Hi, it's Carol and I am excited to introduce our guest blogger, Lynn Schneider, author of three novels including the recently released, Perigee Moon. Enjoy taking a trip down memory lane with her .
This is my first guest post. I'm intimidated! What should I write about? Should I write a post like I would for my own blog? Some of my posts are for mature audiences. Should I tailor my post to be more like 4 Broad Minds?
Okay. Deep breaths. I looked over the many insightful and moving posts done by the four women of 4 Broad Minds and decided I'd combine humor with boomer history and some of the quirky memories I'm sure we all have. When I looked back over my growing up years to recapture some of it, I found a lot of them had to do with my grandmother.
My grandmother was born in 1888 and was 30 when she married. My granddad was 44. That was old for back then. She was born in Liverpool, England and her family relocated to Passaic, New Jersey, though I don't remember why they picked that particular city. Her father was in Vaudeville, and she became an actress, although she played mostly young boy parts, due to her rather boyish figure. She never did make it to 100 pounds.
An actress back then (in the early 1900's) was looked down upon, not quite righteous, not quite seemly. Something to which, upon hearing of this particular occupation, a more genteel lady might have to raise a delicately-bordered-with-lace hanky to the general vicinity of her left nostril.
Granny met my grandfather, also a Vaudeville personality, they married and had two daughters, the second of which was my mother. They carted the first daughter around, putting her to sleep in a steamer trunk, until they decided that was not going to work too well, and besides my grandmother was about to deliver again.
They bought a farm. From Vaudeville to farming. Most likely they were more successful at Vaudeville but at farming, well, they sucked. Near starved to death. They gave it up and moved to town and rented an apartment. My granddad went to work in a factory. A nice compromise between the two north and south poles of The Stage vs. The Farm.
My parents married during WWII and around 1948 their first adventure in home-ownership was a boxy, mostly-ruined, partly-decayed, two-family house the color of liquid excreted waste on fresh snow. My father did his best to fix it up but really, it was one of those places where you might stand back and say, "You know, we might be better off startin' from scratch." It had one apartment down and one up, exactly the same floor plan. My grandparents moved in upstairs.
Eventually, we moved into a larger two-family house, a bit more upscale, the grandparents right along with us. Granny and my grandfather enjoyed a mostly chaste existence in their later years, separate bedrooms, separate social lives, that being mostly because my grandmother had one, (which consisted of wholly church-related activities), and he didn't. He had one glass of beer at dinner occasionally. She always had a sniff or two about that.
Granny liked to talk on the phone with her eyes closed. She could be heard to say, "My husband didn't believe in touching a woman for six months after a birth." She said this with satisfaction, as if somehow that was something admirable on her part. Was it that she had chosen well? That she had trained him well? I never really knew, because I wasn't supposed to be listening, so I couldn't ask.
She was a hard worker, didn't drive, never wore a pair of pants, never swore or smoked or drank. Surely not. After her Vaudeville days, which might have been rather "adventurous", she settled into a life of purity. She wore dresses with long sleeves, at least as far back as I can remember. Her shoes were sensible, her stockings thick and she always had a kleenex stuffed somewhere. She did her hair on those twisty things that look like knots, and as her hair got thinner and thinner, she had to wrap it around her head and put a hairnet on it.
If she spilled salt, that would cause bad luck, but if you threw some over your left shoulder then you'd have good luck. If your nose itched, it meant you'd kiss a fool. She said things like "Green January, full graveyard", "Red sky in morning, sailors take warning; red sky at night, sailors delight", and "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink."
Granny considered herself a God-fearing, religious, good woman. Unfortunately, she was the teensiest bit prejudiced. She'd say, "He's a [insert ethnicity, race, physical or mentally-challenged distinguishing characteristic, sexual orientation, etc.], but he's nice!" Note the "but" which kind of wipes out the good intentions.
My grandmother tsked about what disturbed her. She tsked about us kids plenty of times, but we didn't pay her much attention. Back then we didn't think what she thought was important. What we thought was that she was old-fashioned and bigoted.
Granny lived to the age of 98. Buried a few of us, she did.
Now of course, if I could have one afternoon with her like I did when I was a kid as we sat on her upstairs porch, or one Saturday night of Chinese Checkers with her like I did when I was a dateless teenager, I doubt I could be more entertained. I'd give anything if I'd listened to her stories more closely and if I'd kept her mementos closer to my heart.
A lot of my memories are blurry now. It's like watching a very old movie you've never forgotten, yet when you finally catch it on AMC, there's so much of it you didn't remember.
Lynn Schneider is the author of three women's fiction novels. She is a baby boomer, who writes stories about her generation. She spent thirty years in IT and is now retired to pursue her career in writing.
In her stories, she attempts to recapture the feelings, memorabilia and turbulence of the sixties and beyond. Whatever Happened to Lily? was published in February, 2010, Second Stories in January 2011, and Perigee Moon in May, 2012.
Lynn blogs at www.lynnschneiderbooks.com.
Amazon book link: