Thursday, November 21, 2013

Grandma Gets Rerun Over in This Blog

This is a rerun of a feature on "Grandma" Gatewood, whom I wrote about roughly a hundred years ago. <recalculating> Actually, it was 2003. It appeared on a (now defunct) content site for which I was the Ohio Guide. I see that look of awe on your face. Yes! And now you get to read it, right here! But wait, there's more...

I've been reviewing a lot of things I wrote back in the day, and decided (are you sitting down?) to compile some of them in a book. I'll publish using Amazon's CreateSpace, because if there's one thing the world needs more of, besides self-published books, it's a collection of snarky essays, right?

You're welcome.

But back to essays and writing them, since this is supposed to be a "writing blog" and all. As you're sure to notice, this ditty on Grandma Gatewood isn't an essay; it's an article. Factual is nice (I loves me my research) but there's no personal insight or thought-provocation going on here. I really need to fix that, but this post is a bit long already. So I'll add some enduring wisdom to the piece when I get a round tuit, and put it in the book, which will be available from Amazon sometime in December. In time for Christmas shopping, even!


In the meantime, the original post appears below. This one is for Maureen, who rightly noted "We really need to bring 'pantywaist' back to the insult table."

Good Ohio Grandma

When we sing, “over the river and through the woods, to Grandmother’s house we go…” most of us conjure up visions of a stereotypical grandmotherly figure, all round edges and special recipes. Not that there’s anything wrong with that – that describes my grandma pretty well, and I’m not interested in amending my memories, thank you.

But let’s remember that grandmas come in all shapes and boot sizes. Grandma Gatewood, for example, raised 11 children in southern Ohio in the early 1900. She also worked as a practical nurse and trained Peace Corps volunteers. And when she read that no woman had hiked the whole Appalachian Trail in a single season, she decided to be the first. She was 68.

She hiked the AT twice more before taking on the Oregon Trail in 1959, when she was 72. At age 75, she was still building trails in Ohio, some of which would become part of the Buckeye Trail.

Thanks to the vision and toil of Grandma and others, today we can go over the river and through the woods, indeed, on more than 1,280 miles of the Buckeye Trail, on foot. If you haven’t logged at least a few miles over the river and through the woods on foot, Grandma had a name for you: Pantywaist.

Fittingly, one of the most frequently-used portions of the trail, from Old Man’s Cave to Ash Cave in Hocking County, is dedicated to Grandma Gatewood.


This article first appeared on the long-defunct Suite 101 Ohio: People and Places page in 2003. Although I’ve logged a lot of miles on Ohio’s trails, including those between Old Man's Cave and Ash Cave. I’ve never built a trail, though, or trained a Peace Corps volunteer, so I suppose I could be labeled a “pantywaist.”


Unknown said...

Dear Diane,

Glad to see you're interested in keeping Grandma's memory alive -- so am I! To that end we at Eden Valley Enterprises have been working with WGTE/PBS (Toledo) and FilmAffects to document her life. So far we have a storytelling program with a companion e-book and DVD and a first-person character program completed (both programs are available for presentations for groups) and we are now working on the PBS documentary! You can find all the information at

Emma Gatewood was definitely NOT a pantywaist!

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