I don’t remember my Great-Grandma Doane. When I was born, she was 76 years old. I’m told we met, once, and that she held me, but though I do have a few startlingly early memories, I can’t recall her or anything about meeting her. She died when I was two.
A few months ago, my mother was visiting her mother, who lives alone now that my grandfather has passed. My grandma has always been a caretaker–the mother and grandmother who seemed always to be on her feet and busy. Grandpa was the one who would sit and chat for ages, while Grandma listened, and occasionally interjected to correct his fish tales. Never, in all my 40 years, has my grandmother ever shared anything about her family or her younger life with me. But while my mom was visiting, Grandma started to talk about her mother, and suddenly we knew Sadie.
Sadie was born in Utah. She raised her young family in Rupert, Idaho, a tiny farming town about 175 miles outside of the capital of Boise. Sadie and her husband Chauncey moved there in 1925. He was a plumber. The Great Depression loomed. By the early 1930s, they had six children, though one had died before she turned five. The young family lived in a rented home with three rooms: a kitchen, and two bedrooms. Sadie and Chauncey slept in one bedroom, and the two girls shared another. My grandmother can’t recall where the boys slept, but thinks maybe out on the porch, which would have been frigid in the Rupert winters. On cold nights, Chauncey would heat rocks and put them in the children’s beds to keep them warm.
To try and keep their small family fed throughout the Depression, Sadie and Chauncey learned to be self-sufficient. Sadie raised chickens, and kept the baby chicks in the (tiny!) house until they were large enough to be in the fenced yard. Chauncey kept a large garden, and raised rabbits, and hunted duck to keep the family fed. Sadie’s younger sister Ethel sewed dresses for the girls so that they each had two, and Sadie would wash them each week on wash day, scrubbing all the children’s clothes by hand on a washboard. Her brother Charles had a potato storage business, and gave the school a 50-lb bag of potatoes to purchase his nieces’ and nephews’ school lunches so they wouldn’t go hungry.
Because Sadie and Chauncey never, ever could afford a car, Sadie walked everywhere. She walked to her job at her father’s laundry. She walked to her job picking potatoes, and her job as a movie ticket-taker. She walked to her job at the grocery store, whistling all the way there and back. She walked to church twice each Sunday with her children in tow. She walked into the country to visit her sister, and she walked to the other side of town to her parents’ home, where she took care of them as they aged.
As I read my grandmother’s memories of her mother, Sadie, I became filled with love for this woman. She worked and worked and walked and walked, and she did it all simply so her children could have the real necessities of life. She also did it without complaining; my grandmother says that she never realized how little they had, and that they were happy. When I think about Sadie and the life she lived, I am overwhelmed with compassion for my great-grandmother. I couldn’t stop thinking about her walking happily along the road, despite how worried and tired she must have been. I wanted her to have something beautiful.
When I designed the Sadie Cloche, I designed it with my great-grandmother’s needs in mind. She needed a cloche, of course, to be right in style with the glamorous ladies of her generation. But I wanted her hat to be something she could wear with everything–not so ornate that she would only bring it out for special occasions. I wanted Sadie to have a hat that was understatedly beautiful: a little bit of delicate loveliness that she could wear as she walked that would bring her joy and make her feel like the queen she truly was.
So, Sadie, and everyone else out there who soldiers on with joy, this is for you. I hope you love it.
The Sadie Cloche is available now!
See this pattern on Ravelry