This year, 16 students from Lyons Elementary participated in the nationwide Grannie Annie Family Story Writing Celebration. They researched and interviewed their families for stories that happened before they were born, and turned these pieces of oral family history into written stories for others to enjoy. In doing so, they not only preserved family history, but strengthened family bonds and their own writing skills. These stories cover a wide range of themes–tragic, poignant, and humorous. The students committed themselves to this project. Much of their writing and revising was done outside of school on their own time. We hope you enjoy the stories as much as we did.
–Pam Browning, teacher
The Recorder has published several of these stories previously.
Nick’s Desert Night
by Alex Hart, fifth grade
If you didn’t know, horses can be really funny, especially Appaloosas! My dad loved horses and still loves horses, so I thought that he was going to tell another story about Juan Bautista de Anza. But sadly he just asked if any of us needed the bathroom. Only my brother Christopher did. I was thinking about my horse that had a chipped ear and how he got it. So it was minutes until nightfall and my horse Nick was getting hungry and so was I. My family and I were still one week into traveling so I was pretty happy being in the Anza Borrego desert. I was setting up the camp with my dad, but we all needed to sleep. I went a bit far away to make a bed because the sand is coarse and rough. I had to find something that I could use to make a stable for him. Since we were in the desert there were no trees to tie Nick to. I had to make sure that he wouldn’t move but he could sit but could not walk away. I then went back to my dad and then we all fell asleep. It was late at night and Nick was still up trying to get out of the hobbles, so something funny with Nick happened: Nick started HOPPING OVER TO ME AND WOKE ME UP! So I ended up waking up to Nick and his chipped little ear. This story is from my father Andrew Michael Hart.
A Brief Recollection of My Great-Great Grandfather David Hunter Fowler
By Eliano Phillips, fourth grade
David Hunter Fowler, my great great grandpapa, left Glasgow, Scotland, as a young boy on a ship. He moved with his mom, dad, and Charles, his younger brother, to a small town called Portage in Somerset County, Pennsylvania (near where my grandpapa was born). My grandpapa still plants vibrant dahlias in memory of his grandfather’s garden. When my grandfather drinks a bottle of Scottish ale it reminds him of when his grandfather gave him money to buy Scottish ale and feels closer in a way to him. He worked in the coal mines for a good amount of time. Since he worked in the coal mines they bought a house right by the coal mine’s entrance.
My grandpa talked to my great great grandpapa about working in the coal mines. He worked there for so long that it’s surprising that he didn’t get black lung disease. They wanted to promote him to supervisor of the coal company but he wouldn’t because it was against his principles. In other words he did not want to send another man’s money. He left the mines a little after that to move to my grandpa’s home town when my grandpa was about seven or eight. My great great grandpa then worked as a janitor at a VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) then a little after that he retired again. At the end of the street there were a few chairs were my great great grandpa and my great great grandma would sit and watch the cars go by. Then my great great grandmother would say if I had a nickel for every time a car went past there I’d be rich and my great great grandpa would say oh Maggie you always say that. My great great grandma died when she was 80 and my great great grandpa died when he was 85.
Around the World
by Elsie Thomas, fifth grade
Imagine being only 23 years old and going on a trip all the way around the world all by yourself! Well, that’s exactly what my great grandmother, Mabel Benedict, did. Mabel was a very brave and adventurous woman, and she traveled with a deep passion and great confidence.
College was over. All that hard work and time that I put into school all my life was finally going to pay off. I still needed to find a job, but before I started looking, I decided to take some time off and go on a trip around the world. My grandfather, Benjamin Benedict, had just recently died at the age of 74, and I inherited enough money from him to pay for the trip. I had done lots of research and had decided to go on “Clark’s Eighth World Cruise,” a round-trip from New York, around the world, and back. I was very excited to start this journey! The ship would depart on January 16, 1928.
I bought a world map and a journal to record all of the amazing places I would go and all the incredible things I would do. I wanted to remember this forever.
After what seemed like an eternity, it was finally time to board the ship. The large crowds were quite nerve-wracking. There were lots of cool rooms and things to do. While hanging out and meeting new people, I met a young woman who was the same age as me, who was also traveling alone. Her name was Josephine, and we explored, laughed, and chatted together for the rest of the trip.
After four more days of travel, the ship arrived at its first stop: Cuba! It was absolutely gorgeous! After an entire day of exploring, we made our way back to the ship and departed again.
There were many fascinating adventures like this, including Mexico, Hawaii, Japan, the Philippines, and more. The most memorable stops of all were in India and Egypt. In India, we went to the extraordinary Taj Mahal. The building was magnificent, and Josephine and I spent hours admiring it.
In Egypt, we rode camels. They were enormous, and at first I was pretty scared to get on. I had experience riding horses before but had never ridden a creature so giant! But Josephine was very kind and patient, and she encouraged me and assured me that everything would be okay. So I got on the camel. Josephine was right. It was absolutely amazing, and I’m so glad I did it!
Finally, this very long and exciting journey ended on June 4, 1928, five months after departure. I said goodbye to Josephine and to all the others I met on the trip, and we went our separate ways to go on with our lives. I will never forget my incredible trip around the world.
The WWII Hitchhiker
by Jasper Bolster, fifth grade
It was WWII. My great grandpa was a tail gunner on a B-29 bomber. He was stationed in India. He had to fly over the Himalayas to get to China to drop off some bombs and fuel. One day, when he had to go back to India, the normal co-pilot was not there and the substitute co-pilot said to Aully (my grandpa) “Holst, get to your station.” So he did. He slipped into his tail gunner spot and got ready for takeoff. This was not normal because he normally stayed in the belly of the plane with the other guys for takeoff. As the plane was taking off something went terribly wrong.
He woke up in the hospital a couple of days later. He was informed that the plane exploded and the tail had broken off with him in it, and the reason he was alive was that he was in the tail. He broke a bunch of bones and lost all of his teeth. The rest of the crew died. All of the crew were his friends from Minnesota. After his time in the hospital he got honorably discharged. The problem was, no one in the Air Force told him how to get home. So, as he called it, he “hitchhiked home.” What he did was he went onto one plane, onto another ship, another car, onto another airplane, and so on. He went from China to Casablanca hitchhiking all the way through Asia and North Africa, until he got on a hospital ship to New York and from there got on a train to Minnesota. So at some point, he got home to Minnesota and no one knew he was coming. They all thought he was gone! Poof! Zilch! My great grandma was super happy!
Fresca the Escape Artist
by Megan Bader, fifth grade
One day, my uncle Greg decided he wanted a pet. So he went to the county fair in Ithaca, New York. They had chickens and sheep and all kinds of animals, but he didn’t want a chicken or a sheep. He saw the bunnies and decided that’s what he wanted. He had been told that the most active and energetic rabbit was the healthiest, and he saw her immediately. Fresca.
He took her home and had to find a place for her, so he chose the back bedroom. He figured a tiny little baby wouldn’t be able to jump very high. So, he cracked the door open, and put one crate between the door and the door frame. Her cage was on a table inside the room and was unlocked during the day. After a while, she grew and was able to jump over the crate. So one crate turned into two and two turned into three. Eventually, the tower of crates grew to the height of the doorknob. With this new adjustment, it was harder for Fresca to escape, but then she figured out a way. She would run in circles around the room, and when she had enough speed, she would jump over the crates.
Then one night, her cage wasn’t locked properly. She ran and jumped over the barrier. She explored for a little bit, chewed the cables off the TV, gnawed on shoeboxes. Then she went into Greg’s bedroom. She decided he looked warm and so she jumped on his chest. Greg was dreaming that Fresca was on top of him and he awoke with a start. He screamed when he realized his worst nightmare had just come true!
The moral of the story: Get a rabbit if you must, but don’t get a crazy one like my uncle Greg. And if you must get a crazy one, get a lock!
by Reagan Friedman
Have you ever had to move somewhere you’ve never even heard of in the middle of a war? Have you ever had to do this being only a child? Probably not. But my great grandma, Milla Freudman (fur-oid-min) did. This is her story.
Bang! Went the bullets as Milla looked out the window. Hearing the gunshots in World War II was scary for a little girl. At the time it was around 1938. Milla lived with her parents in Vienna, Austria. The war was going on near her small house. Milla’s parents knew she was scared, so they decided to move.
However, moving in World War ll was very difficult. First, they needed to find a safe place to move to. Then they needed to get permission to move. Finally, they needed to get a well paying job and an affordable home.
It was my great uncle William who got permission for Milla and her family to move to Quito, Ecuador. He was friends with the people in the Ecuadorian government, who assured my uncle that his family could find a good home. For these reasons, Milla’s family moved to Ecuador.
However, they had much to learn about the customs of Ecuador. One of the biggest challenges was that they had to learn to speak Spanish. It took years to learn a new language. They had to learn from an instructor who knew both Spanish and German.
Fortunately, the people in Ecuador needed farmers because of all of the new immigrants. They decided to offer free land to anyone who would become a farmer. So Milla’s dad, Henry Freudman, decided to become a farmer. Even though Henry was a lawyer in Austria, he ended up being a very good farmer in Ecuador.
Soon they finished their lessons. They were now fluent in Spanish. They could talk to people in stores, so they could get their groceries. They made many new friends in Ecuador and Milla got a good education. She even had a child! Her child was a beautiful baby named Frieda.
After the war was over, Milla and her family moved to the US, a land full of opportunity. They lived a great life in the US. They were happy to finally be done with all of the frightening chaos.