Grandma & Star Wars



In 1977, my cousin James was a boy in Iowa and desperate to see the first Star Wars movie. But there was a hitch. His mother, my Aunt Carol, refused to take him. She wanted nothing to do with this odd film. I can hear her saying, “I’m not watching that nonsense!”

He had to find a way around Mom. So instead, Grandma was enlisted as chaperone. I don’t know if Mom was consulted or if they conspired together without her knowledge.

“Okay, I will take you, but don’t tell your mother.”

Being an uncle, I can understand how a cute little kid can easily convince someone to do him a favor.

I never did talk to Grandma about it, however. What did she think of the movie? Was she a fan? Probably not.

But I love the story. My cousin James and I have talked about this little nugget of family lore from time to time. Both of us became big Star Wars fans. He, however, is a huge fan, with all sorts of memorabilia.

It is still strange to think that Grandma experienced Star Wars long before I did. We are talking years, perhaps a decade.¹ It is still hard to fathom. She was always old to me, someone who wouldn’t understand sci-fi or anything else us kids found popular. But that assumption was naive.

For awhile Grandma was wheeling and dealing on eBay, focused on buying and selling for her porcelain collection. She had a big Strawberry Ripe collection. These were made by Hammersley in England. She wanted to learn, so I taught her how to use the site to find what she wanted and offer pieces for sale that she didn’t.

Before moving to an assisted living home, Grandma gave the collection to one of the grandkids of her second husband, Bill, which I thought rather peculiar. I wondered why it didn’t go to my sister. Now, however, it seems trivial.

I am gonna miss her. Grandma was always there. No matter what. She just was. As if a god. And now she is gone.


1. I wasn’t exposed to Star Wars until the mid-1980s. Darth Vader was a perfect villain. I was afraid of him. I was confined to watching the movies on TV. Our family did not have a television set for years. Then finally, after intense lobbying by us four kids, our father broke down and bought one. It was a monstrous piece of furniture, an unwieldy Hitachi, I think.  I didn’t see any Star Wars film in a theater until the release of the Special Editions in 1997 to celebrate the 20th anniversary. Living in Seattle at the time, I jumped at the chance and spent quite a few hours in the Neptune Theater in the U District catching up.

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