Being born and raised during the depression, my mother had experiences that I can only imagine, and that children of my generation would be hard put to live through and talk about as affectionately as she used to. As kids they enjoyed (?!) chewing tar balls from the road, a far cry from the minty freshness advertised with the Doublemint twins when I was younger. One of 7 children, she shared a bed with siblings and as an infant spent time cradled in a dresser drawer. In those days people made do with what they had.
Childhood trips to my grandmother's house were crazy, joyous occassions filled with laughter and the noise of extended family. With 20 + first cousins, we could raise a ruckus. The house itself elicits memories that I still treasure. Memories of visiting a place where time seemed to have stood still. Grandma's house had no working toilet until my parents were married. It was their gift to my grandparents as they wed, the gift being quite unexpected and so unlike today's couples, who fill wedding registries by scanning bar codes with a gun. Prior to that gift, the only "bathroom" was the outhouse in the side/back yard, off the kitchen. It stood as a symbol of perseverence, even after the advent of indoor plumbing. A sentinel in the yard, guarding times long past....minus the "necessary" Sears catalog.
There was no living room, we gathered instead in the parlor. The telephone was one very modern convenience, unique in that the rotary dial was on the bottom of a hand piece. It stood on the table in the parlor, and as children, we had an insatiable desire to pick it up, returning it quickly to the table when a voice on the party line was heard. The avocado green was all the rage, I'm sure, when the phone was installed. A far cry from today's cell phones, Skype, and Twitter!
A treat on our visits to Grandma's house was bathing in the antique, claw foot, iron tub. To a small(ish) child it seemed immense, and bathtime was more akin to swimming than actually bathing. I remember arguing with my sisters about who got to go first! Just the act of remembering makes me smile.
Made of thick stone, the summer kitchen adjoined the more modern kitchen at the rear of the house. I was always amazed that a house could have two kitchens. And two staircases. One in the front of the house and one in the back, along with a third set of stairs that went nowhere. Many times I would look at those stairs, my imagination running wild, creating reasons for their unusual presence. It was also a rare treat to be able to accompany Mom or Grandma into the musty, smelling basement, or ascend the steep stairs into the dusty, and somewhat spooky attic. On the nights I roomed in the bedroom that had the access door for the attic, I always swore I heard something up there!
As we reached our teens, visits to Grandma's house became less frequent as our young lives were crammed with school and activities that necessitated staying closer to home. The smells and sounds of the house, filled with such a large and loving family, are etched deeply and forever in my mind. My Grandparents had passed away many years ago, and more recently we have lost my Mom's twin, as well as her brother in law. Life in those days was not always easy, but it was so much more real.
The Great Depression forever changed people and families. But that's a story for another time.
A warm country hug to all!