I had a country grandma and a city grandma. City grandma was just grandma but my grandfather was “Poppy.” My older cousins called my grandma “mommie” but that didn’t sound right to me.
Grandma had a small trailer on the edge of my dad’s property. An extra room ran along the side of the trailer. They called that room the Cabana. There was also a small building in the yard, a wash house. That’s where they did their laundry.
Poppy had an artificial leg, that’s what they called it back then. It was pink with a slipper on the end and lots of straps at the top. Poppy often left the leg in a corner by the front door; it was only a few steps from his chair.
We had an aunt Noan who lived in New York City. She was a banker’s secretary and wore beautiful suits. Living in a small town, we just couldn’t imagine someone from our town living in New York. (And having a funny accent)
Every year she came to visit grandma for two weeks. While at grandma’s Noan wore old shirts, jeans rolled up to her knees and red shoes covered in paint. During her visit she would trim hedges and paint. Grandma had a bird bath with a little man perched on the rim holding a fishing pole. That bird bath had at least 40 coats of paint on it.
Because grandma lived at the end of an alley the postman wouldn’t deliver her mail. At the end of the street there was a stop light. The mailman would put her mail on the light pole and we would walk down every day and get it.
I also had an Aunt Lola who had a trailer beside grandma. Lola was bed ridden and blind. She liked to smoke but couldn’t do it unless someone was there to help her. I use to visit often. I couldn’t light regular matches so I used large wooden kitchen matches. I always wondered why Lola would lean way back into the pillows when I went to light her cigarette??? Being a kid when she gave me the cigarette to put out I always took a puff. She had to know. It was awful; I never did take up smoking.
My aunt Martha lived in a house next to ours. Her life revolved around doing house work. Monday was laundry, Tuesday mop floors, Wednesday wash windows…etc. I will never forget seeing Aunt Martha in her yard on her hands and knees with a pair of scissors. She had just finished mowing the grass and was trimming the high spots with the scissors. None of Martha’s enthusiasm or cleaning rubbed off on me.
A lot has changed over the years in our small town. Lola’s and grandma’s trailers are long gone. Both my dad’s and Aunt Martha’s houses are still there, but I do not know the people who live inside. For me, no matter who lives inside these homes, they will always be daddy’s and Martha’s houses.
By Nancy Stach