Grandmother Christina nee Schweikert
Judy A. Remmick-Hubert, Lafayette, California, shares an e-mail
message with this story about Grandmother Christina nee Schweikert
Since Vera shared her granny story, I've been thinking
about my own German - Russian - American grandmother Christina,
nee Schweikert, Hein who was one of those pioneering women who settled
first in the Dakotas, then Wyoming and then in Montana in the early
1900s. It was because her independent spirit that I suppose I gained
some of my spirit. She was a woman ahead of her time and so was
I. Some of my favorite stories were the ones about protecting her
lady friends from their husbands who ruled the house often with
fist and curses. And, so, with this brief background let me begin
One Sunday morning, not unlike this Sunday morning,
my grandmother and her ten children attended the old country church.
As she sat listening to the "hell and brimstone" of the minister
she noticed a lady friend who's face had all the signs of a being
battered. All through the sermon she thought about what she must
do to protect this dear friends.
After service, she went to her friend and took her
by the arm and asked if her husband had beaten her, again. The sad
and bruised face showed her fright and she shook her head knowing
if she told anyone that her husband would retaliate. To make a long
story short, my grandmother said she was going to make a visit to
the lady's home that same afternoon.
My grandmother arrived at the lady's home. Got out
of her buggy and saw the lady's husband present himself on the porch.
His appearance was suppose to make her feel frightened. After all,
most women should be frighten of the men. But my grandmother wasn't
frighten and greeted the man as she still held her whip. "I've come
to see" And, he cut her off by saying, "She's busy in her home like
you should be." My grandmother reminded this man, "This is the Sabbath
and the God Almighty tells all to rest, even your wife." My grandmother
left her whip, walked up the steps and passed the husband.
In the house she found her friend who tried to give
her a warm smile but her face showed, again, greater fear but not
just for herself. She believed my grandmother was in danger, as
well. My grandmother asked, "Did your husband beat you, again?"
She could see the woman was not going to tell the truth. So she
said, "God is listening, so answer me truthfully. Did your husband...."
The husband had followed my grandmother and at the doorway he replied,
"All wives need to be beaten from time to time. And, if your husband
was man enough, he'd have beaten you this afternoon for if he had,
you'd be home minding your own business, and be in your own house
doing your duty as a obedient wife."
My grandmother turned and look at the husband. She
saw his smirk smeared over his face. She had seen his kind as a
child in the German-Russian villages. She had seen his kind in the
Dakotas and Wyoming. And, suddenly, she knew it was time things
changed. Near her was a broom and she snatched it up. She wasn't
a large woman but she was strong, And she announced, "If you ever
touch another hair on your wife's head, I'm going to come back her
and beat you." The husband laughed. He held no fear of my grandmother
or any woman. This arrogance churned my grandmother's insides and
she moved toward the husband. "Perhaps it's time," she declared,
"you have a taste of your own medicine." And she swung the broom
down on the husband with one hard and accurate blow. The husband
gave out a yelp. She wasn't done. She struck him many times. And
when she thought he had enough, she stopped and made her vow, "I
promise you, if you ever lay another finger on my friend, I shall
be back and next time I will not be so generous.
The husband, although bruised, grabbed the broom
from my grandmother and laughed, [although not as jocular this time].
My grandmother wasn't going to back away. She knew she had gone
over the line drawn so long ago my the men way back in time before
Jesus was born. And, she couldn't back away not now not ever. The
husband seem to be thinking of striking her and had raised the broom.
"You dare touch me and you're a dead man and I'm not here to get
you killed. Because I assure you my husband or my sons will kill
She didn't think that was true because her husband
would let the law handle such things but she was desperate and needed
some kind of leverage. " What good would that be to leave your wife
a widow and your children fatherless." The husband's instinctively
knew he had to stand his ground. "What they need is a kind hearted
man not a Cruel monster like your self...." He bellowed, "Go home,
you Beetch [sic] and mind your own business. I can take care of
my wife and see to her as I feel I need...." My grandmother moved
toward the carriage as if she was backing away in fear. In a moment,
she had the whip in her hand. The husband felt her whip... My grandmother
won this confrontation... And the husband learned a happy wife found
time to make pies....
More than once my grandmother prevented the husband
from ever beating their wives, her friends, again.
A silent truce blanketed the community.
Oh, there were a few men who continued to beat their
wives but that was because those wives didn't have my grandmother
as a friend.
When the husbands complained to my grandfather, he
would always reply the same, "Treat others as you wish to be treated."
And that was his answer and one of the most prized rules of life