Monday, March 06, 2006

Theme Wk. 7 Person

Mom was a 5 foot 2 inch dynamo who was a walking miracle. (And the 2 inches was a bit of a stretch. I don’t think she ever really got that tall.) When she was only 3 years old, she fell down the stairs in her kiddy car and broke her back. I suspect that emergency medical care in 1918 was not what it is today, but live she did. She spent years in a series of casts, and then a back brace well into high school, but it didn’t seem to slow her down. Nicknamed “Snooky” by her older brothers, after Baby Snooks, she was doted on by them and her parents. She loved to dance and sing and took much pride in being able to do the split, well into her 50s, even though she could never master a back bend. When she was a cheerleader in high school, she used to cheer standing on the balcony railing, while strapped to the support posts in the Town Hall. She attended hairdresser’s school, which she hated. “All those fussy old ladies who wanted finger waves in their greasy hair.” And Maine School of Commerce, before it was renamed, Husson College. She had a series of secretarial jobs before and after her marriage and then moved back to Brownville Junction to settle after Dad went to work for the railroad. Come spring, she didn’t just clean house, she went into battle against the winter dirt, complete with a plan of attack and a stack of egg salad sandwiches, so that she didn’t have to stop to fix lunch. She’d tear the whole house apart from the attic to the cellar. She scrubbed and painted walls, ceilings, dressers…and the year pink..another year green. She put up new curtains,. scrubbed Venetian blinds in the tub, painted closets…aired out the new season’s clothes.. She put tile on the bathroom walls, and installed flooring in the hall. She reupholstered furniture. She rebuilt one chair in the living room that apparently we sat in too heavily, because she took out the broken springs, and the first one to collapse (teen age style) into the chair met with a solid plywood seat under the fabric. One year she laid a wall to wall carpet in the very large living room…by herself… She had her own work bench in the cellar with her tools. You just never knew when she might decide that a new bookcase was needed somewhere, and she was the one to build it. There was never a craft project that she wouldn’t tackle. She once made a 5 foot Santa Claus out of vinyl upholstery material left from taking apart the benches in the breakfast nook. He hung on the peak of the house along with a wreath she made on a discarded hula hoop, for many Christmases before being done in by a rainy December.
Mom was a very talented artist who in a different time might have chosen a career in art. Her beautiful oils remain treasures in our family. She went through a “ceramic period”, when everyone in the family received ceramics for every holiday. If art was her interest, her passion was reading. She read anything and everything. A few times I cringed when I bought a book for her to read and when she finished she said “It was a little earthy.” No censorship for Mom…she’d just raise her eyebrows, and keep on reading. She loved to watch “McGiver” and later “ Murder She Wrote “ and “Diagnosis Murder.” Her grandchildren joked that "Mamie" wrote the screen play for Angela Lansbury.
When she died, I received a lovely letter from a former neighborhood friend, who called Mom a “fearsome little woman” which she surely was. She ruled with an iron hand, and all the kids in the neighborhood knew they’d better mind their manners around Snooky. She also said how much she had admired Mom as one of the only women she knew growing up, who “read real books”. Truly a compliment from this contemporary who ended up being an English teacher.


Blogger johngoldfine said...

Teh description of the spring house cleaning alone is worth the price of admission here. Only someone you love (or hate!) is worthy of that degree of attention and the reader senses the attraction and is pulled right along.

7:45 AM  

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