn canning factory in the evening.  i spent the days with my grandparents until I grew too old for that and took off on my bicycle for  a day of baseball, fishing, hiking and getting into trouble.

Grandma Minnie gave me rock candy she made to get me through the day until supper time. On Saturday’s, she baked bread and made coffee cake. I got to sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on the pie-size treats.

If I got bored or a rainy day interfered with summer, I could always go to their house and recover with a glass of grandma’s ice-cold lemonade and grandpa’s stories.

Grandma taught me how to say “dumb a–” in German. It came in handy when I would get in an argument with a bully. They never knew what hit them.

There was mom, of course, and like everyone else’s mother, she was in a league of her own.

Her twin sister, my Aunt Ida, was another woman who influenced me.

She was a liberated woman far ahead of her time.

Aunt Ida played poker with the men; the only woman sitting at the kitchen table with my uncles and older brothers, while the women shared the living room.

Family legend has it Aunt Ida carried a 38 revolver in her purse to ensure her poker winnings made it home late at night with her.

Girlfriends? Yes. Wives? One. So many surrogate mothers for this divorced father of two children, I can’t remember all of them. Just their kindnesses. Surrogate-grandmothers, too, when three grandchildren moved into my house.

Anyone could make a list of the females who have influenced their life that would match or surpass my own.

No list of influential females can touch that of the League of Women of Voters.

When Kristine Allas calls, I listen and act. When Lansing incorporates, she will be the first mayor of the city.

The Austine LWV will host a 90th anniversary of the league Saturday. It begins 10 a.m. at the Hormel Historic Home. Tickets are $15.

Talk about women who have influenced lives, and the LWV has them. Lives near and far. Women, men and children. An enduring legacy of hope and change before it became a popular political campaign phrase.

Don’t take my words for it. Spend a hour Saturday and learn how the LWV influenced the world.

No blonde jokes today. Just my congratulations.

You’ve come a long ways from Adam’s rib my friends.