Memories of my grandma Emma Hoth McNeil Scott (by Jerolyn Peterson Stringham)
Colaborador: johnostout Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
My grandmother was born June 11, 1887 in Logan, Utah to William McNeil and Emma Berger Hoth, married Daniel Scott December 11, 1907, bore five children (Brigham, Virginia, Elwood, Marjorie—my mother, and Esther, and died August 28, 1967 in Logan, Utah. She was much more than a few names and dates to me, hence, my feeble attempt to acquaint you with this ancestor I dearly loved.
My family lived in Layton (Utah), when I was young, and we would pack up the car and travel through Brigham City (Utah) and Sardine Canyon to get to Logan (Utah). My parents would have us watch for the spires of the Logan Temple, and when we could see them, driving down into Cache Valley, we knew we were almost to Grandma's house. We could see the temple lit up at night through her front room window, which always made us happy.
Grandma lived in a very small house with no foundation, so the floors tilted on enough of a slope to be able to roll marbles or cars down the linoleum kitchen floor. There was a living room, front master bedroom, a small (and very cold) bathroom, and a back bedroom where my parents stayed when we visited her. Colleen and I were fascinated with the small corner shelf which held two or three pieces of doll furniture. If we were really good, sometimes grandma let us play with them. My sister, Colleen and I stayed in that room and slept in the old, iron framed bed, with squeaky springs, when we would spend summer vacations without our parents. The kitchen was heated by an old black Monarch cook stove, and the back bedroom and living room had coal heater stoves. For some reason, there was a backdoor out of the kitchen as well as the back bedroom (which were right next to each other). The house was very humble, but we always received a warm welcome. My sister and I would sleep on a fold out couch in the living room, and once I remember having two chairs put together to make a bed for me. Needless to say, it wasn't too comfy, but I was happy to be at my grandparent's house, which always had a special feeling.
My grandmother always wanted to be a nurse, but she wasn't able to because her eyesight was too bad. She also had diabetes, a bad heart, and a goiter, which is a large growth in the neck, which can make it difficult to breathe. It is caused by a lack of iodine. Because they add iodine to salt now, this condition is rarely heard of today. She had a chunky build and most of the time her legs and feet were swollen until it was difficult for her to get her shoes on. I would often sit on the floor and help her. She had a generally cheerful attitude, despite poor health. She was personally very clean, and taught me that you could take a sponge bath when there wasn't time to jump in the tub. She liked to laugh, but could also put you in your place quickly when needed.
Often, she would send my sister and I next door to the little neighborhood grocery store run by Mr. & Mrs. Jensen who lived in the back part of the store. We liked going there, and often my grandparents would give us a few pennies they had been saving for us in a china cupboard, so we could buy penny candy. We could buy a small sack full for just a nickel. We kept our eye out for discarded popsicle sticks outside the store, so we could use them as boats to float down the irrigation ditch out front.
Grandma was an excellent cook and loved to see people enjoy eating her food. She insisted that you eat until you were almost too stuffed to move. When there were large groups such as at Thanksgiving, Christmas, Decoration day, etc, the adults would eat first, and then the children, hoping the adults wouldn't eat it all before we had a chance. We didn't need to worry though, because there was always enough.
She made the best fried chicken (freshly retrieved from the chicken coop out back; slaughtered and cleaned by Grandpa—which in itself was a fascination to behold, watching them run around with their heads cut off until they flopped on the ground). She would always save the "wishbone" for us, and supposedly, if you go the biggest piece, your wish would come true. I loved eating Germade cereal, homemade bread, chunky applesauce, potatoes and gravy, turkey sandwiches, poor man's cake, lemon pie, carrot pudding and anything else she could whip up. She taught me how to make chocolate frosting, and sometimes let me crack eggs into a bowl, which I occasionally missed and they landed on the floor. Oops! She had a wire toaster you would put bread between, then set it on top of the cook stove until it browned. I loved opening her kitchen cupboard because it smelled so good from the spices and such, which she kept there. She had a pig cutting board, which my grandpa made. There was no such thing as wax paper or plastic wrap at the time, so she would carefully wrap her baked goods in a clean dishtowel and set it on top of the large metal flour bin to keep it fresh.
Sometimes we would help bring in wood and coal for the cook stove, but it took courage in the winter to go and get it, since Logan (Utah) was very, very, cold then. There was also a root cellar out back that kept garden vegetables and bottled fruit cool. It had stairs down into it and had a distinct earthy smell.
There were two chick coops out back and we would feed the chickens wheat from a large metal barrel, and cautiously gather eggs (Rhode Island Reds were known to be a bit grumpy about giving up their eggs). One of the coops held little baby chicks and had a big round incubator with a light to keep them warm. It was fun to see the little yellow fuzz balls running around, peeping loudly. There was a mother pig and her babies further back—once they got out of the pen and Grandpa had to chase them down. He picked the piglets up by their curly tails and dropped them back in the pen. The mother soon followed her babies. There had been a cow back there at one time also—a summer apple tree, a garden, and a bit of a fun down garage which held a late 1930's or early 1940's green or tan car (I can't remember for sure). Sometimes Grandpa would take us for a ride in it at about 10-20 miles per hour. There was a large shade tree just outside the back door with a wooden tree swing that my grandpa made. Colleen and I spent hours playing on it, letting our imaginations go wild with all kinds of adventures.
Mother said Grandma was a good seamstress, and could take anything apart and remake it to look like new. Everyone did that in those days. Since my grandparents were poor, nothing got wasted, and if my grandma got a pretty new apron or linens, she would wrap them in tissue paper and put them in her drawer to save them. She rarely used them because they were so special to her. She made Colleen and I matching jumpers one year and we loved them.
Our family would help her clean house, and my father did many repairs for there. Several aunts, uncles, and grandchildren helped pain the outside of her house (including us), which was a pretty big project since the whole house had wood siding. We stained and varnished some of her furniture, one piece being a round table that crossed the plains with the pioneers (I think probably with John Scott—my grandpa's father). I now own that table.
Some of my best memories were at holiday times, Christmas being my favorite. There was always a real tree, metallic icicles, and bubble lights. When the lights warmed up the tree it smelled so good. Grandpa and grandma loved cherry chocolates, and chocolates from the Bluebird Café. We loved them too! Once my sister fell headfirst into the Christmas tree when she fell off the couch in the night. Somehow Santa always managed to come even though Colleen and I were sleeping in the same room. He was pretty quiet and sneaky. We tried to stay awake and spy on him, but were never successful although we would get so excited that it seemed like we would never fall asleep. I don't remember the presents, but the whole family experience, the decorations, the food, the music, the Nativity story, the Night Before Christmas, and being with those we loved, are the best memories of all.
Memorial Day (which we called Decoration Day) was an important holiday also. We filled baskets and bottles and cans with peonies, Iris, and snowballs to decorate the graves of past loved ones. Our parents would take us around and tell us about each relative who passed away and how we were connected, and would relate some story or other about their lives. That way we were able to gain an appreciation for our ancestors and feel connected to a large family. We picked the flowers in grandma's yard, and afterwards would have a big dinner outside if the weather was good.
Once at Easter time, we went to our grandparents in summery new Easter dresses, with white gloves, white patent leather shoes and socks. When we left Layton it was warm, but when we go to Logan it was snowing. We hadn't brought a coat, so we were freezing! We learned to always take some sort of jacket since it was always colder in Cache Valley.
As my grandma got older, and in poorer health, she would come and stay with us because my mother would take her to the LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City. It gave us a better chance to get acquainted with her. She usually became my bed partner, but I loved it because she would lay there and visit with me after the lights were out and share her testimony and ideas about life. Once when she was sleeping, I accidentally elbowed her in the side of the head. I apologized profusely, but she laughed and said she had a bad headache until then, but it suddenly went away when I hit her. I was relieved. She loved lamb chops and would often cook one up. We would do the dishes together and it was lots of fun doing them with her. She said the job of the one drying dishes, was to take care of whatever the one washing dishes missed.
She had almost perfect faith and was pretty patient in her trials. One time the doctor challenged her about getting well, and got her Irish ire up, and she darn well set out to prove him wrong. This was just the reaction the doctor wanted, since she hadn't been improving up to that point. We took her to many doctor appointments, and visited her many times in the hospital. I would help wash and curl her hair, and made her a bathrobe once.
Grandma didn't give many hugs or say I love you much, but you knew she did by the way she treated you. Her life was simple, but hard at the same time. She had little, but didn't complain. She worked hard for what she did have and appreciated it. She served us, and we in turn tried to serve her. I loved her very much and she made everything seem fun. She never spoiled us with presents, but she did spoil us by giving of her time to us.
Below is a recipe for her carrot pudding, which was always part of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners:
1 cup grated apples
1 cup grated carrots
1 cup grated potatoes
1 cup flour
1 egg, beaten
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup suet
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Sift together dry ingredients, mix rest of ingredients with it (mix well). It will look strange at this point. Fill greased canning jars 1/2 full and put lids and rings on them. Pressure 1 hour-15 minutes or broil in canning kettle with water just below the rim, for 2-3 hours until done. It will turn a rich brown color. 3 times the recipe makes about seven quarts. Dish up and serve warm with lemon or caramel sauce.
1/4 cup caramelized sugar—add 1-1/2 cup hot water—2 tablespoons cornstarch, mixed with a little cold water. Add a heaping tablespoon of butter, a pinch of salt, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Serve warm.
*note: the home in Logan referred to in this recollection no longer exists as it was torn down and replaced with a new house. The grocery store next door still exists, but I’m not certain it’s still operating. You can see the location here:
348 E 200 S