Carrie was, of course, a grandmother when I was young, and about sixty. She was quite knowledgeable, sharp, interested in all things, gentle and firmly moral. She would chide Arthur if he made a joke at another's expense, however effective the joke might have been. I generally saw her when she was wearing a print frock over her thin frame, and I remember the details of rimless bifocals in white gold, an octagonal platinum watch with sapphire crown, and a favorite silver cast pin which may have been a rectangle of acanthus leaves with four pendants, the masks of the Greek theater. As often as I asked what they represented, I would and still do only remember three--comedy, tragedy and drama. For fine occasions she would wear a fox fur, designed to look like a pair of foxes biting their tails wrapped around her shoulders, beady eyes, paws and all. A black hat with a sequined veil also fit this picture. A thirties photo portrait of her in a backless dress and curled hair was quite a visual change and rather racy.
She was almost always called Carrie, but formally went by Carolyn although she was apparently christened Carrie. Arthur and Carrie were Mother and Father to their children, and Grandma and Grandpa to their grandchildren.
Carrie insisted that Kaye and Ba were dressed properly when they went out. She repeatedly asked if they had a slip on under their dresses, and it was such an obvious thing to wear with the dresses, that they never went without slips and were annoyed by the constantly repeated question. At last they decided to play a trick, leaving off their slips just so they could say "no" when the inevitable question was asked. When Carrie uncharacteristically forgot to ask the perennial question, they had to volunteer that they had no slips on, and Carrie was much annoyed, even though it was a setup.
Carrie had a curious menu which was sometimes repeated when entertaining the girls' college friends. Waffles would be the basis for the meal, first with creamed chicken on top and then for dessert with syrup or strawberries!
When I was trying to pick out a Bach tune on the piano, she recognized the composer immediately and mentioned that she had played the violin as a girl. I did know that she accompanied Arthur on the piano to rehearse his Gridiron skits.
When Arthur attended the all-male Gridiron dinners, the members' wives would obviously all be left at home. Starting in 1933, Eleanor Roosevelt invited the wives of the members and of many of the guests to the White House for Gridiron widows' evenings! By 1935 these had become pretty well planned with skits of the same sort, but with perhaps less political bite. This did not keep Carrie from impersonating the Vice President at one of the affairs--John Nance Garner--even then a colorful curmudgeon. I can only wonder if she used his notorious comment that the Vice Presidency isn't worth a warm pitcher of spit!
Coming home from one of these nights, Carrie surprised her girls who had invited their college friends over for a party, and came marching up as some couples were necking on the steps.
Well into her seventies Carrie's activity was limited by strokes. On a visit about 1961, she got a phone call asking if she would be able to do some volunteer work for the church, probably All Souls Episcopal, and was amazed that they still had her on their active lists.