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Ida Horton

A grandson's perspective

My grandmother, Ida Hazlet Horton, was a remarkable woman on several counts. I came to know my grandparents well during my time in Dallas - primarily while I was in college and graduate school. They were both conscientious, attentive, and loving - salt of the earth people.

Grandmother (that's what I called her) was a prototypical mid-20th-century housewife, but also a craftsperson and a - what? - an elocutionist, I suppose. First, the crafts. She seemed always to have projects going - traditional sewing, of course, plus sachet balls, christmas stockings, her marvelous decorated (fabric & baubles over styrofoam) balls and eggs, and even, at the end of her life, her Christmas card placemats. I remember a visit to her when she was 100 years old, and she dropped down onto her hands and knees, pulled a box out from under the bed, and placed it on top of the bed to show me the placemats she was working on.

Young Ida and her sisters were evidently quite an attraction in rural Iowa in the first and second decades of the 20th century, before TV and radio, as they performed regularly at pageants and other events. Yes, they sang, but those were also the days of staged readings and short performances, and, from what I've heard, Ida was right in the middle of it. When she finished public school, she taught - as I understand it - elocution, and she practiced it all of her life. She knew more poetry and other short reading by heart than I probably ever read, and she was quick to recall and recite passages throughout her life.

In the family, her most celebrated reading was "Esau Wood" which she recited faithfully at her 100th birthday party, and which my niece, Molly, recited to accolades at my mother's 80th birthday party. (I'll add it as a separate story.) She could also be extemporaneous. When she was in her 90's, she played a game of "Encore", which requires the participants to recall the words to songs. It was only after the game that she admitted that she was making up some of the songs which we presumed had come from her youth.

Yes, I realize that, as a mother, she had a stern and scornful streak, but as a grandmother (and as Ida Momma to her great-grandchildren), she was a blast.

- Robin Richmond, Sept 2013

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