Peggy, Week 14: How I Became An Early Riser


My parents and siblings all wake up early, a habit I attribute to my Great-grandmother Polly Webb. She believed that early to bed and early to rise truly made you healthy, wealthy and wise.

Grandma Webb had both knees replaced in the early 1970’s. One knee was a cadaver knee, which meant it could still bend. The other knee was fused, and therefore, fixed in a straightened position. Grandma Webb was born in 1901. She grew up, on a farm, in the coalmining town of Scranton, Pa. She was considered an old maid, because she waited until she was 16 years old to marry.

If you were not downstairs by 5:30 a.m., 7 days a week—including Sundays—she would stand at the bottom of the stairs, and yell: “Peh-ggy! The sun’s a risin’. The day’s a waistin’. Time to get up!” The last of each phrase would be elevated an octave above her baseline.

If you didn’t arrive within a minute or two, she’d start to climb the stairs. You would hear a step and a clunk, as she brought the unbending knee up the stairs. She would call out again: “Peh-ggy! The sun’s a risin’. The days a waistin’. Time to get up!”

Usually, I complied within the first two calls, but every once and awhile, Grandma Webb would make it to the top of the stairs. The punishment for making her climb the stairs, with her bad knees, was a bucket of ice water thrown on you in bed. (Okay, maybe it was really a small glass of cold water from the bathroom according to my mother, but I remember it felt as if it was a bucket of ice water!)

What’s the harshest way anyone ever got you out of bed? Post a comment and tell me.