Grandma Karrie was born in Kansas on July 28, 1917, right in the midst of WW1. Her family was originally from Germany and at some point her father had done something iffy and they moved to the Volga region of Russia, now commonly known as Sochi, where the Winter Olympics were held in 2014.
Eventually her family made it to the United States and settled east of Greeley by way of Kansas. When Grandma was young her mother died leaving her father with 8 kids. So what did he do? He went and married a woman with 8 kids of her own. Of those 16 children, Grandma is the only one left. I remember her telling stories about the family having to prepare meals twice each day because they didn't have enough pots, pans and dishes to feed everyone at once.
Grandma met her husband Jake and they got married and had 3 children of their own. Betty, Jerry and Tommy. They lived out on a farm and my dad used to tell stories about gathering the eggs and Uncle Jerry locking him in the hen house. He also told stories about the mean turkey that would chase him around.
Some of the stories I remember him telling were about how much fun Grandma and Grandpa Jake used to have with their friends. Grandma would laugh so hard telling stories from the past that tears would be rolling down her cheeks.
Mostly the stories I remember are about how tough Grandma was. Growing up with 15 siblings isn't easy and there were always chores and work to be done. Even when she was married the hard work didn't end. She'd go out and kill a chicken for lunch to feed the workers on the farm. During WW2 there were German prisoners of war held near Greeley. Those POWs would work the nearby farms and people like my Grandma and her neighbors would cook enormous amounts of food to keep them fed. Many of those POWs stayed around after the war and married some of the young women they met working on those farms.
When Grandpa Jake got sick they sold the farm and moved to town where Grandma nursed her husband until his death.
I don't know a lot about what happened after that but at some point she met Hank, who we called Poppie. Grandma worked retail at the downtown Fashion Bar and then later at the Weld County Health Department.
Grandma and Poppie lived in various houses around Greeley but the one I remember most was south of Toddy's. It had an apple tree and grandma was always making pies and apple sauce and apple butter with the apples from the tree. Pretty much most Sundays we would end up at Grandma and Poppie's house for pie (she made peach too!). Other times she would let us know that on Sunday she would be making "blina" which were these really thick, yeasty pancakes and were delicious. It was a revolving door on Sunday mornings, Aunt Betty would be there with Renae and Amy, we would show up and my other cousins Tanya, Jeff and Jimmy would sometimes come over as well.
Grandma was the best cook. She hosted many Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners and she and Aunt Betty and my dad would fight over the liver and other organs from the turkey--yuck.
We lost Aunt Betty and we lost Poppie. Grandma moved to her current home and has lived there ever since.
One hundred years is a long life. There have been 18 presidents since she was born. She lived through two world wars, the Korean War, Vietnam and the Gulf War. Women weren't allowed to vote when she was born. Civil rights happened. We had a black president. Gay and lesbian people can get married. Can you imagine?
The biggest thing is that technology has passed my Grandma by. She never had a cell phone or a tablet or a computer. She didn't have a DVR. She didn't need those things, she lived an entire lifetime without needing them. If she needed a recipe it was in the recipe box. If she wanted to talk to someone she used the phone on the wall. If she needed something at the store she drove there and bought it.
My grandma outlived two husbands and two of her three children. She didn't always have an easy life but she has 7 grandchildren, 11 great grandchildren and one great great granddaughter who have brought her a lot of joy. On Sunday we will all gather to celebrate 100 years of Caroline (Heberlein) Shearer and I hope it is the best day of her very long life. Love you, Grandma!
PS: She won't read this, remember, she doesn't have technology!