Grandma and Minnie

Grandma and Grandpa lived next to Minnie and Amalie in Austin, Texas.  Minnie and Amalie had immigrated from Mexico fairly recently and spoke very little English, but that didn’t hamper their friendship.  Grandma and Minnie had coffee every morning, chatting over recipes, patterns, housework, and their shared garden plot..  It didn’t matter that Grandma spoke not a word of Spanish and Minnie knew little English.  They’d check out each other’s tomatoes, peppers, and flowers, chattering like nobody’s business. Though I was a small child when we visited there, I remember fondly that Minnie trusted me push her pretty, black-eyed baby around the yard in her stroller.I was so proud to be a big girl.

Sometimes I followeed Grandpa and Amalie  around as they smoked hand-rollled cigarettes and worked at some project in the yard or dug in the garden.  One day they made me a chair by nailing two apple crates end-to-end.  I sat in that chair as long as I could squeeze into it.  I learned my first Spanish when Amalie hammered his finger and cursed in Spanish.  Though I didn’t know Spanish, cursing in any language is cursing. I admired cursing and was always on the  alert for a tasty tidbit, since I didn’t get to hear it at home.

I was intrigued at hearing Minnie and Amalie talk, my introduction to a foreign language.  I’d jabber along, thinking, I was speaking Spanish, stopping periodically to ask Grandma or Minnie to interpret what I’d said for me.I wish we all got on with our neighbors so well.  We shared a lovely meal of Grandma’s greens, pork chops and cornbread and Minnes’s tamales and beans one special evening.  I didn’t care much for the greens, but I’ll never forget the bite of Minnie’s spicy tortillas.

That was Good

 

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In 1950, the US population was less than 150 million, yet you knew more people
then, and knew them better…
And that was good.

The average annual salary was under $3,000, yet our parents could put some
of it away for a rainy day and still live a decent life…
And that was good.

A loaf of bread cost about 15 cents and it was safe for a five year old to
skate to the store and buy one…And that was good.
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Prime-Time meant I Love Lucy, Ozzie and Harriett, and Lassie. So nobody’d
ever heard of ratings or filters…And that was good.
We didn’t have air-conditioning, so the windows stayed up and half a dozen
mothers ran outside when you fell off your bike…
And that was good.

1950s 4

Your teacher was either Miss Matthews or Mr. Adkins, not  Ms. Becky or Mr. Dan.

The only hazardous material you knew about was a patch of grassburrs
around the light pole at the corner…
And that was good.

Most families needed only one job, meaning Mom was home when school
let out…
And that was good.

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You loved to climb into a fresh bed because sheets were dried on the
clothesline…
And that was good.

People generally lived in the same hometown with their relatives, so “child
care” meant grandparents or aunts and uncles…
And that was good.

Maw Maw by Car

TV was in black-and-white, but all outdoors was in glorious color…
And that was certainly good.

Your Dad knew how to adjust everybody’s carburetor, and the Dad next door
knew how to adjust all the TV knobs…
And that was very good.

Your grandma grew snap beans in the back yard and chickens behind the
garage…
And that was definitely good.

First Grade School Picture

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And just when you were about to do something really bad, chances were
you’d run into your Dad’s high school coach, or the nosy old lady from up
the street, or your little sister’s piano teacher, or somebody from church.
ALL of whom knew your parents’ phone number and YOUR first name…And that was good.
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Too Good To Be True!

Pots of flowersMother and I ran by the garden center while we were running errands today, as any right-thinking person would.  As I was strolling about, measuring the beauty of the flowers against the high cost of divorce, should I purchase any more this month, a miracle occurred.  One of the vendors walked up to me and asked if I liked flowers.  She cut me off before I really got started.  She lived at ——Jones Street.  She’d collected so many flowers she couldn’t take care of them.  They were all in her yard and on her porch.  Go by and get all I wanted.

“Is this a joke?  What if your neighbors see me loading flowers and call the police”

“Oh, that’s no problem.  Just take a picture of me and show it to them if they say anything, or tell them to call me.  It will be fine.”  That sounded reasonable.  I snapped her picture making the peace sign and sped to _______Jones Street.  The neighbors were on their doorstep watching us, probably wondering why they hadn’t been offered anything.  I showed them the lady’s picture, telling them she said we could have her plants.  They looked suspicious, but didn’t yell at us.  The plants were gorgeous.  She’d even started a couple of nice pineapples.  I was thrilled to get them when I noticed we were on ______Patterson Street.  We put all the plants back, explained to the neighbors, and took off.

We never did find ________Jones Street, but at least we haven’t been arrested, yet.  I’ll bet that woman in the garden center is still laughing.

Pooping with Brian

I got my daughter a Dalmatian for her thirteenth birthday.  I do believe that was one of the biggest mistakes of my life.  For about a day and a half, Annie was sweet.  As soon as she got her bearings,she became a hyperactive, maniacal buzz saw, plundering and eviscerating everything in her path from shoes to the rag top on my husband’s MG, but that’s a story for another post. Continue reading

Mother and the Rapist

Kathleen, my eighty-year old mother was snatched from sleep at three in the morning by the sound of hysterical screaming and pounding on her front door.  Through the peep hole, she recognized her neighbor, a frail, single mother clutching her toddler and tiny infant, begging to come in.  Mother was horrified to hear of Melinda’s rape at gunpoint, the lives of her tiny children threatened.  Nonetheless, Melissa called the police and an investigation was begun. Continue reading