Monday, May 19, 2014

Irish Gandfather and Polish Grandmother

         Somewhere between two and three, it seems that we were homeless for a while. First we lived with my Polish Grandmother in Wilmington, Delaware, and then with my Irish Grandfather in Chester, PA.

My Polish Grandfather, I never knew, but my Grandmother was one I could never talk to since my father forbade my mother and I to speak Polish at home. My time in grandma's house, was one of getting drops in my eyes every night and waking up every morning, my eyes glued shut,

I had to walk down the stairs carefully, to find my mother in the dining room.  She would then unglue my eyes with a wet cloth.  My Aunt Anna would fix chicken soup for us children and she gave us special bowls. Each bowl had a different story or poem in the bottom and we had to eat all the soup, so we could have the story read to us, until we finally could read them ourselves. The kitchen had a big black wood stove where the most wonderful food was cooked by my Aunt Anna.

My Grandmother, had a outhouse in back yard where the garden was. Next to the outhouse, a big grey wolf-like dog was on a very heavy chain.  Apparently, it was let loose during the night, but in the day time, we children were just warned to stay away from it.  The garden had vegetables and flowers all summer long.

          My Grandmother had a problem with her legs so she was in her bed in the dining room. She was able to greet people and be taken care of when no one came by. Gradually, she lost parts of her legs to gangrene over a period of time and finally, she died. Her casket was in the living room in the front of the house.  My aunt Anna did the cooking and other relatives and friends brought their food offerings.  We all took turns going into the front room to pray at her casket.

          Later we moved to my Grandfather's house, after my Grandmother there died. Her casket was also in their living room. A steady flow or people came and went. My Grandfather sat in his chair by the front window saying his rosary every day after that time, and sometimes my uncle Tony would sit in the other chair across from him. Many times, I would see them together that way.

          I remember learning to tie my shoelaces, sitting on the commode seat cover by the back window in the upstairs bathroom. The window was open since it was early spring and the peach trees in the back yard were in full bloom. [The bathroom was large compared to bathrooms today.] There was on one wall a strop for sharpening a flip-open razor for shaving. I vaguely remember getting spanked with the strop at least one time, but I must had done something I was not supposed to do.

          One day I was sitting with my mother downstairs in the dining room. A neighbor came to visit and gossip a bit. She told my mom that a man was in the field across the way exposing himself and she should be careful. It was then I learned that there were good men and bad men in the world. Never thought much about it though. But did remember that one should stay away from some men.

          The dining room had a vintage chandelier shade made of colored glass over the dining room table for many years, It was there even after I grew up and visited my uncles on my own.  I do not remember when my grandfather died. It must have been shortly after we moved into an apartment over a shoemaker shop nearby.

         Our doctor was next door To y and parents house, and he had a ugly, bowlegged dog, all white and brown. The dog was a nice dog though and we were never afraid of it. So I did get a lot of medical attention. Nevertheless, I was healthy and active. I remember trying to entertain my grandfather by standing on my head in the living room. I think I did it very well that time,. I had not learned at that time to use my arms as a brace for my head, as I did later, but I never did manage to stand on my head successfully again. I guess I needed a pillow for my head also.  [Live and learn, I guess was my motto at the time.]


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