On a regular basis, Winnie eagerly climbed the fence two doors away to spend time with Butch and her poodles. I had many choices: I could visit with Alice and her father, Mr. W., and sit in the kitchen learning embroidery under Alice’s tutelage, or cross the street to visit Anastasia while she prepared the evening meal for her family of four. She liked having me visit because she had boys.
I could also venture up to Marian’s house and visit in the kitchen there, too, if her grandmother were visiting. Mrs. L would be cooking, and would still talk with us while she did. I never knew my own grandparents, so I often found others’ grandparents truly fascinating; I’d surmise just how my own grandmother might have fit in to the various personalities of the older ones I met. I liked Mrs. L. She had white hair and dressed like a grandmother.
The woman with reddish-tinted hair who rented the upstairs apartment was not my idea of a grandmother, yet she had several grandchildren. For sure, my grandmother would not have worn formals in which she had to stuff herself into them and ask neighbors (like my mother and me) to zip her up so she could attend the next installation at her club events! I found this wholly vile; of course, I was extremely opinionated at age eight regarding just how a grandmother should conduct herself. How would she hug her grandchildren if she wore scratchy formals???
But most of the time, I simply walked across the driveway to our Italian neighbors back door. They were like my second family, and I could sit on the kitchen stool, pour my heart out on all the serious issues facing me at so young an age while she finished preparing that night’s dinner, and wait until the mechanic came home from work; when he came through the kitchen door, I always got a big hug and kiss! He was always happy to have me around. I could even sit at the kitchen table and have a bite of dinner with them. I couldn’t eat so much that I wouldn’t be able to eat dinner when I returned home.
Hah! Like that was a problem for this food-loving little girl…