7Seven Things About Grandma Dowdell

“A Long Way From Chicago” and “A Year Down Yonder” are the books written by Richard Peck that feature the amazing Grandma Dowdell.  These books are set between 1929 and about 1945, they are a series of short stories told by Joey Dowdell in “A Long Way From Chicago” and Mary Alice in “A Year Down Yonder.

Joey in the first book gives the account of 5 summer break visits to rural Illinois where he and his little sister spend a couple of weeks with there rough and tough grandma.


Mary Alice gives the account of living with Grandma Dowdell for a whole school year at the age of 15 because her parents couldn’t afford her and Joey was away in the army.


Grandma Dowdell is an amazing character and here are 7seven things I have to say about her…

  1. Grandma Dowdell knows how to protect herself when the local teens go on a Halloween trick crime wave, or a bully follows her granddaughter home from school.  Grandma Dowdell is ready and waiting with pranks and life lessons that seem harsh but effective.
  2. Grandma Dowdell doesn’t let things go to waste, she can make a pie stretch farther than anyone, and if she is told she can have any pecans that are on the ground she makes sure there are more on the ground then in the trees.
  3. Grandma Dowdell cares about her community if there is a local fundraiser, or event in the struggling town she shows up and makes sure those who can give more give more, and those who can’t are blessed.  Even if that means serving catfish to drifters just outside the town line.
  4. Grandma Dowdell knows how to entertain, be it a funeral, or a DAR meeting she can create an unforgettable experience.  Although there is usually an unexpected show involved, be it a long lost relative or a almost resurrection.
  5. Grandma Dowdell can stretch a penny if she sees a way to get something for nothing she will.  Cheating the bank president out of a couple of bills for her grandkids, or posing as the pie contest winner to get a free plane ride for Joey.
  6. Grandma Dowdell is very smart she doesn’t allow anyone to think of her as just a simple minded country grandma.  She can out wit anyone, including a big city reporter and even the local law enforcement.
  7. Grandma Dowdell is sentimental when Joey’s troop train passes her little town she stands on her property waving, not knowing if he sees her or not, He does.  When Mary Alice is Mary in the Nativity she makes sure her costume out shines everyone’s.

I love these books and I love Grandma Dowdell, there are so many hilarious stories within these two small volumes.

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