Clara Maria Granados Rey
(name at birth following the Spanish naming convention)

Clara Maria Granados was born on September 1, 1909 in Seville, Spain. She came to America at the age of two with her Mother, Maria Concepcion, brother Luis, and sisters Rose and Connie.

Clara died peacefully in the early morning hours of June 19, 2003 at her second home in Deale Beach, MD, at the age of 93.

Memories of Mom

Mother was born on September 1, 1909, in Seville, Spain. She came to America at the age of two with her mother, brother Luis, and sisters Rose and Connie. She died peacefully in the early morning hours of June 19, 2003, at her second home in Deale Beach, Maryland, at the age of 93.

In February 1918 when she was nine years old, she moved to Riverdale, Maryland, with her parents and siblings . Mother lived in Riverdale until her late 80s when she found it necessary to move to the Deale Beach house because it had no stairs.

Mom remembered attending third grade at the little red schoolhouse next to the Calvert Mansion in Riverdale. Some days were so cold that she and the other children went down to the furnace room and huddled around the stove. When the great flu epidemic struck in 1918 many people died, including her third-grade teacher.

Her future husband, Charles Howard Koch, also lived in Riverdale with his family. Charles’ sister, Gladys, and Mother were classmates. Because he was a year older, she was well aware of his existence. Their relationship did not blossom until 1928. About that time they began to drive to work together in Washington, D.C. in Charlie’s car. On weekends he played banjo in a small band and she accompanied him to the dance halls along the Chesapeake Bay and the surrounding area to hear his band play and to dance. She married Charlie on January 21, 1930.

When Mom and Dad married, her parents approved but some of her family members did not because Dad was Protestant. Their oldest children, Clara and Carl, were staying in their grandfather’s home in Riverdale while Mother was in the hospital giving birth to Barbara. While she was in the hospital, her father died and Clara and Carl were returned to their home on Charlotte Avenue in the care of Aunt Beano. They were never again welcomed to visit their grandfather’s house. In fact, Mother’s name was not included in her father’s obituary (Evening Star, June 23, 1937). The same omission occurred in her brother Luis’ obituary in 1992. About a year before she died it was suggested that she might like to make contact with the church. With fiery eyes, her answer was a resounding "NO".

Charlie and Clara had four children: Clara, a retired comptroller/business woman in Bradenton, Florida; Carl, a retired university professor in Annapolis, Maryland; Barbara, a private piano teacher and faculty wife in Lincoln, Nebraska; and Charles, a law professor at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.

When they first married, Mother and Dad rented a house in Riverdale. When she became pregnant with Clara, Mom stopped working, giving her additional time to spend with her own mother. They would usually visit at lunchtime but on one rare occasion the two of them went to downtown Washington to buy baby clothes and see a movie. Mother and some of her siblings tried to accumulate enough money to send their mother to visit her former home in Spain. It bothered our Mom for the rest of her life that the dream of sending “Abuela” to Spain was never fulfilled.

Later that year, Mom and Dad moved to 6120 58th Avenue (formally Charlotte Avenue) in Riverdale Heights to a house just a few doors away from Charlie’s brother, Will. Mom’s brother and wife, Ramon and Kitty, moved to a house nearby on Quintana Street. Her brothers and sister, Johnny, Beano and Tony, would often visit when in the area. Rose’s daughters, Dolores [Hagerty] and Shirley, spent the night there in a pinch as did Lola’s daughters, Dolores and Donna.

Riverdale Heights was an unincorporated town and the volunteer fire department was the center of civic activity. Ramon was the Chief; Charlie was usually the Assistant Chief. He also taught courses in fire fighting, first aid and civil defense. Mother belonged to the ladies’ auxiliary and helped with social functions. A photo of the annual dinner of the Riverdale Heights Volunteer Fire Department for 1945 showed five of the ten first-generation Granados siblings in attendance. They were: Ramon and Kitty, Clara and Charles, Connie and Arthur, Beano, and Tony in his Marine Corps uniform.

Mother and Dad had many friends in Riverdale Heights. They frequently played cards and had coffee gatherings. They always had a vegetable garden and raised chickens for eggs. We loved the fresh eggs but when a hen stopped laying, it became Sunday dinner. Mom also regularly made jelly from the available fruit. Once she started to crochet a dress for Barbara. A problem arose because Barbara grew faster than Mom could crochet. When Mom did catch up, the dress had a very long skirt.

The house had one big grate in the center for heat. Coal would be delivered to the basement through a window. Barbara remembers that on cold mornings while Dad was dressing for work, Mom would go to the basement in order to stoke the furnace . There were only two bedrooms in the house so the four children slept together in one of them. Dad finally built a small bedroom in the attic for Carl.

When Dad was gone in the evening, Mother and the children would gather around the radio for Lux Radio Theater, the Judy Canova Show, and other popular programs. Occasionally Carl would be sent to Patrick’s Drugstore for candy. Mother’s favorites seemed to be Baby Ruth and Butterfinger. There was a frequently used wind-up Victrola and records in the home. Mother was also fond of “Taylor’s” ham and sometimes fried bananas for herself after everyone else was in bed.

In 1948 they moved to 4711 Ravenswood Rd. in Riverdale in a house formerly owned by Charlie’s sister, Helen. They were not involved in the fire department there nor did they develop the strong lifelong relationships with neighbors as they had in Riverdale Heights. Perhaps the relationships forged during a depression and a war were not easily duplicated under normal circumstances.

When the children matured and left home one by one, Mother returned to the work force; first, at the High’s Store [a 5 and Dime] in downtown Hyattsville. When Prince Georges Plaza opened she took a job at the hosiery counter in Hecht’s Department Store. This placed her in sight of the entrance and she was able to visit with old friends and relatives. She loved that. During these twenty years, we suspect that she knew everything that was happening in the northern half of Prince Georges County. She often walked to work (a long walk), because she did not drive.

She was very proud of her Charlie. Without a high school education Dad began his career as a union linotype operator at a local press and then at the Government Printing Office but retired as a permanent staff member of the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives . He taught a variety of courses for the University of Maryland Extension Service and, until his late eighties, played tennis regularly.

Mom was intensely devoted to Dad, and she thought he could do anything. They took camping vacations so Dad could fish. Several of their grandchildren remember camping with them along the Pocomoke River. Eventually (1964) they built a cottage at Deale Beach, Maryland, where they enjoyed their summers crabbing and talking to the neighbors. Eventually this house became their principal residence.

Mom had beautiful hands and nails and remained surprisingly young looking. Well into her fifth decade people were incredulous to find out that she was a grandmother. She always had that excellent soft and supple Granados skin. She had sparkling dark brown eyes, a ready smile and an expressive personality. Mother was a breast cancer survivor. In 1958 she had a radical mastectomy but no further problems developed. In later years she suffered from surgeries to her knees and shoulder.

Mom made wonderful crab cakes and we enjoyed them as often as possible. Dad had a live-box for soft shell crabs but we seldom were able to persuade him to share them. The family loved to meet Dad at the Bay to check the crab pots and bring in the blue crabs. Mom would wash them off, steam them, heap them on the table on the porch and we would eat until we were stuffed. They were so delectable. One time the crabs got out of the pot and started running all over the kitchen causing much screaming and laughter.

After her children were gone she began to watch sports intently with
Dad. She was a Washington Bullets [now the Washington Wizards] fan and her favorite players were Kevin Greevy and Mitch Kupchak. Mother and Dad also watched the Baltimore Orioles, the Washington Redskins, and the University of Maryland basketball and football teams.

Mom had little desire to travel since her family and home were the most important part of her life. They did go to St. Petersburg Beach, Florida, every winter for about 25 years. Often, they would visit Aunt Rose and her daughter Dolores Hagerty while there. They traveled with Clara and her daughter Carol into Canada, down the West Coast (visiting Clara’s daughter Ellen in California) and across the South to home in 1978. They traveled to Germany with Barbara and her husband, Ben, in 1987. Dad had an intense desire to go to Germany and she gamely accompanied him.

When Mom died on June 19, 2003, her ashes were scattered at Dad’s favorite fishing spot on the Chesapeake Bay where his ashes had been previously scattered. She never dreamed of outliving her Charlie but she did, by nearly 5 years. To her last day, she missed him terribly.


Granddaughter Carol Claeys Hagerman, daughter of Clara Koch Claeys, writes: I spent a lot of time with my grandmother in Riverdale and Deale. When I was very young, Grandmother and I would run up to the railroad tracks in Riverdale and count the cars as they went by until the end of the train. This is how I learned to count. We often walked to Prince Georges Plaza--a very long walk.

I remember my Grandmother brushing my hair every night, counting with every stroke until each tangle was gone. I also remember her as always encouraging, saying "you can do anything that you put your mind to." Grandma made me feel very special and unique when I was with her and I love her very much.

We went to many functions at the Deale Beach Community Center and attended many bingo games. We rode our bikes together all around Deale Beach.

Grandmother liked to tell the story of when we were left in charge of the soft shell crabs while Grandpa was gone overnight. We went to check the crabs as instructed. One time while checking the crabs at night, the flashlight dropped into the Bay. We could see the light under the water. I grabbed a net and fished it out. Grandmother wanted to dry it out so she put it into a warm oven. We then had a melted flashlight.

Granddaughter Anne Rader (m. Ken Gatter), daughter of Barbara Koch Rader, says: I remember my grandparents visiting us in Lincoln, Nebraska, after Granddad retired in the mid ‘70s . My fondest memory is of my grandmother taking me on a long walk to get ice cream at the Baskin Robbins store. We both loved ice cream!

Grandson Steve Rader, Barbara’s son, writes: Sometime (in my pre-teens?) I visited at the Beach Place by myself. I recall that Grandma Koch would force me to take an afternoon nap (I thought I was too old) and then she would treat me to a cold root beer afterwards. I'm not sure if those naps were for her benefit or mine.

I also distinctly remember Grandma once pulling in a stingray when we all went fishing. I don't think I had ever seen her get agitated--she was "cool as a cucumber"--but this stingray caused her to go into absolute hysterics. She screamed at "Daddy" (Grandpa) to knockout that stingray before someone got stung. It wasn't even in the boat. I wonder how many times that scenario played out.

Prior to that visit, when I was much younger, we went for a walk in the Beach Place neighborhood. I walked right into an open sewer ditch! I didn't realize the lush green on top was a mat of algae. Grandma had me strip naked, and hosed me down with the harsh cold water from a garden hose. She thought the whole affair was very amusing. I think she often retold that story (at least to me!) in a truly loving way.

Koch Family 1978




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