Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Best Of Times

Growing up, I spent a lot of time with both my maternal and paternal grandparents. My mother worked and didn’t like leaving me alone, so off to grandma’s I’d go. On the train. It was a small train with only an engine, one passenger car and a caboose! Those who lived on its route called it The Doodle Bug. In those days, it was safe for parents to trust an employee of a train to see to it that their child was safe until he arrived at his destination. Besides, in this case, the conductor was a relative.

Both grandparents lived within a few miles of each other, so if I chose to visit my paternal grandparents, I’d get off the train there... but if I wanted to go a few miles farther and visit my maternal grandmother, I stayed on the train, waving at the first grandmother who was usually sitting on her porch in sight of the passing train. As I grew up, and even after I was grown, she often teased me about passing her by with a wave of my hand and going on to visit my “other” grandmother.

I have good memories of both places.

Grandma number one was an extraordinary woman. I loved her, but feared her just as much. I think everyone did. She didn’t mince words—said it like she felt it. All told, she had six children, though two of them died, one in infancy and the other in childhood.

Of the four that were left, my father was the eldest. He and his siblings toed the line. Every day, no matter what the season, they had to get out of bed early, wash-up and get dressed before breakfast. After eating, they’d start doing whatever chores had been assigned them. There would be no sluggards in this proud Irish family! No Siree!

When I was a child, I thought it strange that my dad always got up early and dressed for the day before breakfast when my mother and I loved staying in our pajamas, especially on weekends, until long after breakfast. I was a lounge lizard! Still am. I learned later that my dad didn’t really know how to do otherwise; it was the way he was raised.

Odd, the things we remember about those who played an important part in our young lives.

My grandmother liked coffee. Not just to drink – she also liked to eat it! I used to watch her go into her pantry, open the coffee canister and put a scoop of coffee into the palm of her hand. Then she’d eat it right out of her hand. I’ve never seen anyone else do that. It was a bizarre habit.

She also liked to kiss me on the lips. I hated it and would go out of my way to avoid getting close enough for her to grab me and give me a big smooch! Maybe it was the smell of the coffee. Who knows?

What I do know is – if things didn’t please me, I’d pack my suitcase, wait for The Doodle Bug’s next trip, wave good-bye as I boarded, and head for Grandma number two’s house for the rest of the summer!

Perhaps I inherited a little of Grandma number one’s grit.


Anonymous said...

What a great story, peggy! You did seem to have the best of times as a child. Lucky you. Some kids don't even know their grandmothers.

Jimbob said...

Love this. Is that the train you traveled on? good post.

sam said...

you had quite a childhood peg. your stories are great. how about a book of them. sam

Sarah said...

Nice, as always. You write so well. I enjoy reading what you write. Sarah