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My Great-Grandmother Was a Hippy

November 13, 2011

My Grandmother was almost called Peace.

The house in which my Grandmother was born. The house was built in 1916 or 1917.

The matriarch of my family, my Grandmother came into this world on Nov. 11, 1918, in a small farmhouse in the tiny community of Juniper Flat, Oregon, just outside Maupin, Oregon. My Great-Grandmother, who already had one daughter, went into labor while the doctor was already making his rounds. Because he was at someone else’s house, a
Great-Grandmother (The doctor’s? my Great-Grandfather’s? This wasn’t clear) was brought over to help deliver the baby because she had experience as a midwife.

When the little baby girl finally made her way into the world, the midwife asked my Great-Grandmother what she planned to call the tiny girl.

My Great-Grandmother said, “Peace.”

My Grandmother and her sister, Thelma, in 1928. My grandmother would have been about 10 years old.

I was more than a little surprised by this revelation. It was a far too early for hippies to be in America, but my Great-Grandmother seemed to be channeling their spirits with her decision. Of course, if I were to guess, the reason my Great-Grandmother wanted to call her second daughter Peace was that she entered the world on the 11th day of the 11 month of 1918 — the day the Armistice was signed, signalling the end of World War I (do children even learn about these things anymore?). It had to be a momentous occasion, and I’m sure my Great-Grandmother wanted to commemorate it.

The midwife, however, shook her head and said, “You ought not do that.” She suggested instead to name the little girl something that would go with the name of the oldest child. So, she was named “Alma” to match “Thelma” (also known to the family as “Auntie Sis”).

My Grandmother shared this story with me for the first time on her 93rd birthday, which was on 11-11-11. When I asked her if she would have preferred the name “Peace,” she chuckled and shook her head.

That’s not entirely surprising. My Grandmother is far from a hippy … in fact, the closest I can remember any of my family coming to a hippy-esque lifestyle is a vague memory of my Aunt Joanie — my Grandmother’s youngest — in bell-bottom jeans.

The things you learn about your family …

My Grandmother today.

  1. I really enjoyed that, Thanks…

  2. amber permalink

    Just now had a chance to read this….brought a tear to my eye.

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