July 13, 2013 by genelup
MILWAUKEE, Wis. (Feb. 14, 1963) — Although Grandma Black’s birthday was about six weeks away, the neighborhood children wanted to make it the best birthday ever.
Grandma Black would be 100 years old March 30. As in the past, the girls of Wauwatosa Brownie troop 286 would throw the party: A cake, a few presents, a lot of hugs. The girls had already adopted Mrs. John W. Black, of 2163 N. 62nd St., Wauwatosa, as an honorary member.
Then, after the cake had been cut and everyone had eaten her share, maybe Grandma Black would start telling stories. The girls would gather around.
Back in 1883, Grandma Black, then 20, had gone on eight state trips in a covered wagon. She had just been graduated from college in Platteville, Wis., and her father decided an appropriate gift would be to take her and her sister on a trip. They went through Iowa, Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South and North Dakota, and they stopped to visit relatives in western Minnesota. Grandma Black, who was then Alice May Elwell, decided to stay and teach in a college.
She taught in Minnesota for 35 years and, in 1925, came to Milwaukee to live with her daughter, Mrs. Fern Hawkins. Her husband died three years later.
By now the girls would probably be thinking of all the wonderful things Grandma Black has done for them. She was always knitting sweaters and socks for the neighborhood children. But not too much lately. Her eyes were fading, and her hands were a little slower working with knitting needles.
But she never turned down a chance to baby sit. Sometimes the neighborhood children would come to her home. But they especially enjoyed the times when Grandma Black came to visit them. Then they could show her their own rooms with pictures they had drawn, taped to the walls, or the toys they had received for Christmas.
They knew each one of them were in Grandma Black’s prayers. Every morning she would read a bit from her Bible, fold her hands a say a few words for her adopted “children.”
All these memories came last year on Grandma Black’s 99th birthday.
The children won’t be able to have a party on her 100th birthday. Grandma Black died Sunday.