Sunday, May 8, 2011

My Nana

 I was reading Mature Landscaping the other morning and Nance’s topic, her grandmother, immediately made me think of my Nana. Eava (or Eva) Seymour was born in the Iron Range town of Tower, Minnesota in 1890. When I look at her school picture I have to admit that she was funny looking little kid. Time moves on and she grew up tall (for those times) probably 5’7 or 5’8. She would have been considered a beauty; petite women were considered ‘pretty’ in those days and she was tall. A classical beauty. She was wooed and won by a handsome Scot, an immigrant and a scoundrel. He was also my grandfather, William B Dunn. She soon had two children, my Aunt Jessie and my father, another William B. Then, in the early 1920’s, the scoundrel came up with the idea of taking the family to California to live. Which he did and then promptly disappeared, going back to Minnesota and another woman, leaving his small family alone and broke in San Francisco. Nana had to get a job if they were going to survive and she found it almost impossible to find work in those days, but they did survive. Dad told me of stealing bread and fruit during the leanest of times. Eventually they made it to Los Angeles and that is where Dad finished school, graduating from John Marshall High School. She didn’t like to talk about the past so I only received bits and pieces of her story as I was growing up. I remember my dad always referred to her as ‘Tilly’, short for “Tilly the Toiler’, a popular comic strip character from the 1920’s that was described as a ‘Stylish working girl…’. I do know that she worked for J.W. Robinson Co., a high class department store in downtown Los Angeles. For years she worked as a saleslady on the 7th floor, in the  Lamp Department. Sadly, she made a mistake when she went to work for them because she listed her age as being 10 years younger. I think she was afraid of age discrimination. All was well until it was time for retirement and then she had to continue working until she was 75 if she wanted the pension. Of course she did.  And she worked till the day she died…    
My favorite memory of Nana was a day when my younger sister and I had taken our red wagon out to find bottles to collect for their redemption value. We lived near the beach and discarded bottles were hard to find. I was 6 years old at the time and my sister just 3. We had been lucky and after a long day had found enough bottles to cover the bottom of the wagon. We were right in front of our house when three older kids came walking up and demanded that we give them the bottles. We protested of course and just as tensions reached a peak, the screen door of the house flew open and Nana came to our rescue. I had never seen her with her hair down before and I was quite startled to see her magnificent cloud of gray hair flying into the air behind her as she grabbed the hose, turned the water on and raced toward us, directing the spray at our tormentors. “Shoo!’ she yelled. “Shoo, you kids and don’t come back!” Well, they shooed all right and we were saved! It was the one and only time I can remember her raising her voice. Our hero! 


  1. Kitty8:40 AM

    Thank you for posting this picture and story of our Nana. We loved here dearly, didn't we? Good story of you and Julie collecting bottles for redemption...I had not heard that one. What a wonderful childhood we had.

  2. How weird is that? Different colored fonts?

    Back to the subject...yes, it was a great childhood. I could be weird and still be accepted. And then high school came along and everything changed for me.

  3. I love this story! Thanks for sharing Grandpa!

  4. You're welcome...I'll try and share more often.