Wisdom Wednesday: Happy 100th Birthday, Gramma Rosie

“You have to eat a peck of dirt before you die.”

Today would have been my Great-Gramma Rosie’s 100th birthday. She was a loving and wonderful grandmother, but I never knew her to be one to restrain herself from speaking her mind. This old saying is mild compared with some of her gems.

you have to eat a peck of dirt before you die 

So what does it mean exactly? According to The Free Dictionary, “You have to eat a peck of dirt before you die” just means that life deals us each a share of woe. I recently learned that a peck is the equivalent of 8 quarts. That’s a lot of dirt to eat, but spread out over a lifetime? Eh, maybe not as bad.

Gramma Rosie’s share came from Norwich PA where she was born, as well as a handful of other places she lived–Lockport NY, Liberty PA, the Randolph Children’s Home where she and her siblings stayed while their mother sorted out a rough patch–and Olean NY, where she lived for most of her life.

She married young, became a young mother and a young grandmother, was widowed young, and retained her youthful spirit into her nineties. She loved dollies and garage sales and chattering birds–both the kind kept as pets and the ones meant to twitter away in the lilac branches. She worked many years at the Olean Tile Plant–I’m not sure what her job was there, but I assume a good bit of her peck of dirt came from there. I want to say I’ve been told that ladies who worked at the tile plant could be pretty salty when it pleased them.

But never mind that. Until we meet again, here’s to one hundred years. Happy birthday, Gramma Rosie. There’s another little saying I remember you used, and I’ll send it back to you now: I love you, a bushel and a peck.

10 Replies to “Wisdom Wednesday: Happy 100th Birthday, Gramma Rosie”

    1. Sorry so late in responding, but thank you! Yes, looks like we are searching some of the same territory. I got to travel to Potter County once and poke around in the Courthouse Annex and the Historical Society. A couple years later, I happened to read a novel set in Coudersport, and I got such a kick out of it. 🙂

  1. That was Gramma Rosie! Chickadee-dee-dee-dee! Suck the juice! It’ll be alright before you get married! (Some of her other favorite sayings.) I miss her… She always said she wanted to make it to 100 – I wish she would have!

      1. Lol, Grammy had lots of little sayings like that! Actually, what she really meant by you gotta eat a peck of dirt before you die was that you really would probably eat that much dirt in your lifetime! She always said it when the kids would say something was dirty and it needed washed before eating it, and she would retort with that saying. She probably started saying it when Mom was really little, because Mom used to lick the dirt off the potatoes in the bin, and that became kind of a family joke. Suck the juice was when she gave the kids anything drippy, juicy, or messy, and it would drip down their chins….she would say Suck the juice! It’ll be alright before you get married was when the kids would get hurt or bitten by bugs or what have you. She would rub the boo boo and say that.

  2. Gramma Rosie taught me to read before I entered kindergarten. Not only did she love playing with dolls but she loved putting together puzzles. I still remember the big round coffee table that sat in the living room and there was always a puzzle being put together on it.

    My kids always get dirty one way or another and I always tell them “it’s ok. You have to eat a peck of dirt before you die.” I miss gramma so much. I can still picture her sweet smile. So glad I had the time I had with her.

    1. I remember when I was in 2nd grade and we lived up there for a short time, Gramma Rosie started teaching me cursive writing, but everyone told her not to because I would “learn it wrong.” And now we all just type anyway. LOL…

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