6A Paternal Ancestor Tales

October 27, 2007

My paternal grandfather Harry was a dentist in Chicago who became enraptured with one of the Kellogg brother’s theories that enemas could cure and prevent most illnesses. I don’t remember Grandpa Harry, but I remember as a child getting a few enemas from my parents, so I don’t not remember Grandpa Harry very fondly.

My paternal grandmother Agnes was an early feminist, pacifist, and social climber. I’m not sure how a Jewish feminist pacifist could socially climb very far in Chicago in the 1930s, but apparently climb she did.

Also, Grandfather Harry apparently did not make much money giving enemas. I can’t imagine why. It seems like an activity that would catch on like a wildfire, or maybe like a flood. However, Grandma Agnes got herself into the society pages fairly often, so people in Chicago thought our family had a lot of money. My father told me a fellow college student at one time asked him once if he could borrow my father’s car. The classmate was astonished and disbelieving when my father told his classmate his family didn’t own an automobile. (Apparently, the reality was that the family moved fairly frequently because they could not pay their rent.)

Also, when I was born (Agnes’ first grandchild), Agnes apparently was in a state of denial because she thought that being a grandmother did not accord well with her social-climbing ambitions, so for a bit she refused to accept being called a “grandma.” After a couple of years, however, she made an abrupt about face, and founded Chicago’s first “Grandmother’s Club” and became a social-climbing Grandma.

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4 Responses to “6A Paternal Ancestor Tales”

  1. teaspoon Says:

    I too wonder why your grandfather didn’t make more money from enemas. Perhaps he was just before his time. They are now quite popular in certain circles.

  2. modestypress Says:

    I think it had something to do with not being in the right place at the right time.

  3. janie Says:

    Too bad your Grandpa Harry did not make the acquaintance of some of my ancestral family. He would have made a fortune off them. I knew there must be a reason I hate Kellog cereals. I agree with your Aunt Diana.


  4. If you’ve never read TC Boyle’s splendid book The Road to Wellville , I highly recommend it. Your family stories have reminded me of it on several occasions. (If you’ve seen the film, it doesn’t even begin to come close to doing justice to the book.)


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