Grandparents and spinster ladies / Abuelos y damas solteronas

La versión en español está después de la versión en inglés.

In a recent blog post, Debra She Who Seeks pointed out that many scholars miss — or pointedly avoid — the truth about historic and often well-documented same-sex relationships. Her post reminded me of a day spent with San Geraldo’s amazing grandparents. It was 1984; his grandfather would soon turn 83 and his grandmother, 80. They treated me like one of their own. They were role models for us in terms of a loving relationship and eternal friendship.

Both his grandparents came from farming families and, although they had left that life behind, every time we visited South Dakota there were conversations about how high the corn was and whether it was too late or too early in the season. “Yep, we sure do need some rain.” “Yep, we sure could use some sunshine to dry up those fields.” This particular visit, we took his grandparents for a drive in their big sedan to see all the old family farms about 17 miles outside Sioux Falls. None remained in the family all these years later, but the drive was beautiful and the stories were magical.

We began with SG’s paternal great-great-grandfather’s home farm (that’s him sitting out front in the photo above). As we passed each farm, all properties initially owned by great-great-grandpa before going to later generations, we heard some old and some new stories. Moments later, there was an unexpected downpour that lasted a matter of minutes. After it passed, an enormous double rainbow appeared (the first double rainbow I had ever seen) ending at the original farm.

And here is where I return to the topic of Debra’s blog post. After this enchanting day, we passed a large farm house. Grandpa had a deep baritone voice and he always spoke slowly and precisely. He said:

“You see that house over there? Well, two spinster ladies owned that farm. And they ran it better than any man could.”

SG and I stole a glance at each other. Grandpa continued:

“But it was the darnedest thing. They built the house so there was not one window visible from the road.”


En una entrada de blog reciente, Debra She Who Seeks señaló que muchos académicos pasan por alto — o evitan deliberadamente — la verdad sobre las relaciones históricas y a menudo bien documentadas entre personas del mismo sexo. Su post me recordó un día que pasé con los increíbles abuelos de San Geraldo. Fue en 1984; su abuelo pronto cumpliría 83 y su abuela, 80. Me trataban como uno de los suyos. Fueron modelos a seguir para nosotros en términos de una relación amorosa y amistad eterna.

Sus dos abuelos provenían de familias campesinas y, aunque habían dejado atrás esa vida, cada vez que visitábamos Dakota del Sur había conversaciones sobre qué tan alto estaba el maíz y si era demasiado tarde o demasiado temprano en la temporada. “Sí, seguro que necesitamos un poco de lluvia”. “Sí, seguro que nos vendría bien un poco de sol para secar esos campos empapados”. En esta visita en particular, llevamos a sus abuelos a dar un paseo en su gran sedán para ver todas las antiguas granjas familiares a unas 17 millas de la ciudad. Ninguno permaneció en la familia todos estos años después, pero el viaje fue hermoso y las historias mágicas.

Comenzamos con la granja del tatarabuelo paterno de SG (es él sentado al frente en la foto de arriba). A medida que pasamos por cada granja, todas las propiedades inicialmente propiedad del tatarabuelo antes de pasar a las generaciones posteriores, escuchamos algunas historias antiguas y nuevas. Momentos después, cayó un aguacero inesperado que duró unos minutos. Después de que pasó, apareció un enorme arco iris doble (el primer arco iris doble que había visto) que terminaba en la granja original.

Y aquí es donde vuelvo al tema de la entrada del blog de Debra. Después de este día encantador, pasamos por una gran casa de campo. El abuelo tenía una voz profunda de barítono y siempre hablaba despacio y con precisión. Él dijo:

“¿Ves esa casa de allá? Dos señoras solteronas eran dueñas de esa granja. Y digieran mejor que cualquier hombre podría.”

SG y yo nos miramos el uno al otro. El abuelo continuó:

“Pero fue la cosa más excepcional. Construyeron la casa para que no hubiera una sola ventana visible desde del camino”.

• Grandpa around 1910.

• Abuelo alrededor 1910.

• Grandma and Grandpa a few months before I met them in 1981. Two more people who changed my life.

• Los abuelos unos meses antes de conocerlos en 1981. Dos personas más que cambiaron mi vida.

Author: Moving with Mitchell

From Brooklyn, New York; to North Massapequa; back to Brooklyn; Brockport, New York; back to Brooklyn... To Boston, Massachusetts, where I met Jerry... To Marina del Rey, California; Washington, DC; New Haven and Guilford, Connecticut; San Diego, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Irvine, California; Sevilla, Spain. And Fuengirola, Málaga..

18 thoughts on “Grandparents and spinster ladies / Abuelos y damas solteronas”

  1. Love this whole post! Grandpa’s comment about the “spinster ladies” reminds me of that line from Johnny Guitar, used to describe Joan Crawford’s character “Vienna”: “Never seen a woman who was more of a man. She thinks like one, acts like one, and sometimes makes me feel like I’m not.” Jx

  2. Wonderful history. How things have changed, today we have windows on the street side.

  3. Your post reminds me of the farms in Western Minnesota (not all that far from Sioux Falls) that belonged to my ex’s family. His grandfather still lived on his farm when I first met him in the early 1970s–his wife had only died a few years earlier. A good Minnesota Democratic Farm Labor party member, he loved talking politics with me (an East Coast Democrat). The one thing I remember about being out in farm country is that directions to anywhere involved knowing who owned what farm…as they would say, “Go out Rt 6 to the Johansson’s, turn right and drive a couple of miles until you reach the Nielsen’s…” Or directions might also include landmarks such as a certain crop of trees, a red barn, or the Halvorsen’s old plow, etc.. Some fond memories.

    As for the windows, I remember the Lutheran pastor in town at the time (who had recently come from the city and knowing I had, too) telling me he always put his blinds up before going to bed so he could sleep later in the morning. This seemed strange until he added that if he didn’t, too many people would remark on how late he slept in the mornings (i.e. lazy, aren’t you?) if his blinds were still down. Some small town folks were just a bit too interested in other’s business. The gossip was relentless. Not surprising the ladies had no windows on the front.

    1. Mary:
      SG’s mother went to visit a friend with another friend one day. They always turned right at the yellow farmhouse. Except someone went and painted the farmhouse blue. They drove an extra 1-1/2 hours before they realized. I LOVE that pastor story!

  4. What a beautiful story! They look to be wonderful people. You have been blessed to have them in your lives.

  5. What a great post and I love the photos. Spinster ladies, confirmed bachelors… such muted references. Times have changed, thank goodness. (though so many attitudes in our society still warrant improvement)

    1. Kelly:
      I always wondered if a lightbulb went on for SG’s grandfather after telling the two of us that story.

  6. Funniest thing! Don’t we all have family stories about the “good friends” or “companions” who lived together for decades? In a way the ambiguity was nice. But I do like being married.

    1. Steve:
      At least they’re treated with respect when described that way, but such a shame to have lived as a euphemism.

  7. I remember the term “confirmed bachelor.” That was code for something (may I borrow Debra’s winks?), I’m sure.

    1. Walt the Fourth:
      Oh, yes, I remember confirmed bachelors. (‘Enry ‘Iggins claimed to be one.)

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