29 Jul 2015, 5:54am
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Rainy Days At Nana’s

WWG prompt:  happy childhood memory (890 words)

Rainy Days At Nana’s

By Kate Chamberlin

July 20, 2015

 

I.

Zither with three loose strings…Dismantled metal spindle bedstead against the south wall…Sturdy wooden framed portraits of very stern ancestors against the north wall…antique, wooden spindle cradle with real rubber wheels…Crumbling cardboard boxes with relics from generations of a Connecticut family…Watery light through small, filthy windows near the roof ridge.

Sunny days at Nana and Pappy’s bode long hours in the salty, liquid air at Sasco Beach, munching on picnic lunches, building sand castles with  moats, and exploring the wildlife trapped by low tide in the watery nooks of the huge boulders of the barrier breaks extending into Long Island Sound.

Rainy days meant pestering our Grandmother during breakfast on the dank porch amidst the fragrance of bacon, scrambled eggs, and brewed coffee to let us up into the warm, dry attic to play.  After our morning chores were complete, she’d carry the wobbly kitchen step-stool up to the second story hallway, slide the ceiling panel aside, and pull down the heavy old wooden ladder.

Although my Connecticut Yankee Grandmother never faltered, my parents “modernized” the ceremony of letting down the ladder, by installing a large panel with a rope pull. the spring-loaded attached ladder could then be unfolded and safe access to the attic was a sure thing.

The roof ridge pole was so low, only children of a certain age could stand up straight without cracking their heads, so, The adults rarely entered into the fantasy world of the antiquated attic of the enhanced 1832 Salt Box home .

My brother, our cousins, and I would spend hours in creating games of our own design. It thoroughly shocked us, when an adult head would pop-up through the attic access to summon us down to lunch. We didn’t even know we were hungry!

II.

Dusty, Chevy back seat…Short ride to parking lot…Long walk to theater…Musty Theater seats…Ice cream Parlor treats.

After lunch on rainy days, amidst squeals of laughter, we’d pile into the back seat of Nana’s ancient Chevy. Despite the humidity outside, the fabric-covered seats smelled of age and dry dust, which made us sneeze and want to wind down the windows. We were off to the theater to see a “moving picture”, as Nana called it. The parking lot she used was a long, wet walk from the theater, although, there was a parking lot right next to the theater. It felt so mischievous to “accidentally” stomp into a puddle to see who got whom the wettest.

 

She often told us how the theater attracted the wrong kind of people. We had to stay together and not talk to anyone else. Sometimes, my cousins took so long to choose which candy or popcorn they wanted, they made us almost miss the opening of the movie. My favorite snack never changed. I always quickly chose a small pink and white box of “Good ‘N Plenty” candy. Nana always insisted we sit in the middle of the middle row as close to the middle of the theater as she could get us.

During the walk back to the parking lot, the method of her madness manifested itself. She always pretended to be surprised to find we’re passing an ice cream parlor.  We’d troop in and sit at tables with wire backed chairs sporting red plastic cushions. Oblivious to the hub bub of the busy ice cream parlor, I savored every lick of the peppermint ice cream atop the crunchy sugar cone in my hand.

III.

Titles of songs, movies, books…A Ripe Lime…Hot chocolate, molasses cookies…Sandy sheets, a rainy lullaby.

Following dinner, our assembly line began at the big, porcelain-line cast iron sink filled with  hot, soapy Lemon Joy water and ended as we dried and handed each dish, pot, and iron skillet to Nanna for storage.

On most rainy nights, we’d play Charades. My Dad usually started us off by making a fist and putting it on top of his head of light brown, curly hair.  Mother’s eyes sparkled as she called out “A Ripe Lime” and they would peal into laughter. I never did learn the significance of that, but the game continued at a fast fun, loud pace. We called out guesses for titles of songs, movies, books, things, and a variety of crazy and wild stumpers. Whatever   people could think up was fair game. My younger cousins picked cards with pictures of animals on them that they would act out for us to guess.

Our signal that it was almost bedtime arrived when Nanna carried in her tray of mismatched mugs with steaming hot chocolate and special molasses cookies.

We knew the cookies were home-made, because, her handprints were baked into them.  Her method of making cookies was to, after mixing the dough from scratch, pick up a soft clump, give it a light squeeze, and drop it onto the cookie sheet. They were personalized and mag-a-licious.

I slept upstairs in the small, sparse back bedroom where my Uncle grew up. It always amazed and vexed me that, although I hadn’t been to the beach, there was sand between my sheets. The low window sills were even with the mattress on my narrow cot. It often occurred to me that if I rolled over the wrong way, I’d roll right out of the window. The huge Button Ball tree outside the window lulled me and my fears to sleep as the rain drippity dripped between its big, fragrant leaves.

Though Nana and Pappy are gone and the attic has been cleaned out, my happy, rainy day memories live on.