Olga Linnea Peterson
My grandmother and me circa 1960.
I remember her hands. She had the softest, most "healing" hands that I have ever felt. She was a "saint" of a woman. Her love was all encompassing and as unconditional as I have ever known. Olga's family was her life and she was truly a wonderful lady--she made sure that I grew up knowing that "I could do anything that I set my mind to" and I feel that she is in big part responsible for my success in business and in life! I can only hope to be as wonderful of a grandmother as she was.
Olga Linnea was born November 27, 1899..."right before the turn of the new century," she used to tell me. Her life was not an easy one. Olga's mother died when she was only a teen, leaving her to care for her younger brother and sister. Her parents were Alfred and Tekla Johnson Peterson, both immigrants from Sweden.
Olga was named for the Swedish botanist, Carl Von Linne. She was very proud of her Swedish heritage. She longed to know her family in Sweden and she would have been thrilled to know that I have found her roots on all sides of her ancestry and even visited where many of them were born in Sweden.
Gramma was not a very big woman, she was only about 5'2" tall...but in (what she called "her prime") she weighed almost 185 pounds. Gramma wouldn't fit in too well in today's society as she felt woman who were thin were not healthy or weathly!!
This is a picture of Gramma in "her prime.">>>>>>>>>>>>
When her mother died she was about 17 years old. Her father was a fairly successful business man and Olga grew up eating in fancy restaurants, wearing nice clothes and learning all the social skills of the era. She was very refined...I remember that she liked to have "finger bowls" at each place setting during traditional family meals such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. She was determined to have excellent manners even during the hardest of times. She helped teach me to be a "proper little lady."
Olga worked at a restaurant in St. Louis in the mid-20's and spent some time as a "flapper" there. She taught all her grandchildren the Charleston. She loved to dance and sing.
She was the best cook!! Her specialties were Chicken and Dumplings, Turkey and dressing and home made bread!! Now, you know why she weighed 185 in "her prime!"
In 1927, she met Charles Donald Crawford (he was working for her father at the time in the family business). She fell in love with him and they married on January 28, 1928 in Clayton, St. Louis County, Missouri. Olga and Charles had the following children:
Alfred Benjamin Crawford born July 28, 1928
Dorothea Ethel Crawford born August 10, 1929
Alice Ruth Crawford born November 22, 1930
Olga saw many "lean" times, raising a family during the depression in St. Louis, Missouri. Unlike the farmers in rural areas of the country, city people did not have the abundance of fresh meat and vegetables. Gramma once told me that during the depression her and a neighbor would grease their pans for supper with one piece of fatback!
Around 1947, the family left St. Louis for the country and ended up in a small area outside of Bourbon, Crawford Co., Missouri known as Argo. They lived in a "chicken house" for a short while. Olga made this "home" to her family, keeping the surroundings clean and comfortable. They moved into town about a year later and none of them would ever forget their time in the "chicken house." None of them were ashamed of where they had come from...I think it made them all stronger!!
<<This picture was taken in 1975. Gramma was 75 years old.
Gramma's main interest in life was her children and grandchildren. She loved to cook for all of us and lived to the ripe old age of 79. I still miss her horribly and sometimes I can hear her voice singing to me or even smell her...which I would describe as "fresh baked bread and talcum powder." I think she contributed greatly to my character as a mother. Many times, when my own children have been disobedient...(I stop and think) "how would gramma have handled this situation?" And I know I am much more patient and understanding because of this pause.
Olga Linnea Peterson Crawford died on July 6, 1979 and the world hasn't been quite the same for me since that day. But, as long as I remember her...she never really went away!!