if its not yummy, then we better make it funny.

Monday, March 02, 2009

working gramps

My grandparents operated as a team. In fact, when my Grandfather was diagnosed with lung cancer it was not completely surprising, as he had been a smoker for many years. What was surprising was that my grandmother died quickly before he passed. Was it that she had always spent her life as his assistant and wasn't keen to change her role at that late stage? Maybe it was that he had the stronger constitution for coping without the other? They, The Ganty's, were from an era when you could sculpt your fortune with hard work and focus. In their home, in which cocktails each evening were a given, there were small silver boxes filled with cigarettes on the coffee table and in the den. You could almost always find a little blue can of macadamia nuts in the bar refrigerator. There were always square loaves of homemade white bread that was good toasted. Grandma Caddie prepared top notch dinners every night. Sometimes it was Lima beans and ham, other times, corned beef. I remember the cheesecakes and the aspic salads with the precious crab legs encased within them, usually she finished them with a dollop of mayo' and a sprinkle of paprika. During the day we ate grapenuts with cream and plenty of sugar (which was freely and openly positioned on the breakfast table, on top of an ironed tablecloth). Grandpa had a boiled egg which was runnier than my sister and I thought palatable, he quietly read his paper and drank his coffee each morning. At lunch time my sister and I writhed over the option of tongue sandwiches. Even though my grandmother did a lot of ironing, of which she would break from, to drink a glass of buttermilk, she sent out Grandpa's shirts to be washed and starched or pressed or whatever they do to shirts that businessmen wear. We got to draw on the stiff white cardboards that they came back on.

They were the only 'complete set' couple I had to observe up close in my early years. Prosper and Clarabelle (although everyone called her Caddie) Ganty were an old fashioned couple. Pros was born into a poor family and I wonder if he was named Prosper to change that fate. Caddie was from Jessup the family. The Jessups operated the local paper in Bremerton, the Searchlight, for years and years. Caddie's family was known for humor and ridicules antics. Pros's family, who were from Alaska, was more stoic, although both sides had some colorful characters. By the time I came along Caddie and Pros were spending their time between their home on Lake Washington and South Eastern Alaska. They shuttled between in the Cessna that floated out in the boathouse on the Bellevue side of the lake.

Recently, the history of the Ganty's has been pieced together with the help of my Aunt Maryjane. Maryjane, my father's sister, who lived in Seattle throughout my youth, has very good taste in hats, she can pull off hats that you'd look silly in. She has a lovely rustle in her voice. She has three children who were close in age to my sister Gretchen and I. Gretchen lucked out with a cousin, Jennifer, who was exactly her age. Jennifer had a brother on either side. I was often matched up with the Johnny, the youngest. I remember we had baths at my Grandma Caddie's, with Mr. Bubble from the pink box. I also remember the day my sister pointed out that “Ooh, you are taking a bath with a boy!” Poor Johnny, I think I refused to bathe with him after that. Gretchen also terrorized me at about age three or four by revealing that she was in fact “really a boy” Despite the obvious evidence, I believed her, and was quite perturbed. How had she fooled me all this time?

Now really, with that kind of thinking, it's a wonder us Ganty girls ever got around to reproducing at all!


  1. This was very nice. My name is David Fremming. My father and mother, Elliott and Esther Fremming moved from Elfin Cove to Pelican on the 2nd of February in 1948 to operate the general store for the Pelican Cold Storage. We lived there until my mother died in September 1959. I have many fond memories of Pros and Caddy. We lived in the apartment right next to them I still keep in touch with Maryjane.

  2. Hi Kate - thank you so much for sharing this story. I just had a chance to visit Pelican and I'm very interested in learning more about your grandparents and especially your grandmother's famous, eponymous dish, the Halibut Caddy Ganty. Could you please email me when you get a chance at louisa@movable-feast.com? Thanks again.


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