Saturday, December 17, 2011

"You are royalty to me." ~ Ellis

Today my Grandma Lunkin would have been 109 years old.  She has been gone for many years now, but she lives on in the hearts and memories of my mother, my father, my sisters and me.  Grandma's actual name was Adelma Anderson Young.  She was born in Norway, and emigrated to this country as a young child.  She and her parents settled in Hamilton, NY, where she lived the remainder of her life.  Grandma got the name Grandma Lunkin from the Norwegian song that she sang as she danced with us around the kitchen - the refrain was "Kunkin, lunkin, lunkin, la!" I don't know that we ever knew what that meant - but it was festive and happy - and that pretty much describes my grandma. 

My Grandmother, Adelma Anderson Young, with my mother on her lap.
Back in August of 2009, at the height of the "Julie and Julia" movie, the Syracuse Post Standard asked readers to submit their "Recipes for Disaster", or cooking escapades gone wrong.  They published, along with others, the following tale that I shared about cooking with my grandma.

Published: Tuesday, August 04, 2009
At least their breath was minty fresh

My grandmother, Adelma Anderson Young, was originally from Norway, but came to Hamilton as a small child. Grandma, known to my sisters and me as "Grandma Lunkin," after a Norwegian song that she'd sing as she danced around the kitchen with us, was a bit of a madcap. As a young adult, I went to Hamilton one day early to give Grandma a hand preparing Thanksgiving dinner. Grandma decided to try a cucumber and yogurt salad. The recipe called for a "splash" of vinegar. She added a "splash," but then added a few more for good measure. After placing the bottle on the table, I happened to look at the label, which read "Kills millions of germs on contact." Upon closer inspection, I realized that Grandma had added several "splashes" of Listerine! When I pointed this out to her, the thing that concerned her most was that I promise to not tell my grandfather - he already thought she was nuts! I urged Grandma to leave the salad exactly as it was and see if anyone could tell what the secret ingredient was. She wouldn't, and made it all again, using vinegar this time.

Tracy Altieri

I must say that this was true Grandma.  It was not unlike her to show up with two different earrings on, having tried a different one on each ear to see which she liked best, and then forgotten to change the other one.  One day a few years back, I showed up at school with two completely different shoes on. I don't mean one blue and one black - I mean completely different.  After my initial shock I laughed till I cried and said that I was turning into my grandmother - I can think of nothing better.

Our grandmother's love was total and unconditional - I can still see her blowing kisses to us from her front porch as we pulled away.  I am who I am because I was loved by a queen.

The video below contains a song written and sung by Ellis.  I saw her perform this past June at the Old Songs Festival, held yearly in Altamont, N.Y.  She is a joyous performer - that's the best way for me to describe her. Anyhow - the song, "You are Royalty to Me", was written for her grandmother, and the video contains photos of loving grandmothers and their grandchildren.  I guarantee that it will bring a smile to your face and  lump to your throat.


  1. Laugh-out-loud funny! I love your stories. Grandmothers are very special, aren't they?

  2. LOL, LOVE the Listerine story. She sounds like a wonderful woman, you are blessed. Clarice