Remembering grandma Luccolini



Ted Escobar

Ron Graham dropped by a few days ago to say hello. I’d seen him only occasionally after our high school days.

He graduated from Granger in 1962, one year ahead of me. His cousin, Merlin Graham, was in my class.

Ron and I chatted a little about where his brothers are now. After he left, I started to think about those times.

The two Graham families and mine lived near each other at the intersection of U.S. Highway 410 (VanBelle Road now) and Dekker Road.

Ron’s family lived west of what was then Shirley’s market on the north side of the highway. Merlin’s family lived south of the highway at the intersection.

We lived on the west side of Dekker Road, about a quarter-mile north from 410, in a home on John McMinimee’s property.

We were friends but not like close buddies. However, we were close enough that Ron’s dad Ernie came to my dad’s funeral in 2004. I was surprised he remembered all those years later, but I thanked him for honoring my father with his presence.

As it is with most people, my classmates and I didn’t keep track of each other after graduation. I had no idea Ron had left farming and went into real estate and banking in Western Washington.

His and his wife Dianne’s daughters went to college in Cheney. They liked the area so much they took up residence there.

That brought Ron and Dianne back to Eastern Washington. They now live in Cheney.

Speaking with Ron made me recall Merlin, who graduated with me in 1963. I knew he was living the retired life between Granger and Zillah.

I think the only time I saw him after high school was one evening at the Cherry Hill Family Fun Center about five years ago. Family and friends were celebrating his birthday with Doc’s Pizza. We spoke a few minutes before I had to get to the tee.

Friday, I found his number in the phone book, on the next line after Graham Construction. His wife, Linda (Underwood), answered the phone.

“No, he’s not available. He’s working,” she said.

Working? What does he do?


As in Graham Construction? Yes, she said.

I told her I’d been told 20 years ago that Merlin was retired. And I’d been told he had been a lineman or something like that.

“No, he’s been in construction all along,” she said. “He’s thought about retiring, but he’s still going strong.”

I remembered where Ernie farmed, but I’d forgotten where Bruce did. When Linda said, “Do you remember the Luccolini place?” I knew exactly where that was, across Highway 410 from Shirley’s Market.

And I also remembered Rsosalia Luccolini. Whenever we worked with or for John McMinimee, her son-in-law, we sometimes ended up on the farm ground around her home.

Rosie, as we knew her, was a small person in stature, but she was a giant of a human being. She wouldn’t let us leave her place until she gave us something to eat.

“That’s what Merlin said,” Linda said. “He talks about her often. He said he had lots of tea and cookies with her. He even says, ‘I wish you could make spaghetti like grandma made.”

Spaghetti? I never had the pleasure. Now I’m jealous of the special treatment Merlin had.

But that’s okay. Grandma Luccolini was a dear, dear lady. It was nice of Ron to bring her back to me in a roundabout way.


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