I know I’ve talked a lot about Nannie and Gankie, my mother’s parents. Papa had parents, too, but Papa’s father was dead by the time I was born. His mother rode the train across the country to attend Mama and Papa’s wedding in Texarkana, and she regularly came to see us wherever we were living until her Parkinson’s disease became too much.
Papa’s father was born in Illinois, near Peoria, after his father was dead. His father was born in Germany and immigrated to this country as a young man. His name was Francis Xavier Griesser. At some point before he married my grandmother, he changed his name from Griesser to Greisser. He was one of six brothers and as nearly as we can tell any Greisser or Griesser in this country is related to us.
Papa’s father was Victor H. Greisser, and his mother was born Bessie Hutchinson. My cousin Susan named her Gaga, and we kept that name for her. Gaga immigrated from England with her family when she was about 2 years old. Her father was a Methodist minister and they lived near Peoria, Illinois through the 1880s. I always (think of her family as being like Little House on the Prairie after they moved to town.
Shortly after Grandfather Griesser and Gaga married they moved West. Grandfather Gerisser got a job with a mining firm and they lived in Boise, Idaho, where two of their three boys were born. Shortly before my father was born they moved to Spokane, Washington. Grandfather was a civil engineer and worked on some of the dams and locks on the Columbia River. There is a particular type of lock mechanism that he invented and is named after him.
Grandfather Griesser had heart trouble in the late 1920s and moved Gaga to Palo Alto, California where he died in 1933.
One of Papa’s older brothers lived in Menlo Park, the next town over from Palo Alto. He had a daughter who was six years older than I was. When we visited Gaga, we often stayed with Uncle Vic, Aunt Franche and Susan.
Papa’s oldest brother lived in Portland, where he was an engineer for Portland Power and Light working on the dams on the Columbia River. Aunt Ester outlived him by many years. They had one Son, Art, Jr;, who was 10 years older than I was. After we moved to Tacoma, we reconnected with Aunt Ester, Art, Jr, and his wife, and one of his children. We visited them in Portland a couple of times, but unfortunately we’re not close.
We lived near enough to Gaga to visit monthly the two times I lived in California. She also came to visit us when we lived in Houston. She was a comfortable grandmother who required little to nothing of me. I wish I had known her better because she and Grandfather led an interesting life in the frontier of Washington and Idaho.
Gaga was afflicted with Parkinson’s disease in her later years, and died in 1967 at the age of 99.