I have a few photographs of my Grandma Lassalle as a young woman. It is difficult for me to reconcile the fashionable young woman in those early 1900 photographs with the old woman I knew as my Grandma. As I remember her, she was VERY old. (She was barely 70 in my earliest recollections!) She was a small woman who wore her gray hair in a bun. She wore dresses with baggy nylons and sensible shoes. Although she dressed more modern after her husband died in 1973, she was still the same old fashioned lady.
My Grandma was a quiet person. I always remember her sitting off to the side at some family function, slightly clueless to the conversations going on around her. She seemed to be the type of elderly person people were always explaining things to. She was good-natured and kind. I cannot recall my Grandma ever saying a bad word against anyone.
The woman I remember as Grandma bares only a slight resemblance to the person she really was. Though my memories are true, they are only a small part of her story.
My Grandma, Anna Mazeres, was born in San Francisco in 1897 to French immigrants. Though her parents had 3 children, Anna was the only one to survive to adulthood. Anna’s father was a successful businessman who ran laundries. The family did quite well for itself.
At the age of 23, Anna married Jean Lassalle, also a French immigrant. In 1922, Anna gave birth to their first child. They would end up having six children (four boys and two girls). They raised their family in a beautiful house in Oakland. Anna and Jean would end up spending 52 years together–many of those years in that same house.
Anna knew many hardships in her long life. Her younger siblings died before she was ten. One of her daughters lived away from the family for awhile due to illness. When her mother became ill, she took care of her. She lost her oldest son during WWII when his ship was torpedoed–they found out at Thanksgiving that year. She ended up taking care of her husband who was very sickly in his later years. There were many ups and downs to her life–many that a granddaughter will never know. Yet, this quiet, stoic woman endured. Her quietness covered a hidden strength that more boisterous people have not matched.
I have such warm memories of my Grandma. She was the woman who would take my ratty haired dolls and returned them with shiny, smooth hair. She tatted, sewed, and embroidered, creating such beautiful things! She sewed pajamas for the grandkids for Christmas presents. And, every Christmas Eve, she would frantically search the house for that one lost pair. Her house was filled with mementos from those same grandkids. I think she saved every one of them!
My Grandma’s life spanned 86 years. In those decades, she saw so many changes in the world. The world she left in 1984 was a far cry from the one she entered in 1897! She persevered by going with the flow. This was the source of her strength. And, I will always remember her fondly.
Genealogist and writer. Creator of the Portuguese Hawaiian Genealogy and Heritage website, yourislandroutes.com