Wise Old Swiss Indian

grandma and grandpa 1983It turns out that I have a lot to say about my Grandma Teetsel.  She seems to come up in many of my blog posts so I finally decided to give her a category.  I could have gone for something simple and self-explanatory like “Grandma Teetsel” but that seemed boring.  So instead Grandma’s category is going to be called “Wise Old Swiss Indian.”  Members of my immediate family (none of whom read this blog anyway) know exactly what this means.  Here’s the story for the rest of you. 

Grandma Teetsel was Swiss.  Her maiden name was Schlatter.  Hedwig Asa Schlatter.  She was American born but her parents immigrated here from Switzerland.  I don’t know much about Swiss culture but I imagine the people of Switzerland to be a lot like my grandmother:  tidy, no-nonsense perfectionists who are extremely organized.  This is because when I was a kid my grandfather would say things like “The floors are always clean in this house because your grandmother is a good Swiss woman.”  and “No cheating at cards tonight.  Those Swiss eyes are watching.” 

It was Grandpa Teetsel who is actually coined the term “Wise Old Swiss Indian.”  Grandma and Grandpa were visiting our house for the weekend and we were all sitting around the dinner table arguing about something.  I have no idea what just that we were all yelling at each other about something.  My grandmother who usually participated in such events with vigor had quieted down at one point while the rest of us tried to out-shout each other.  And suddenly Grandpa’s voice rose above the rest saying “Quiet everyone!  Let the Wise Old Swiss Indian speak!” 

It totally broke the tension in the room and when we were all done laughing Grandma rose her half-drunk Tom Collins and said….something.  I have no idea what because I don’t remember but whatever it was it ended the argument. 

After that we referred to my grandmother as the Wise Old Swiss Indian.  And whenever the family got in some kind of heated argument someone would eventually break off topic and ask my grandmother, “What does the Wise Old Swiss Indian have to say about this?” 

Rest in peace Grandma!  Your tribe will go on even if our floors are never as clean as yours. 

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5 Responses to Wise Old Swiss Indian

  1. Neal says:

    Well said. I miss being able to speak with my grandmother. It seems strange, but I was able to talk to her about many things that I wouldn’t talk to my own mother about.

    I no longer have any grandparents, but i’m happy to see my children building a healthy and hopefully long lasting relationship with their grandparents.

    • Lady Jessop says:

      I confided a lot of things to my grandmother as well. I loved being around my grandparents. I always felt completely safe and secure when I was with them which I think is a pretty common dynamic for the grandchild/grandparent relationship.

  2. Lynne says:

    I love your grandma!

  3. Hi Karen,
    I enjoyed the” Wise Old Swiss Indian”. It was nice to see a picture of my aunt and uncle, never seen a picture
    of Uncle Harlan before. Aunt Heddy looks like my grandmother and Uncle Harlan looks like your father.

    • Lady Jessop says:

      Glad you like the picture Susan! It’s from 1983 and I keep it in a frame. It’s the essence of how I remember my grandparents. Grandpa always smiling and chuckling and Grandma perfectly pressed and neat. I’ve only seen one picture of Nana Schlatter and you are right…my grandma does take after her.

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