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I would like to tell you about a very special lady to me. She is Roberta Plank Deever, and she is my mother's mother. Since I am Korean, Grandma Deever is not my genetic grandmother, but in my heart she is my real and favorite grandma. Now would like to tell you about her life as she told it to me in an interview on Thanksgiving Day, 1991 She was born at home on December 10, 1913 and named Roberta Valorie Plank, the daughter of proud parents, John A. Plank and Gertrude Heloise Becker Plank, also called Nana by her family and friends. She was supposed to be a boy named Robert, but she was born a girl and they put an “a'' after Robert and made it Roberta. My grandmother had one older sister named Gayle and an older brother named John Kermit, but he died as a baby of pneumonia. The children lived in a twostory house that their father built. He owned a meat business and had his shop and slaughtering house behind their home. He was known in York, PA. for having good, fresh meat. He had two delivery routes with horse drawn buggies. He then moved to the Market Street house where he had a ''modern'' refrigeration service (ice house). Grandma was just a little girl when all this happened. At age 10, her life took a sad change. Her parents divorced and that forced Grandma to pick her mother to live with. Gayle, her sister, chose to live with her father. That made Grandma feel much sadness because she never saw her father or sister much after that. In 1924, Grandmother and her mother were rather prosperous due to the money from investments. But in 1929, the stock market crashed, and she lost all of her investment. During the Depression, Grandma's mother worked in a sewing factory making pajamas. Her boss was mean but Grandma was not aware of these sad times. During the Depression her mother had to work long and hard to make ends meet. Grandma had to learn how to play by herself. She played with her wagon
and roller skates. She had no bike or radio, and TV's were not invented yet. However, Grandma does remember having a telephone. Grandma remembered her childhood house as having both indoor and outdoor plumbing and an icebox. Grandma said that they had to put a card in the window to tell the iceman how many pounds of ice they wanted. Grandma remembered her bedroom as being nice. She had chores of cleaning the house and doing the dishes. Although her mother owned a car, they still traveled by electric streetcars that cost .03 for a child and .05 for an adult. Once they traveled to Fairfield (around Gettysburg) to visit her father's parents. She remembered this as a fun trip. Another trip was to Reedville, PA. to visit her Aunt Edna. Aunt Edna had a big feather bed and Grandma had to climb up on a stool to get into the bed. She also dressed herself by the warmth of the wood-burning stove in the kitchen. Other vacations were to Pittsburgh, PA and Washington D.C. Grandma was never allowed to drive her mother's car very much and Grandma did not have her own car as a teenager. When Grandma was dating she had two boy friends and they both came to pick her up at the same time! She does not remember how this mix up came about, but she does remember being embarrassed. She also remembers the boy friends’ frustrations at having to compete for her. However, she never married either of these boyfriends. Grandma's early childhood had several ups and downs. One happy time was when her mother married again to a man named Mr. Weaver. He was partially retired and owned a butcher shop. Sadly, however, they remained together only three years before he died. Throughout this time, Grandma often had feelings of sadness. She did not feel pretty and was never satisfied with her looks. No one ever said she was pretty, not even her mother. As a matter of fact, it was hard for her mother to give hugs and kisses to her. Her mother had a hard time expressing love and she was rather strict in discipline. Grandma said that after meeting my grandpa, her life changed for the better! Grandma attended Elmwood Elementary School in York, PA. Because she lived rather close to school, she walked to and from school daily. She even went home for lunch each day!
Although her mother and father had only completed the eighth grade when they quit school, Grandma wanted to graduate from high school and go to college to get a career. At West York High School there were 45 classmates in her class. Grandma still attends her yearly class reunions! She just went to her 59th class reunion! She likes to see many of her old friends. In spite of all Grandmas’ friends, school remained rather difficult for her. Math was a hard subject, but science and geography where her favorites. One reason Grandma did not make good grades was because her mother did not push her hard enough. For this reason she regrets that she did not study more. When I asked her about her high school experiences she said memories of her high school were few. One of her funny memories was of the girl's basketball team. At first she wanted to play on the team, but decided against it when she found out that she would have to wear black bloomers! She thought they looked silly. Grandma remembers two very special high school friends, Mary Warner and Russell Steel. Mary Warner was a good girl friend that was very beautiful and she wanted to be a laboratory technician. She encouraged Grandma to think about becoming a lab technician too. Grandma liked Mary's beauty and her zest for life and she became Grandma's role model. Russell Steel was a good friend of the opposite sex. He became a scientist and eventually went to South America to do experiments. He just died this past year. Remembering her girlfriend's advice Grandma went on to the University of PA. to study to be a lab technician. It took her two years to complete. After graduation she was unable to find work due to the Depression, so she worked at a shoe store. A lucky break came when she was offered a laboratory technician job in Albany, New York at the medical center. Her mother was concerned about her going so far away that she decided to go with her for protection! At Albany Medical School Grandma got lucky. Not only did she like her job drawing blood samples, but also she met and married John Wilkin Deever, who is my grandfather and my mother's father. He was a struggling medical student. To help make money for Grandpa's schooling, Grandma also worked for the Bio Chemical Research Foundation. She really liked that job and made good money. She worked until Grandpa became a doctor and they moved to Indianapolis,
Indiana to start their family. Grandma said that she liked being a laboratory technician but she wished that she could have studied to be a teacher. At the time Grandma and Grandpa were ready to start their family: World War II started. Grandpa volunteered to fight the war, but he was declared ''essential'' and remained in the community to practice medicine. They had three children, a boy and two girls. My mother was the middle child. John, the oldest, died in a freak accident in the fall of 1964, while Andrea and Karen still live in Indianapolis with their families. Grandma said it was very hard on them to loose John and she still misses him terribly. Grandma's mother, Nana, moved in with the family until her death in 1965. Grandma's family life kept her busy and fulfilled. Although grandma did not continue her career as a laboratory technician she did do volunteer work for the American Red Cross. She worked as a member of the Disaster Team. Also she volunteered for the Women's Medical Auxiliary and eventually became Indiana State President of the Auxiliary. She always enjoyed her volunteer work. At the present time Grandma and Grandpa live in Hot Springs Village, Arkansas. They moved there after Grandpa's retirement in 1971. Grandma said they picked Arkansas because it was one of the most beautiful places on earth. Grandma should know, because she has traveled all around the world. Good friends and the warm climate make it a nice place to live in their retirement. Her activities center on the people she loves, playing golf and card games. She also enjoys eating out, having parties, shopping and going to church. Traveling is still very important to her and she is always planning her next trip. Grandma, at present age of 78 years old, still feels very well. She said that her mind is still sharp but her physical strength is not as good as it once was. She loves to wake up early in the morning and loves to get in bed early at night. Watching the birds at her bird feeder makes her happy. The beauty of her lake and hills adds to her enjoyment. Even though she has recovered from two broken hips, she still gets around good as new. Keeping active has always been very important to her. Being afraid has not been a part of her daily life. As I said, people are very important to Grandma. She likes people and enjoys having fun with them. Grandma's philosophy is to keep a good sense of humor and laugh away your problems. She really likes to tease and make people happy.
The disease polio was real during Grandma's early lifetime. She said that Dr. Salk was the greatest person of all time because he discovered the vaccine to prevent young people from getting sick and crippled with polio. She really liked him. Grandma feels that our biggest problems center on the deterioration of the family trust, and that leads to unhappiness. Grandma says that we need to try to work together and care about each other again. She and Grandpa have been married for 55 years. That is why Grandma and Grandpa's relationship is so very important to our family. Today's educational system is not quite right, Grandma believes. She feels that's there is too much playing and not enough learning. Education needs to push students more and more. She said kids couldn’t learn when they are thinking about drugs and sex. Grandma's opinion of young people today is that some are a nice and others are not nice. She still likes people and would love to have a black President or a woman President. She trusts these people to make good decisions. Finally, Grandma gave me three pieces of advice to guide my life. She said, “to keep going, achieve your goals, and think good about yourself.'' These things will help me in my future. And then she said, “Remember, I will always love you.” My grandmother is very special to me. I know she really cares about me because she always shares her love with me. She may not be my biological grandmother, but in all ways she is my real grandmother.
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