Monday, July 9, 2007

Something for Rose

Something flitted through my life yesterday that made me think of my grandmother we called Mammie. At 1604 she scrubbed and waxed the stairs to earn money to buy at least 12 grandchildren identical Christmas presents of the underwear kind. She wore shirtwaist house dresses and black clunky shoes size 10 with a quad A heel. Her hair was always carefully brushed and contained in a bun with a part on the side and a slight lift to the front before it was wound tightly into its bun then secured with hairpins and covered with a hairnet. I suppose the apartment was tiny, it was two rooms, a kitchen with her tiny white enamel table and her sturdy wooden box that she used as a stool. After she would wax the kitchen floor, she would cover it with newspaper to keep it clean. There was a dining section of the room with a table and chairs and one of those white metal cabinets where she kept our olives and our alka seltzer which Rose and I thought was a great treat. Alka Seltzer! I don't think we had much pop, so that must have been the lemony tingly thrill. Above that cabinet she hung a framed drawing of a horse I had done, it was so wonderful of her to do that for me. We could have a whole jar of those green olives with pimento as a treat. The tall skinny jar about the size of a 50 cent piece in diameter. WOW! those were the days! There was a "front" room with Papa's bed and Mammie's sofa bed where we slept with her when we stayed over.

The ice man actually still came to this apartment and carried blocks of ice up the back stairs. The bathroom was shared amongst the apartments on the floor and had a huge claw footed tub. My grandmother may have kept that clean, too. I think I remember four apartments on the floor. Everything was very dark. It was so much fun to get on the bus with Mammie and go downtown to Woolworth's. That special smell that Nancy Griffiths says smells like bubblegum on the bottom of a leather shoe ground into the wooden floors. She's right. My other grandmother took me to L.S. Ayres. Papa would come home from work, the machine shop, and throw his keys up to us from the sidewalk. He may have whistled. Papa was pretty scary and stern then once in a while he would surprise you. He took me downtown once and bought me a real drawing table--and a couple of learn to draw books by Walter Foster. It meant so much to me that they noticed my interest.

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