Helen Rosamond Towns Johnson


My grandmother Rosamond died peacefully on May 2, 2006. Her obituary, as printed here in the Victoria Advocate, describes the public aspects of her life. At the funeral, my cousin Cathy shared what she called a slideshow of memories — the sorts of things obituaries don’t say.

So many memories were made in the little white-and-green house at 1208 Lawndale — the house where my dad and my aunt Janie grew up. It was a constant in the family’s life. Janie and her family moved around a lot because her husband Richard was in the Army. My sister and I moved twice while we lived in Victoria, and then moved to New York when I was 10. So it may seem like a lot of the Grandmom memories are about the house — but that’s because she made the house a home.


Everyone remembers how she used to sit in a little wicker chair on the breezeway, peering out the shutters at the goings-on in the neighborhood — especially when she was waiting for a visit from one of us. When we’d pull into the driveway, she’d open the front door with a big smile and open arms. (Even the one she broke twice and couldn’t bend at the elbow!)

Here are a few more slides we shared:

Wooden clogs from Holland sitting under the dining room table.
The needlepoint of birds above the wicker couch.
Woo’s hot cakes, smothered in Karo.
The itchy grass in the back yard.
The swingset.
The neighbor’s pool, with its blue slide peeking just above the wooden fence.
The gas heater in the bathroom, with its blue flame flickering in the winter.
Climbing around in the hallway cabinets.
The smell of Ben Gay after Woo played golf.
Janie’s portrait.
The brown “exercise machine” in the front bedroom.
Leaving notes in the yearbooks for other cousins to find.
Exploring in the attic.
Her Sunday-after-church pot roast.
Using the dishwasher as a pantry, especially as storage for chips and cookies.
All the cards and letters.
How she used to write down every meal she ate during a trip.
Sitting at her vanity, playing dress-up with fire engine-red lipstick.
Playing “train” in her big four-poster bed.
How she used tickle our backs and tell us bedtime stories about her life as a young woman.
Playing solitaire.
Her cigarettes.
The little yellow clock in the kitchen that you could see from her blue chair in the bedroom.
Sitting on those blue chairs behind the portrait of Woo, staying up late and watching Johnny Carson.
The phone nook where we wroter her messages on the blackboard.
Playing the organ, especially the Luau song, where you got to use the half-step pedal with your right foot.
The green glasses in the cabinets.
Her sewing machine.

I’m sure more will come, but I wanted to get the list started. If you knew her, please share a memory here, but everyone is welcome to make comments.

00:52:00 on 05/02/06 by liz - Category: General


lbabs wrote:

What an amazingly touching tribute these additions to sour cherry are to your grandmother and family. The house stories remind me so much of my time growing up in my mom's mom's house in Jersey. (We'd play double solitaire and try to catch each other at cheating)....Your lucky to have such memories Lizzie.

05/10/06 12:59:00

MaryS wrote:

Really very touching-- and as hard as I'm sure as it is right now, it's gotta be so great to have so many, many good memories- the one about writing down every meal when she was on a trip made me laugh!! Thanks for sharing all this-- looks like this cute little house and all that went on there was something pretty special.

05/10/06 17:16:00

Gayle wrote:

What a beautiful tribute to your Grandmom. And I love the list of memories - particularly the hotcakes in Karo syrup! My grandmother ate the same thing! I keep a bottle of Karo in my pantry as a tribute.
How wonderful to have had such a loving and giving person in your life. You are all very blessed.

05/10/06 17:20:43

sof wrote:

my condolensces, liz. it's funny the things you remember.
Zoi se sas
Ζο&ipsilon; σε σασ

05/14/06 18:42:30

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