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11/21/10

Hallway or Room of Choice

Prompt from January 24, 2009. Back to Grandmother's house we go.
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My grandmother's kitchen was small. There was a large table in the middle of the room, with eight to ten chairs around it. The table was sandwiched between two sideboards, I don't recall any cabinets. A huge wood burning cast iron stove anchored the room.
There was a pantry with a window off to the side, open to the kitchen. We took baths in the pantry in a galvanized tub, using water heated on the stove. Back then, this seemed novel and fun. Looking back I'm struck by how much work it was to do anything, even taking a bath.
On the other side of the kitchen was the room I slept in, a small living room of sorts. Her foot pedal operated sewing machine was in there, a small black and white TV set, where I remember watching Mighty Mouse.
There were piles of Field and Stream magazine which put the fear of rabid animals deep into my psyche.
That side of the house was low and the resident hound dog, Brownie, whose world was complete when we were there, could walk right up to the window and look in. He would bare his teeth in a doggie grin and wag his entire body starting with his tail and working forward. Waiting for me to get up so we could run through the woods together (and he would protect me from rabid foxes and skunks!).
I loved sleeping in that room, so close to the warmth and smells of the kitchen, covered in my grandmother's quilts. I used to sleep in the hallway, in the bed under the stairs, until my father told me some story about a snake coming up through a hole in the floorboard under that bed. True or not, it freaked me out and I never slept there again. I think one of my siblings did.
The L-shaped screened porch was where everyone hung out. It was on the shady side of the house and so much cooler. The chest freezer was out there and the top of the freezer was where the cakes lived. I always hoped to see my favorite - coconut. Sometimes there was Japanese Fruitcake (okay, but not my favorite), or caramel cake (also good, but again, not my favorite). Or there would be pie or maybe a fresh peach cobbler (second runner up!). A lot of the kitchen work - shucking corn, shelling peas or pecans, churning butter - was done out here.
Across from the kitchen door, to the right as you stepped onto the porch, was a long shelf that held an white enamel basin. Next to the basin was a wooden bucket with a gourd dipper. That was essentially the bathroom, since there was no running water in the house. It was where you washed your hands and face, brushed your teeth. The water was cold and sweet and delicious.
The dogs used to lay at the bottom of the hill where the water came out from the pipe attached to the basin. The dirt was cooler there. Sometimes when they were sleeping, we'd pour a dipper of water in the basin and watch them startle awake from the surprise bath. Harmless fun on the farm.
My grandmother had a play grocery store that I adored. She kept it in the attic and as soon as it was polite to ask for it, I did. I'd sit in the big formal living room on the braided rug in front of the fireplace and play for hours. There were a couple of carts, a grocer figure and at least one woman (smaller than Barbie), and stands to stack the tiny fruits and vegetables in. I was eleven the last time we were there and I played with that thing.
When I tired of the grocery store, I could sit on the front porch swing for hours by myself . (the budding introvert) Just looking and listening and thinking and noticing.

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