Elaine Johnson Parks

Elaine Johnson Parks
Bremerton, WA
Grandmothers, Homemade, Immigrant, In memoriam, Moving west, Sickness and health

My nana, Miss Emma Adelheid Wilhelm (11/9/1898 – 7/13/1974) crocheted this blanket circa 1950. It always sat at the foot of her bed. Born in Ludwigshafen, Germany, she immigrated to the U.S. around 1915 and became a citizen. She met my maternal grandfather and became a part of our family’s life, working as a hairdresser in Morristown, NJ. She ran my grandfather’s beauty shop, particularly when his alcoholism got worse. She sewed, knitted, embroidered, etc. and made a mean pizza that has never been duplicated. She made clothes for us. She never married, but traveled extensively. In her final years, Nana lived with our family in Bowie, MD. She died from leukemia. I married and moved to Bremerton in 1978. My parents followed in the 1980s, bringing Nana’s blanket with them. I studied this blanket for the first time last night and was amazed by the artistry behind its creation. Note the tight gauge, even stitches, and elegance of the slightly muted color scheme. This blanket holds so many memories, and now it will become a part of art history and represent Emma Wilhelm, who will always be part of my family history. This blanket smells a little musty from years in storage, but it’s not an unpleasant scent. It’s the essence of memories.