Scrambled Eggs, Grasshoppers, and Other Memories

I loved visiting Grandma and Grandpa Gates when I was little. They lived in a tiny house about 10 miles west of Madera. It was just ‘down the road a piece’ from the little country store they would own many years later. The photo above is of my brother, Kenny, and me in the garden in front of the shower house.

The shower was in a little building out back, with a slatted floor. I was afraid that there were snakes under the slats, but I loved it anyway. I knew there were lizards, but I was never afraid of lizards. Grandpa told me that snakes were just lizards without legs, but I didn’t believe him.

Grandma always had a beautiful garden, with flowers and vegetables. I would sit on the back porch with her as she shelled peas or pulled the strings off the beans.

One of my favorite memories was of watching Grandma water the driveway with the hose to keep the dust down in the summer.

I remember getting to sleep with Grandpa and his wonderful scratchy face. He would get up early, early in the morning, way before the sun, to work in the fields. There was no door between the bedroom and the kitchen, only a curtain. I would awaken to see the light shining around the edge of the curtain and smell Grandma’s scrambled eggs. I don’t know what made those eggs so special. Was it because they were fresh? I don’t remember if she had chickens or not, but she probably did. And the milk was fresh and everything was fresh and they smelled so good! Or, maybe… it was just the taste and smell of love.

Grandpa told stories. He told about how he went into the fields every morning and made coffee in a can over an open fire. One morning, before the sun came up, he heard a little voice next to his ear. “Good morning, Carl,” said the voice. “That coffee smells mighty good.”

He turned his head, and there, sitting on his shoulder, was a grasshopper.

Her name was Henrietta and she and Grandpa became good friends. She would keep him company all day, and tell him stories so he wouldn’t get bored.

Then Grandpa would come home and tell those stories to us.

You’ll be hearing more about Henrietta in the future.

P.S. This is not the post I prepared for this week, but I have a new printer/scanner that I haven’t completely figured out yet. I can get pictures from the computer to the printer, but I can’t scan pictures into the computer yet. It will take some figuring out. And the picture was too important to leave off.

Soooo… I just used another one that I had a picture for.


  1. Barbra says:

    My best childhood memories are of Grandma and Grandpa Gates. They were the best grandparents any kid could ask for. The store, the flowers, the stories, the parachute! All the love. I am so happy I had these two as a role model for how grandparents should be.

    1. Barbra, I couldn’t agree more. I had so much fun hanging out at Gates Grocery. Do you remember John, the old man who lived in the little trailer? And I used to sit on the butane tank, pretending I was riding a horse. And you lived in the big house next to the canal for a while.

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