The theme for this week’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge is “Close To Home”. All of my great grandparents ended up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so they were all fairly close to the home I grew up in. But, this is about my Grandma Lassalle, Anna (Mazeres) Lassalle, and how she moved from Oakland to a neighborhood not to far from where we lived.
I remember these events so well. In 1971, my Grandma and Grandpa Lassalle celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary. There was a big party held at a hall. I was 6 years old and remember my Mom buying my sister and I matching stars and stripes hot pants sets for the party. It was the early 70s after all! This photo was taken at a much earlier date and is one of the few photos with Grandma smiling. They were such a happy couple. Though, I understand Grandma was quite the match for Grandpa’s sometimes quick temper.
In the two years after that party, Grandpa became very ill. He was the first person I knew who went on oxygen. I remember the last Christmas Eve that he presided over the calling of gift names. My Dad and my Aunt Julie helped him out. He was always short of breath.
I was 9 years old when Grandpa Lassalle died. Jean Lassalle was 84 years old when he passed away in 1973. I didn’t go to the funeral but stayed home with a babysitter. It’s funny the things you remember. Sandy Duncan in Peter Pan was on TV that night and I got to eat dinner from a TV tray while watching TV. My sister’s friend was a pretty laid back babysitter!
I remember the events that followed so well. Grandma Lassalle was 75 years old when Grandpa died. Her children were very worried about her living alone in Oakland by herself. The neighborhood that she was in was slowly going downhill.
It was decided that she would move to San Lorenzo which isn’t far from Oakland. She’d be near her three children and her oldest granddaughter.
I can still remember the house she lived in. It was a small house that ended at a dead end. Though, it wasn’t a court. There was a field at the end of the block.
The house was small, but it was very much grandma’s house. She brought most of the furniture from the old house including a big dining room table and the china cabinet that help her fine china and other precious mementos.
My Grandma was talented seamstress and with needle work. She loved to sew, knit, embroider, and tat. There were doilies on the sofa arms and a huge tablecloth on the dining room table–all things she tatted herself. In this photo, she is wearing a sweater she knitted herself. Oh, don’t be fooled by her grumpy look. She just hated having her picture taken.
The house was much smaller than she was used to. Where she once had a huge dining room and kitchen that were separate by a door from the rest of the house, she now had a small dining area off the living room and a small kitchen off of that. I suspect at 75, she appreciated no longer having to walk up the two sets of front steps and down the back stairs from the back porch. The yard was tiny, but there was enough room for her canary cages.
My Grandma never drove, she walked everywhere or took the bus. Where she lived in Oakland, things were in walking distance. Not so in San Lorenzo. But, she had her children and grandchildren around to help her.
We visited Grandma often or had her over for dinner on holidays and sometimes on Sundays when my mom usually made a big family meal. Grandma no longer had the big family get-togethers she once hosted. Instead, she let others take over those duties.
My family was not religious, so we never went to church. When Grandma came over on a Sunday or a Easter, she would come over in the morning and then want to go to church. By this time, my siblings were in their teens and got out of the obligatory duty of walking Grandma to church. But, I was not. We spoke very little the three blocks to the church and back. It wasn’t that I didn’t like my Grandma. She was a sweet but reserved person. I was shy and a bit intimidated by adults.
In 1977, there was a big party at a restaurant for my grandma’s 80th birthday. I can remember there being many people on hand, though I can’t really tell you who! It was overwhelming.
My Grandma died in 1984 at the age of 86. It was just two months before my oldest brother got married. She was in the hospital for sometime before passing away. I will always remember her saggy nylons, her cackling laugh, and how she was a quiet, but knowing type of soul.
Genealogist and writer. Creator of the Portuguese Hawaiian Genealogy and Heritage website, yourislandroutes.com