Friday, April 1, 2011

Happy Birthday, Grandma Edith!!

Edith Vivian Hunt
b. April 1, 1920
My paternal grandmother, Edith Vivian Hunt Brittain, was born on this date, April 1, in 1920. And she was no fool! Since I've been following in Grandma Edith's genealogy footsteps, I'd like to take a moment to honor her memory.

Edith Vivian Hunt was born in Slick, Creek County, Oklahoma to James William "Earl" Hunt and Ethel Modina Martindale Hunt. She was the older sister to Edgar James "Bud" Hunt and George Lee Hunt. She grew up in Oklahoma, and that's where she married my grandfather, Woodie Leroy Brittain, on August 18, 1938. They then moved to California shortly after that, settling in Hayward. There, Grandma and Grandpa had one son: my dad, William Lee Brittain, on October 28, 1942.

Grandma and Grandpa stayed in the East Bay Area, eventually moving to Livermore. This is where my sister, Cindy, and I spent most of our time with Grandma Edith, and where our fond memories of her live. Grandma Edith was a wonderful grandmother! She was a bit childlike, herself, so she had no problem keeping up with Cindy and me, and seemed to love playing with us for hours on end. Here are some of my dearest memories of spending time with Grandma Edith:
  • There was a pond near their house in the Springtown neighborhood of Livermore, California. Grandma would save up the ends of her bread loaves until Cindy and I came to visit. Then, we'd walk over to the pond and feed the ducks. If we were lucky, Grandma would let us walk across the street to the 7-11 and get a Slurpee and some candy!
  • Grandma loved board games and often played Chinese Checkers and Monopoly with us. The Monopoly games were often marathon events, but Grandma had endless patience (and/or stamina!) and usually stuck with us to the end of each game. 
  • Grandma Edith and I shared a love of black licorice. One of our favorite things to do was to buy a pack of the really long, skinny licorice strings and unfurl it. Then, each of us would take an end and start nibbling until we met in the middle with a sweet kiss. 
  • Grandma's southern cooking! Oh, she made the best fried chicken and pecan pie and homemade biscuits and... Everything she made was wonderful. She also liked to fry her eggs in about an inch of bacon fat (I know -- could have had something to do with the hardening of the arteries she eventually suffered from). She was also great at letting Cindy and me "help" in the kitchen, and she often let me sneak sips of her coffee when Mom wasn't looking. 
  • Her passion for genealogy. Grandma spent hours researching Grandpa Woodie's and her family histories. This was long before personal computers and the Internet. Grandma did it "old school style." I remember sitting with her while she read letters from cousins (near and distant) comparing notes on their research and answering questions for one another. I loved hearing about her regular trips to Oklahoma to visit her family there. I'm indebted to Grandma Edith for her dedication and hard work on our family tree, and for planting the genealogy seed that eventually grew in me.

Grandma was also a breast cancer survivor, and battled that beast with bravery. She eventually was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease at some point during my teenage years. It was brutal for all of us to watch her decline and see her once curious mind and playful disposition deteriorate. She finally passed away on June 2, 1993, but we really lost her long before then. She's buried at the National Cemetery in San Bruno, California, and I'm lucky that I live near enough that I'm able to visit and pay my respects fairly often. I still miss Grandma Edith, and I'm proud to honor her on this special day.
Grandma Edith with me and my little sister, Cindy


  1. Lovely tribute to a stunning woman. Certainly a day to celebrate.

  2. She would be so proud and honored at what you wrote about her, Wendy. I'm proud. Love, Mom