[gardeners] To Grandmother's House We'd Go.........

penny x stamm (gardeners@globalgarden.com)
Wed, 24 Nov 1999 14:22:23 -0500

	When the geese come barreling across the November
sky with their raucous honking, they bring with them bitter-sweet 
memories of my childhood holidays.  I step back in time to the days
when, over sixty years ago, as the eldest grandchild I would join 
the whole family for the double celebration of Thanksgiving Day and
my grandparents'  wedding anniversary.

	I remember how excited I would be when we arrived at
Grandma's big apartment on West End Avenue where my dad had
grown up.  The weather would be windy and cold, but I would be 
warm in a slate-blue woolen coat and leggings and a hat tied under
the chin.  Underneath I'd be wearing a burgundy velveteen party dress
with a line of buttons down the front, white lisle stockings to the knee,
and my shiny black patent  leather shoes which fastened with a
button hook.  Best of all, I carried a white fur muff.

	I was sure Grandma Sarah must have always had white 
hair and rosy cheeks, and I thought she was the greatest cook in
the world.  She never served us liver and tongue and succotash, like
my mom.  No, she set a table with everyone's favorites.  My dad 
wouldn't eat cauliflower, so he got peas, and Uncle Harry craved
raw sauerkraut, so a big, luscious bowlful would be placed on the
table.  There'd be a platter of potted meatballs, juicy and fragrant 
delectables which I adored.  And there were parsley new potatoes 
for Uncle Harold's delicate digestion.  I would help myself to a slice
of fresh sour rye bread, and breaking off a corner as I knew  my dad
would want me to do, I'd spread it with a little bit of sweet butter and 
pop it into my mouth.  Aunt Helen sat next to me and she always 
made sure I could reach the dishes that I loved the best. 

	I can see Grandma fussing in the kitchen, stirring the
food in the big pots with a long-handled spoon, and telling the cook,
for the hundredth time, what to do next.  And then the crowning touch
of the day, the enormous stiff-chested turkey would be carried in, 
along with the dish of fragrant stuffing and the gravy boat.  Aunt Bea 
would always be saying, "Now, Momma, sit down and stop working 
so hard!"

	Funny how children never misbehaved at Grandma's
house.  After dinner, Grandpa Mike would lead us to the parlor and,
sitting down in his winged-back chair, he would light up his big
cigar.  Uncle Harry, the slight-of-hand artist, would ask someone 
for a penny, and then slide it through his fingers as if it were led by 
a string.  I remember begging him to do it "just once more!" so I
could master the trick, and he would chuckle and send the penny
off again.  Or he'd pull a paper match stick out of my ear, and I'd be

	Someone would always prompt Uncle Gus to name the
capitals of all the 48 states, and he would rattle them off while we
children counted on our fingers.  His was another kind of magic, 
being a walking encyclopedia, and I promised myself that when I
grew up, right after I had learned the Morse Code, I would 
memorize the capitals of all those United States.

	My little cousin Enid usually got the floor next, to recite 
some poem she had memorized for the occasion, and her brother, 
Little Harry, always seemed to need to go to the bathroom at that
time.  We girls all thought that it must be because he was a boy.

	Then someone would put a Caruso record on the 
gramophone, and everyone would sit quietly and listen to a strange
voice which seemed to come out of a tin can.  How lucky Grandma 
and Grandpa were to have such a miraculous machine!

	Surely Thanksgiving Day meant food and family and 
happiness to me...

	But the time came when the growing family made the big 
table far too crowded.  My little sister June and cousin Judy demanded
places of their own,  with a fork and a spoon and a tumbler, too, just 
like the grownups.  So Grandma Sarah set up a bridge table for the
children, and we were banished from the world of the adults.  Grandma
tried psychology to keep me from pouting:  I would be "in charge" of
the little ones, and could set a good example, but it didn't work.  I
looking longingly at the big table, for I hated the bridge table with 
passion, and I swore to the secret God who heard my prayers at night 
that when I grew up, there would never be a bridge table at my holiday

	For several years after this, my holiday pleasure was
dampened.  The meatballs tasted just as good as I always 
remembered them, but my lower standing in the family was a difficult
cross to bear.  Yet the day did finally arrive when another cousin was to
sit in my place, and they made room for me back with the grownups. 

	A whole brass band couldn't have created more excitement 
in my heart as I marched the younger ones around the room and right 
into their seats at the bridge table.  I helped each one up onto a chair,

and then carefully pushed them in, for after all, now I was in a
world from them.  I remember walking with dignity to my place next to
Uncle Harry and the sauerkraut, and nobody knew I was already saying
my prayers for the day, and thanking Someone for remembering that I
wanted this more than anything else on earth that a nine-year-old
could ask for.    

Penny Stamm, NY