Perhaps the most influential person of my life was my paternal grandmother, Hortense Weston Lucas.  Everything about her channeled goodness, fairness, and a conservative morality that was very much a reflection of her generation.

She was born in Salinas, California, to a father who worked the railroad that wound it's way through the northern California green.  Her father met her mother, Ruth, who was a student at Mills College, at a dance.

Hortense was born in 1909.

I am grateful for the years that I had to know her.  I am picturing her now, in my mind.  She always wore her hair in a Gibson bun.  I didn't even know what that meant until I looked it up one day.  The Gibson Girl look was very much a thing to fashionable ladies of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

In the early mornings, I would watch my grandmother brush her hair, it went all the way down to her hips.  After brushing her hair, she would carefully mold it into the Gibson bun, pinning it into place with real tortoise shell pins she'd inherited from her own mother.

While at home, she always wore an apron.  She had three.  Each of them had a slightly different floral print with yellow, blue, or purple background.  During the day, she had clothing she would wear while at home and other clothing she would wear if she went out.  Sometimes, she wore gloves.  She always wore gloves when she drove.  Many people wore driving gloves in those days.

Thinking back on the years I knew her, she managed to meld that Gibson look with the polyester pant suit set of the 1970s, a look she wore well into the 1980s.  

Mostly, when I think about her, I recall her kindness and her warmth.  No matter what was happening, she always had a calm demeanor.  As I close for the morning, I am remembering her smile.  She had the most lovely smile.

Today I'm going to work on my smile.


  1. What a beautiful tribute to your grandmother! It could even be an "ode." One of my most influential people was my maternal grandmother, both in 1910. As I started using her sewing machine (which I inherited - a 1969 Sears Kenmore - top of the line for the time) during the pandemic, I began thinking about her more and more. Perhaps, I'll have to write a post about her as you have about yours. Thanks for the idea! Carol from The Apples in My Orchard.

  2. I love the name Hortense. Please tell me if you ever write a novel (which after following your slices this month, you definitely could!) you will name one of the characters Hortense. You remember her bun, her apron, her gloves, and most importantly her smile. She sounds like a lovely woman.


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