Grandma Hazel: A Sense Memory

My grandma Hazel smelled like Cashmere Bouquet Soap. I know, because her hugs embraced my six-year-old self in a full-body envelope. Walking into her house on Factory Street in Marion Center, I always smelled cookies. I always hoped she had been making Sour Milk Jumbles, my favorite. The entryway greeted me with a loping wooden stairway to my right and pocket doors to my left. Beyond the pocket doors sat the 1892 upright piano. Grandma could play like an angel. I imagine her playing it still. She passed in the winter of 1977.

I am writing a long essay about Hazel (Shorts) Work: her influence as a grandmother; her life as a mother of 7; her work as a social worker in post-depression rural Pennsylvania; and as a resilient wife of an alcoholic. I’m hoping to publish it, so unfortunately I can’t share it here, because even blogs can be considered “published.” So I hope you’ve enjoyed these snippets, and the photo below.

In one of the last photos of my grandma, which I discovered yesterday in looking for photos of my dad, I was surprised to find myself in my first photo-bombing episode. There I am, peeking through the arms of uncles. I was disappointed at first, that I *ruined* this photo of Hazel and a few of her children, then I realized this might be the only photo I have of me with my grandma Hazel.

L-R: Grandma Hazel, Aunt Jane, Uncles John and Pat. I am photobombing between John and Pat. My younger cousin Ian is on the far right.

My friend Lauren has a new blog, called the Pittsburgh Cookie Table. Recently she featured my grandma’s No-Bake Cookies recipe. I hope you’ll take a moment to visit her blog and if you have 15 minutes, make them for yourself, enjoying the legacy of a warm and resilient woman.

Love, Marla

11 thoughts on “Grandma Hazel: A Sense Memory

  1. Finally got back to reading your older posts and the picture of the “Work kids” as my mom refers to them instantly made me feel like I was back in MC in the 70’s – the clothes, the hair, the houses….

    1. Oh Mona, thanks so much for your comment. it made me smile. Do you think there are any photos running around in your family of the Works?

    1. Of course, Lauren! I’m so glad we could give to each other in this way. I look forward to reading more cookie posts! Nom.nom.nom.nom. My tum’s rumbling already!

  2. OMG…thatvis the ‘My green sheen’ year…grammas last Christmas with us. I never realized how young those three were when she died! Cant wait to read the longer story

  3. Thanks Marla:) I remember the smell of pie and turkey, her warm smile and many hugs:) Also, everyone around the piano singing as she played. When in Florida with my mom, visiting your mom, they both shared with me one of their favorite recipes from Grandma. You probably already have it, but here it is if not. Thanks for sharing the no-bakes cookie recipe:)

    3 eggs, 2 cups of milk (2%) (scald milk), 1/2 cup of sugar, 2 tsp. of vanilla, pinch of lemon juice
    Sprinkle nutmeg on top after you whip the above ingredients.
    (Put custard in pan of water while cooking.)
    Cook on 350 until knife comes out clean in the middle.

  4. I always forget how young you were when grandma died. I always assume we share all the same level of memories. You two would have gotten along famously!! She was the quintessential “old-fashioned grandmother” I always wished she were around to meet my children.

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