Byron remembers Grandma Sands as being "the meanest, ugliest person in the world", but Kenny knows that he is probably lying; Byron had only been four years old the last time he saw her. Like all the Watson children, Byron's imagination has played a huge role in the development of the image he has of his maternal grandmother. Although Byron swears that "he'd had nightmares for a couple of weeks after (the family) had left Alabama ten years ago", his recollection of Grandma Sands is in reality based as much upon hype as it is upon memory.
Grandma Sands's toughness is legendary in the Watson family, so by the time they roll up to her home in Alabama, Kenny is expecting to see "a troll...(someone) bigger than Dad...foaming at the mouth like she had rabies". Kenny as well as Byron and Joey are shocked when "a teeny-weeny, old, old, old woman that looked just like Momma would if someone shrank her down about five sizes and sucked all the juice out of her" appears to greet them. Kenny is convinced that his delinquent older brother would "destroy this poor old woman" in no time at all, yet it is soon evident that despite her small stature, Grandma Sands is a formidable woman who tolerates no nonsense. She immediately sets Byron straight, and Kenny is astonished to see his brother behaving like a model citizen before her, having capitulated "before the first punch (has been) thrown" (Chapter 11).