Annie and Kate Grose
Annie Grose was my god-mother just as she was my father's god-mother. Just as the church records show she was god-mother to more than a dozen babies in Charlotte's small Catholic community. She was my grandmother's aunt, my father's great-aunt and that made her my great-grand aunt as well as my god-mother.
She was 68 when I was born and Aunt Annie was always the oldest person I knew. Even so she was ramrod straight. I remember being with her at St. Peter's Church and when others where resting back on their haunches she was knelt straight up on the hard wood pew kneeler for the whole Mass.
Her parents, Elizabeth and Samuel Grose, came to America from England in 1859. He was a mining engineer and the Charlotte goldmining operations and mint brought him to North Carolina.
Annie was born in Charlotte in 1868. She was a milliner and she worked for Ivey's Department Store.
Annie never married. She and her younger,invalid sister Kate lived in their parents' home on downtown Church Street until the late 1940's. One of the massive pylons of the recently built Erickson Stadium is set in their old back yard - - where peach and apple trees bloomed in the spring and a garden yielded fresh vegetables all summer.
Until they left that house they made their delicious bread -which they served to every visitor slathered with their own homemade jelly - in an old wood-burning stove. Though it always tasted just the same to me - they were never satisfied with the bread they made in the new fangled gas oven when they moved to a small house on Beaumont.
The house on Beaumont Street was on my way home from Piedmont Junior High School. Many afternoons I detoured to their front door - for a chat and a snack - perhaps even, if there was time, a mean game of Parchisi. We used their old board with the worn black cups and the big yellowed dice. We pulled out the heavy wood chairs with the upholstered seats and sat at the large black mahagony dining room table -which crowded the smaller dining room - laughing and rolling the dice. The room echoed with our tapping as we counted our moves on the worn board. Aunt Kate always won.
Being with them was lovely and loving time. They were always happy to see me, eager to cut me a slice of the fresh cooked bread and Aunt Kate would say, "And jelly?"
Twenty years ago I found a steroptican in a thrift store and I bought it. My friend said, "why are your buying that?" How could I explain that when I lifted it up and slipped the picture card in the slots so that I could view Niagra Falls, I felt myself back in Aunt Annie's parlor. I remembered their steroptican sitting on the round table in the parlor - when I was very good I could look at their collection of scenic pictures. I could hear the tapping and taste fresh bread and homemade jelly.
Annie and Kate were in their nineties when they died within a month of each other. They are buried on the lot in Elmwood Cemetary with their mother and brothers. I stop by to see them when I can.