Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Reaching Way Back

Maggie's post about her memories stirred up old ones of my own.

I only remember back to 5 years old with lots about kindergarten, giant blocks and playing store. I don't remember learning anything. I had a wonderful friend named Sheila Ainsworth and sometimes I went there after school. I think the reason I was because my mom had a baby about that time and stayed in the hospital a long time--10 days, back then. My dad would pick me up after work. Of course the baby was my little sister and my days of being a spoiled only child were over.

Sheila had a two-story playhouse in her back yard that once belonged to Shirley Temple. I don't remember much more about her or her mother, but I certainly remember that playhouse.

We lived in my grandmother's house in South Pasadena. My grandparents had another house in Bakersfield and I remember going there on the train by myself to visit them. I had a note around my neck that said where I was to get off. The train was crowded, lots of service men. That was back when you boarded the train at the Los Angeles station and it went all the way to Bakersfield--through all the tunnels in Tehachapi. (Only freight trains do that now.) My grandpa worked for the railroad so I'm sure the conducter had his instructions.

My parents bought a house in Los Angeles, close to Glendale (and not far from So. Pasadena) and my grandparents moved back to the house we'd been in. I loved my grandmother. She always wore a dress and her long hair braided and pinned up. She belonged to Eastern Star and had many evening gowns. (Some she let me try on even though they were yards too long.) I know she belonged to bridge clubs and entertained them at her house too. My grandfather always wore suits. He did take his jacket off sometimes. He drove a Hudson--and my dad said he drove it like a train, never looking to one side or the other.

Several summers, my grandparents spent two weeks at the beach renting several rooms at a hotel. We mom and my sister and I stayed with them for a few days each year. They always had an umbrella in the sand and sat on a blanket. And yes, grandmother still wore a dress, and silk stockings and my grandfather his suit.  Of course we kids played in the sand and the ocean--and wore bathing suits.

My grandma always bought me two dresses for my birthday. My mom would say, "Marilyn, don't beg your grandmother for anything. Only choose one dress." It never worked out that way because when I tried on dresses, it was grandma that couldn't choose. She always liked two and no matter how I protested, she'd buy them both. When she brought me home and I came in with two dresses, my mom would bawl me out no matter what Grandma or I would say.

Grandma never learned to drive, so when we went anywhere with her, grandpa was the driver. I remember her telling me to be sure and learn how to drive so I wouldn't have to be dependent on anyone. Good advice.

My grandparents have been gone for a long time, but as time goes on and I've grown nearly as old as she was when she passed away, I look in the mirror and see the resemblance to my grandmother.

And by the way, I remember my great-grandmother too. I am fortunate because my sister and my cousin have no recollection of her. She passed away when I was twelve. She was a widow and ran a boarding house. She was tiny and looked a lot like my grandma except she had snow white hair.

Thank you, Maggie, for being the trigger that brought back all these memories.

Me at 5.



  1. What wonderful memories, Marilyn! Thanks for sharing such vivid and interesting time with us!

  2. Great memories, Marilyn! Lovely and evocative!

  3. What wonderful memories you have. I would love to have seen California the way you did. Your grandmother was very wise, and her own person in many ways.