see part one here;
Before i finish the description of the house, I remember I always had a Dorothy Hamil haircut. My hair, fine and straight, could do nothing with it and when it got too long it just got stringy and tomboys don’t like to take care of their hair.
My hair had grown out to shoulder length, boys were now getting my attention more and I wanted to look like a girl. Aunt Gertie Gave me money to go to her hairdressers to get my hair done. They gave me a water perm, rolled it up but put no solution in it.
I loved it, I was mesmerized that my hair could look like this and to think, if I got a real perm, My hair could look this beautiful EVERY DAY! Thank you, Aunt Gertie!
Thus started my journey with permed hair, and i did that for 20+ years until about 5 years ago.
Ok, back to the house, down the cool hallway led to 2 rooms, one on the left was the family/living/TV room. In it was bookcases of books, on at least 3 of the four walls, filled, top to bottom, old plastic covered chairs and couch, TV and well placed rugs. Uncle Vic lived down there. When he was home the TV was on.
To the right was a workroom, much like a garage, with a work bench, tools hanging everywhere, lots cupboard space a tiny bathroom and a fridge where the good sweet drinks were kept, pop in bottles. I think Uncle Vic carved or made furniture, I will have to ask my mom what he did for a living. So many old tools, tinsnips, hammers, saws.
There was an old footlocker with toys in it, old toys, wooden and metal, every time we went we were again in awe of such wondrous toys. I wish I had those old toys.
Going upstairs was a totally different experience, a man made world down, the frilly old school touched by a woman upstairs.
At the top of the steep narrow stairs (Aunt Gertie fell down those stairs many times, I remember bruises all over her in different places, mom would gets calls to go over and help her or take her to the doctor)
To the left was the tiny kitchen, I remember wondering how anyone could cook in there, 2 people barely fit comfortably. in the far left corner was a booth with a small table, there sat Aunt Gertie with a small TV and a large ashtray. Always. i don’t remember cleaning much in there. but we would sit there when we visited, I remember the smell of smoke and pickles or whatever else she cooked that day.
Thru the kitchen to the grand dining room complete with china cabinets filled with china and crystal. Frilly tablecloths on the 8 place table, beautiful flowing curtains on the huge window. Like a movie scene, surreal. Climbing under the table to dust the chair legs, I remember just vaguely of dining in there with extended family.
Stepping into the next room was even better. The formal family room, complete with flowery patterned furniture, matching curtains, secretary desk. A window that you could sit on the ledge. No one frequented that room either. Except maybe to walk thru to the hall. Faint rumors that Aunt Gertie was a musical genius in her day resonate in my mind, the upright piano sat under a huge ornate mirror, the bench shoved full of music.
I tinkered on the piano often feeling at peace as I sat there. There are only a few places I felt safe/calm/at peace in my childhood and that was one of them and I remember being offered piano lessons at Gerties expense. I think my brother took her up on that offer.
I remember pink, pink everywhere. And books.
Right before the piano to the right was the hallway entrance which led to their separate bedrooms, hers was full of medical equipment, maybe an oxygen tank and his was masculine. I wasn’t allowed in his room, just hers and the bathroom.
Again, pink and frilly and very old style. fat pink rugs, flower shower curtain. Always lots of things to dust. Memories of their life I dusted for them.
Aunt Gertie passed away (I think she fell down the downstairs to her demise) and Uncle Vic had caught himself another bride in his eldest years, I went on to high school and off to Alaska, whenever i came home I drove by their house, mom kept me up to date on their lives. Uncle Vic is now long gone and I have no idea what the house looks like now.
Writing this makes me long to see it again, to show my son all the wonders I saw, to walk under the grapevines and make my own memories there.