I received a phone call yesterday. It was my sister Ruth. She'd been going through some papers which prompted a question. Did our parents know their grandparents? Did they have the opportunity to sit on their elders' naps and talk and play? Perhaps this was also prompted by her first grandchild who is less than a year old and who lives a long way away.
Dad was born in 1917 and his grandfather Ernest Saxowsky died in January of 1918. No, Dad didn't know this grandfather. However, Ernest's wife, Louise, lived until 1941 just a couple years before Dad married. Louise lived in Hebron so there were plenty of opportunities for Dad and his grandmother to get to know each other.
Dad's mother's parents, the Birkmaiers, lived into the 30's and 40's. Christoph died in 1935 and Margaretha in 1942. They too had moved from the homestead south of Hebron into Hebron during their latter years and so Dad had plenty of opportunity to know them. Both his parental and maternal grandparents regularly attended the same church that he did, so there were plenty of opportunities to see them regularly. If customs of sharing the noon meal after church which I observed as a child was a part of their practice during Dad's childhood, they probably often shared meals at either Grandma Louise's house, Grandpa and Grandma Birkmaier's house or on the farm where Dad grew up.
On Mom's side the story is quite different. First, Mom's grandparents lived on or near their homesteads in southeastern South Dakota and secondly her mother's father died even before Mom's mother, Regina, was married. Adam Weisz died in 1907 and his wife Margaretha died in 1916, four years before Erna was born in 1920.
Mom's parental grandparents, the Zieglers, did live into her teens. Wilhelm died in 1934 and Barbara in 1935. However, they did live in southeastern South Dakota so visiting them was not a frequent event. I suspect there was some connection and familiarity between Mom and her parental grandparents.
Ruth also mentioned that she thought that she remembered someone saying that each of our four grandparents were the first in each of their families to be born in America. Unfortunately that is not true but what was probably intended to be said was that in all four cases our grandparents are first generation America, all born in America whereas all their parents were not born in America. In all cases some siblings were born in America and some were born before their parents immigrated to America.
This bets the question did we know our grandparents or any of our great-grandparents. The answer is simple: all of our grandparents were alive during our childhood although David was only two years old when grandpa Ziegler died; and all the great-grandparents had died before any of us were born.