Author Topic: Me from very young to about 7 years..I think!  (Read 1503 times)

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Me from very young to about 7 years..I think!
« on: July 19, 2007, 01:28:35 am »
Part III, The Memories Come Back In Detail!

Moving to Connecticut, late start for grammar school. Fall 1953

It was downtown windows shopping in New London, Connecticut where I was dressed in somewhat somber colors, for the season was late Fall and the cold winds were whistling around the streets with a threat of snow on their breath. Since it was well past Labor Day, I had on white and liver-colored Buster Brown saddle shoes with small bells on the laces and brown leggings that itched because of the wool from which they were made.  My little legs were warm, hot even as we stood in front of Bamberger's Department store, mom looking at shoes I think and me just looking at my reflection in the tall glass show windows.

Wearing a dark brown car coat with the twist toggle buttons that looked like little wooden footballs holding the coat halves together, underneath that was a brown suede collar was a hint of frilly lace that surrounded my throat and if one saw me with my coat opened, that same lace went down the front of my blouse as reinforcement for the button holes that were filled with real Florida Conch shell buttons. Of course under that was my required camisole with the silkiness next to my skin that I had grown to take for normal attire.

Further down, the panties were now a little more sedate with the “Rumba Lace” gone, but finer keyhole lace went all around the legs and around the elastic waist. On my head was a knitted cap with a multicolored pattern that I believe was twisted into the yarn, not so much added to the material as it was a haphazard and not really a pattern at all. It tied under my chin with a pair of strings and a hollow slide that I was constantly pulling up and down, making my chin a little raw from the “eternal fidgeting”, as my grandmother said.

My blonde ringlets of hair were peeking out from the sides and back of that hat and they blew across my face as the wind shoved them around. My bangs had been grown long for the new hairstyle I was wearing, so my bangs never got into my eyes.I tried to put my back to the wind but I was there to look in the windows and that offered me little chance to turn the right direction to keep the rest of my hair out of my eyes and mouth. I could smell the Lavender shampoo that had been used on my hair, and with the Lavender conditioner, I made a lasting aroma for me that to this day I still remember fondly. My hair by now had been trimmed a little, but yet still could be combed down to the middle of my back when it wasn't curled or permed so tightly as it was now.
Mother had given me a “Toni” which was a little girl's home permanent hairdo to curl my hair like that of Shirley Temple; it was all the rage to look that way in those days and I was not exempt of the latest trends and foibles. I like the results, but the chemicals smelled very bad so mom used the Lavender scents on my hair to make a prettier smell. 

My grandmother, who was with us on this shopping trip, from my mother's side of the family was Irish-English from the poorest of families and was always slapping my painted nails with her hand if she thought I was making too much commotion, as no such childish mannerisms would be tolerated and I was supposed to be a very adult-like. From her school of manners she was taught that children were just little adults and they were expected to behave as such. Children were to be seen and not heard, then to answer with “Yes” or “Coming” as required by the moment. I was usually on her angry side as I had been raised a little less adult-like, instead being treated as a fragile young girl who should never stay in the background, but hide in plain sight. I was an effrontery to her on more than that single level I think. Coddling a child no matter the sex or age, was not to be done.

The sky seemed to darken and about the same time as I felt it, I also saw it! A tall walking peanut with a top hat and black high top shoes and a cane. It was Mr. Peanut and he was standing right behind me as I saw his reflection towering over me looking like a monster. I screamed and started to cry as that was the only reaction I could muster. My legs would not move and my hands were trembling as tears were hitting the sidewalk next to my Buster Browns. He swooped me up into his arms trying to console me, but of course this made things even worse as my screaming rose another octave and several magnitudes in volume, attracting a large and growing larger crowd of adults and bigger kids with their parents on the same street.

The trauma of this incident is (maybe?) linked to the Mr. Blue event with the  decapitation of that thief in the marketplace of Havana. I don't know if my mind thought all that through as quickly as I seem to remember it now, but it fits and to this day I cannot eat Planter's Peanuts in any form if that nasty Mr. Peanut is in on the label; seeing him makes me relive the whole event again.

So, I guess my grandmother was also with us as we shopped for things which I was to wear for my introduction in Old Lyme in the middle of the semester. There was a lot of fitting, both clothes and me, as my grandmother had a way of squeezing my hands with my fingers crossed to make me obey her demands for comportment and delicacy of a young girl I was trying to be. For her approval...somehow missing on all fronts in that endeavor, I tried to obey but her requirements were so strange to me.

Tears ran down my face almost all day with her towing me around rather forcefully and with secret acts of meanness and a very unmoving face; all that was missing was her broom and a little dog named Toto to make the scene complete. I don't even want to talk about that movie either!

We tried on frilly dresses which met with vapid disapproval from good ol' grandma as she said I'd be showing all my “delicacies” to the rest of the world as I would be sitting in my desk at school, and she was probably right. Mother wanted to keep me in frills and swirls of lace and frippery to keep my image, as I see it now, excessively female so there'd be no questions on my genetics for anyone to second guess.

Grandma won most “discussions” which were not quite out of earshot for me. I knew I was the object of these loud whispers, and although I didn't have any input in them, I got to be a little less a China doll and more of a little girl on her way to...wherever it was I was going. She wanted me to grow a little more and get out from her daughter's freakish control. Too bad she also thought of me as an enemy too, she could have been a little nicer to me and I'd have warmed up to her a lot. She was a tough little lady with a bad Irish-Welsh attitude..the worst of both worlds.

After this day of shopping we would likely have some sort of light meal and maybe even a treat at Woolworth's Department store. They had a huge candy counter that went all the way around four sides and there they had about every kind of candy in the world. I always wanted those big red buttons that were chewy and soft and cherry flavored and with a nickel's worth of them, I could very well call it a full day.

Since we were visiting my mother's rather large Catholic-Irish family, there had to be a lot more sweets to take home for all of them to share. We bought more shoe buttons, licorice and chocolate turtles and some root beer kegs. I don't ever remember seeing that much candy in my whole life before and I wasn't allowed to have any but a sample of one of the root beer kegs. I showed my mom how they resembled my coat buttons and she just stared at me for a minute and stood back upright and we went on about our shopping business.

Once we got home to our own home, mom was going to get me enrolled in school, but this next week was a visit and I had to sleep in my grandmother's very high post bed. It was traditional for all the unmarried women to sleep in the same bed with their mother, as it was the same custom that had all the unmarried males in the family do the same thing sleeping with their father. Seems to me that this was a great incentive to get married and move out of your parents' beds sooner rather than later. Maybe it was to help conserve heat and fuel, but this wasn't Europe or the Arctic and I later thought this was just silly and a bad idea.

Sleeping with older unmarried women isn't for the faint at heart. There's slips, corsets, bustiers, girdles, nylons and garters and all-in-ones that perform all the above mentioned functions.  There's nylon and rayon and silk and taffeta and crinolines and shoes..lots of shoes. There's hand washed wet bras and slips drying on the tops or doors, shoes all over the floor and garters to trip you if the spike heels don't.

Suffice it to say that this was, if not an eye-opener, then it was a voyeur's dream. Since I was so young, and I never thought that I was any different from these women, it never dawned on me to think I was getting an eyeful. My aunts and even a girlfriend on occasion would be in almost any form of undress at least twenty-three of twenty-four hours. There were two beds really in the room. One, the tallest and softest was my grandmother's, and on it she slept with me  and the other women slept on the lower bed that was harder and good for their backs..that's what I was told anyway.

If you've never slept with a woman who for all appearances was three hundred years older than you were, you've missed one of the worst things that can happen to you. She snored. She sweat. She smelled like perspiration. She slept with her mouth wide open; her eyes never fully closed. She had very cold, bony feet.

Now, the underwear was OK; the gobs of breasts and thighs and buttocks were also OK. I knew that I'd be like them someday but I hoped to heaven that I'd never look like the old woman...I thought she'd been born that old and gnarled and stringy and smelly and that was what she'd always be for eternity. Old age escaped my capacity to comprehend at that point and that was very good or I'd want to do a Peter Pan.

I kept my smaller wardrobe in a couple of cardboard boxes that were along the wall under the only window that aired and lighted the room. Thankfully this visit was for only a few more days and then on to our new home in Old Lyme, Connecticut. My newest clothes were to stay in the bags and they'd not be worn until I actually entered my new school.

I have more to tell, and I hope this is OK to post here, but I don't have a blog yet.