Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Grandparent(s) (04/03/08)
TITLE: Some Things Are Never Forgotten
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There was no plumbing so water had to be hand pumped at the kitchen sink, relying on muscle strength to draw the liquid up from an outside well. Bathing and hair shampooing was done in a nearby creek.
The bathroom was a two seated wooden structure that stood outside and away from the house. It took a lot of getting use to, not only for its inconvenience, but also for the unpleasant odors that were only partially masked by bottles of Lysol. Bees and flies found their way into the outhouse so a visit there was done as quickly as possible. During the night enamel pots were set up in the bedrooms. They were specifically designed and made to serve as covered waste buckets, for the sole purpose of saving us from having to venture outside into the night. Eventually we accepted this outdated relic as just another of the wonderful uniqueness of Grandpa's place.
The house belonged to my cousin Janet's paternal grandfather and I was invited to share it with the Andersen family during the summer of 1947. Uncle Chris, Janet's father, came only on weekends due to his work schedule. The rest of us, including my Aunt Margaret who was Janet's mother, and Butch, her younger brother, were there all week long. Aunt Margaret, whose name we Americanized from its Norwegian pronunciation of Tante Margit was the backbone of the vacation. She was the one who diligently spent much of her day working in the antiquated kitchen putting together her delicious meals. My one painful memory happened the day she served us a bowl of homemade cream of spinach soup which I had refused to eat. It was the only time I was reprimanded and then told I had to eat it whether I liked it or not. I remember sulking as Aunt Margaret stomped out to the kitchen and Janet, saddened by the event, quickly came to my aid by trying to switch her empty bowl for my full one as she whispered to me that she'd eat my unfinished soup. But, we weren't fast enough, as Aunt Margaret overheard our ploy and reappeared. Without saying a word, but wearing an expression of grave disappointment, she cleared away the bowls while we shamefully hung our heads and quietly slinked out of the room. The cream of spinach soup was never mentioned again.
Occasionally Janet and I shared a ride with Grandpa Andersen in his old antique vehicle known as a "Tin Lizzie". He proudly drove the noisy vehicle into town while curious pedestrians turned and stared at the sight of the white haired grandfather with the flowing mustache driving by with two happy teenaged girls laughing as they bumped along in the opened rumble seat. It was an unforgettable ride.
For entertainment we and some neighborhood friends would trudge down a very long dirt road past acres of farmland to a nearby creek. It was there that we played and swam. Someone's old wooden row boat rested on the sand and we would fool around with it without getting into trouble or finding ourselves floating too far from shore. An afternoon would slip by quickly and the trek back to Grandpa's house went much slower delivering three very contented and hungry youngsters.
At the end of the vacation, Uncle Chris drove us back to our homes in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. The car ride was unforgettable as the offensive odor of his cigar made me feel wretchedly carsick. If it wasn't for Aunt Margaret's ingenious knowledge of the healing power of green apples I believe I would have upchucked my morning meal. But, biting into that sour apple just calmed my stomach right down so that my distress ended and I was able to quickly recover.
The trip was long and we were all quiet and melancholy as we knew we had just left behind something very special, a summer of memories that wouldn't be replicated again.
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