Sweet Grandma, Dorothy Ransom Hess (In Memoriam)

Dorothy Ransom Hess
November 1914 – January 2014

My beautiful Grandma Hess passed away in her sleep early this morning at the age of 99.  She was such a sweet and lovely person, inside and out. I have only the very happiest of memories with her. I know she is having a wonderful reunion in Heaven with loved ones who have gone on before. Just a few days ago, she was imagining that she was with her brothers and sister, and also that she was baking cinnamon rolls and pies. 🙂

October 2012
along with my mother Mary, my daughter Mary,
my two grandsons and myself

Several memories come to mind right away…

  • She kept a drawer of toys at her house in Pennsylvania so we grandchildren could play when we visited. Unfortunately, we always lived hundreds or even thousands of miles away until I was almost a teenager.
  • There was always something good to eat at her house. She and Grandpa were both excellent cooks and so good with showing hospitality. She loved ice cream and all kinds of other desserts, and often ate them before dinner. See My Grandma’s Cracker Cookie Bars and My Scrapple Experiment
  • She sent lots of letters and cards.  I especially remember the ones with cute little animals on them. There were also postcards from their world travels.  She and Grandpa were so adventurous! 
  • She was very good keeping up with photo albums.  There is a huge pile of them.  She also kept journals of what happened each day, though never much about her feelings.
  • She is the only person who ever called me Ginny Lynn past the time when I got to kindergarten and found out my name was really Virginia.  And she got away with it.
  • She made colorful afghans for each of my children.
  • She played the organ and piano beautifully.  She knew and loved lots of old hymns.  See Love Lifted MeIt Is Well with My Soul and Sweet Hour of Prayer.
  • The last few times I saw her, she didn’t always remember who I was, but she sure was glad to see me anyway!  I am so glad that I have been able to travel to Maryland several times in recent years to see her.  See Visiting Great Grandmother
  • She and Grandpa were faithfully married for almost 76 years, until he passed away in 2010.  See Diamonds in Our Family Tree and 75 Years and Counting: Celebrating the Marriage of Henry and Dorothy Hess
  • Grandpa and Grandma are survived by four of their six children.  David died as a baby, and my mother passed away last summer. They also have 13 grandchildren (I am in the very middle) and I lost track of how many great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren they have.  Her children called them Mother and Daddy.
After the more recent photos below, I am including some memories that Grandma Hess wrote about her own younger years. There are plenty of vintage photos to go with them, so keep scrolling down!

July 2013, with my mother (the last time they saw each other)

Summer 2013, with six of my children at her nursing home

She loved to page through photo albums,
remembering those who had gone on before

October 2012 with my grandson

2010, trying to figure out my iPod!
2009 at their 75th anniversary party
Henry, Dorothy, and all five of their children

2008, recovering from hip surgery


    Many many years ago, I asked my grandmother to write down some of her memories from growing up and starting a family. What you see below is an excerpt. The full text is at Tribute to My Grandfather, Henry Edward Hess, Sr
      Memories from Dorothy Ransom Hess

      I was born in a small town called Dorranceton, Pennsylvania, later merged with Kingston. I went to Kingston schools. The first five grades I walked about three blocks to school. Then it was six blocks until I was through eighth grade, then further to walk to high school. When I was around five years old, my father decided to buy a farm, too, and bought one right across the dirt road from the Hess farm. 

      So you see, [Henry and I] grew up as neighbors. We only stayed at the farm from May until October and then would go down to our city home. That was until the big stock market crash in 1929. Then my father sold our city place and we lived in the country one. My father was a contractor and built hundreds of homes in the Wyoming Valley. Imagine, in those days he sold homes for $500 and automobiles cost about $500. He was also one of the first to own an automobile in the area. The houses of course didn’t have plumbing nor electricity at the beginning. Like out in the country, we used oil lamps and candles and gas lanterns until our fathers bought Delco light plants for our electricity. 

      Ransom home in Demunds
      Our first radio caused lots of excitement. We had to use our ear phones so only one could listen at a time until we finally got a speaker to set up on top the radio. You didn’t just plug in your radio at first, you had batteries working it. Folks would brag that they heard Chicago last night, or New York.

      When I was fourteen I invited Henry to a Valentine Party and they played kissing games. We said we’d all invite boys. So I invited Henry. And he’d never been to a party with kissing games. He drove the Cadillac down, and all the kids were saying, “Who has that big Cadillac?” He was 16. He kissed me and some of the others too. We played Post Office and Spin the Bottle. It was all the rage about then. After that he asked me for a date. From then on if there was anything going on at school Henry and Elizabeth and I would all go together.

      Wedding Day
      Wedding Day
      June 24, 1934

      When we first got married we had an apartment over the Ransom garage. We had a nice sized living room and a small kitchen and a bedroom, and we built a big porch across the back. There was an outside toilet, or we used a pail. It wasn’t really winterized but we had a heating stove up there.  Our daughter Barbara was on the way when we had the apartment. My mother wasn’t well and Mother Hess got sick, and I guess that first winter we went over and stayed with Mother Hess and Henry’s brother George in the big Hess house. She died that spring.  Henry’s older sister Amelia and her husband Sam were in the Hess big home, and we had George come live with us in the little Hess house down by the road.  There were two Ransom houses and two Hess houses.

      One of your Grandfather’s first jobs was in an ice plant. Before they learned how to manufacture ice, men cut ice from lakes and ponds and stored it in an ice house where they packed the ice in sawdust to keep it from melting. Then men would truck it from house to house and sell you maybe fifty pounds for your refrigerator and it would keep things cool for a few days. We were married over ten years before we bought an electric refrigerator. After the refrigeration business died down, your grandfather learned how to sell life insurance and that remained until retirement.

      While still in the ice business, the war, World War II, came along and your grandfather served in the Navy. He was a Machinist Mate second class. He didn’t have to fight. He was on a repair ship to keep refrigeration units working. He was gone for almost two years. They were a long two years for me for we had five children and I was expecting the sixth. 

      While he was away in 1944, David George was born in the back of my brother Willis’ car with his cord around his neck.  All I could remember was taking the blanket and saying “Here Louise, wrap him up in a blanket.” Willis came later and said, “Dorothy, we buried the baby on top of Mother Hess.” They wouldn’t take a whole grave for a baby. I never wanted to go to the cemetery to see. I heard Henry telling somebody that when we die and are buried he wanted something about David too.  I was in the hospital a week and I don’t even remember being in the hospital.
      Then along came TV. Our neighbors bought a TV set and graciously let our children and the neighbor children to come in Friday night and sit on the floor and watch a certain family program, like “I Remember Mama” or some such show. It was a great Friday night thrill. After a year or two they wanted to buy a better set so offered their set to Grandpa Hess for a reasonable price and we became TV owners.

      Organist at First United Methodist in Dallas, Pennsylvania

      1960’s or 1970’s

      Now we are into the Computer Age. What fantastic changes every day. We just can’t keep up with what they are doing. Look at your children, as young as they are, having their own web site and we don’t even know what all that means. 

      I love you so much, Grandma!
      I miss you.

      Yours always,
      Ginny Lynn

      Summer 2012


      About virginiaknowles

      I am a mother and grandmother of a huge family, and I still home school my youngest daughter. I write to stay sane. My WordPress blog is a combination of my Blogspot blogs, and may not be continually updated.
      This entry was posted in http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, My Parents ~ My Childhood, Photographs, Pilgrimage and Jubilee. Bookmark the permalink.

      10 Responses to Sweet Grandma, Dorothy Ransom Hess (In Memoriam)

      1. Elena says:

        What a lovely story!

      2. jviola79 says:

        I am so glad that I stopped here from Wholehearted Wed. What a beautiful post filled with precious memories that touch so deeply. All I can say is thank you for sharing her with us all in & through this post! Blessings!

      3. Kath says:

        Such lovely memories…
        May her soul rest in peace.
        Thank you for sharing and may
        God bless you 🙂

      4. Dawn says:

        Precious memorial! I lost my grandmother earlier this month and I can truly sympthize with you. Praying for you in the days ahead. May your memories and your faith comfort you.

      5. Thank you, Judy! So good to have you as my cousin.

      6. Thank you, Elena. She was a lovely lady, for sure!

      7. Thank you, Kath. She was a sweet lady, and we miss her a lot.

      8. Thank you for your kind words! I'm glad you visited my blog from Judith's.

      9. Thank you for your kindness, Dawn, and I pray you also will be comforted in the loss of your grandmother.

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