4000 Miles Grandma Stories

In the spirit of cross-generational relations, we asked a few cast members to share stories or descriptions of their grandparents...


My grandmother Beatrice Slette was the workhorse of a first-generation Norwegian family who had settled in the Coulee Region of northwestern Wisconsin. She was a farmer's wife who raised three children; canned yearly not only all the vegetables from her enormous garden, but also pigs, cows and chickens; got up before dawn to bake bread and make farm breakfasts for the family, plus a number of hired field hands; and in her spare time, graded eggs, supervised the incubators, and kept the books for the family's chicken hatchery. She died in 1985 at age 90.


I come from a family of fierce women who have raised me to be vocal about what I want and to take shit from no one. One day we ordered some pizza and the delivery guy showed up about an hour late. I braced myself for a confrontation. But lucky for him, it was my grandma who opened the door. "I couldn't find the place," the guy said breathlessly. She just stared at him a moment, nodded, took the box, and tipped him ten bucks extra. "What was that?" I asked afterward. She said simply: "He looked like he was having a bad day." What a revelation and a relief to know that fierceness does not preclude compassion!