When I was very little, before I went to school, we would occasionally get up very early, while it was still dark. My mom got us ready while my dad showered and shaved for work. The AM radio in the kitchen was tuned to WHDH, playing songs such as “Up, Up, and Away” and “Rose Garden” as well as traffic reports from Kevin O’Keefe. Our growing family of mom and dad and us four girls piled into my dad’s Plymouth Fury and we made our way to Grammy and Grampy’s.
Dad dropped us off before he headed to work for the day. We went in the side door of the two-story dark brown house with creamy yellow trim. The door opened to a kitchen so big we could have roller-skated in it. There was a large table at one end but a smaller table was set up for us kids. We got real orange juice, which we never had at home, and individual cereal boxes. The smell of the gas stove and coffee wafted through the air. In one corner was a sink that seemed disproportionately small for the enormous room. The ceiling was much higher than ours at home and the cabinets were taller than anyone could possibly reach. I loved the old-fashioned refrigerator with its rounded design and the sound it made when it closed. A pair of Dutch children ceramic wall hangings decorated one wall. At the far end was a somewhat mysterious closet where the whisk broom was kept.
The den was much smaller but just as charming as the kitchen. There were two chairs facing each other and we took turns sitting in the one that reclined. Grampy loved animals and we spent hours looking at a heavy book that seemed to have more animals in it than God had created. We were entranced with the dinosaurs since we had never seen them at the zoo. On the wall hung a real German cuckoo clock. And one corner housed a built-in armoire that had games in the bottom drawer, the most important being Scrabble, which Grammy would teach me to play when I was a little older.
There was a short hallway to the front door, which had a crank door bell and a mail slot. A small table with a bowl of wax fruit decorated the hallway. And the tiny bathroom was at the beginning of the hallway. The bathtub had no shower and was half under the slanted ceiling of the stairs that led to the landlord’s apartment. The sink had old fashioned handles and the bathroom smelled of Grammy’s Chantilly dusting powder.
The living room held the most old fashioned furniture I had ever seen: a formal couch, several chairs including wing chairs, a knick-knack shelf with a mirror in the middle, and a standing ashtray that Grampy used for his pipe. The TV was large but made a buzzing noise when it was turned on. When Grampy watched TV and saw animals, he’d call us kids in to see.
When my dad was done working, he’d come back and we’d eat supper before heading home. On the ride home I watched my shadow as it crossed the car each time we passed under a street light.
The memories are fuzzy because they are so old, but the feelings of love and comfort and safety and magic will live on in my heart forever.