Monday, January 5, 2009

Grandma Helen and Grandpa Sid


I recently found a frame for an old picture of Grandma Helen and Grandpa Sid, and as I framed it, I started reminiscing...

Helen and Sid were my mother's parents. Sid owned his own drug store in the days when people lived and shopped in Cleveland (as opposed to the suburbs of Cleveland). What did that mean to us 7 grandchildren? CANDY! Maybe that's how I became the Candy Queen! Every time we went for dinner at Grandma and Grandpa's, we would open the drawer at the bottom of their oven, where Grandma stored every bag they had ever received. And we could fill our bag with candy. Provided, of course, that we finished our dinner. Maybe this is where my weight issues started.

Grandma was a wonderful cook. She made these wonderful Hungarian Nutballs, and Kraut Halushken (cabbage with noodles). She sang in the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus and she befriended conductors and singers who performed in the Pops concerts. As a matter of fact, I was named after one of those singers, Bonnie Murray, and she would always spend time with us when she was in Cleveland. (And we continued to exchange Christmas cards until her death last year.)

Grandma was also really good with flowers, and I remember her marigolds.

In my younger days, my parents would go out on Saturday nights, and Grandma and Grandpa were my baby sitters. Ah yes, I can remember many a Saturday night spent watching Lawrence Welk on TV. I do remember one night, which I have never told anyone about, when I was supposed to be in bed. Something made me want to know what was going on downstairs. I snuck partway down the stairs and apparently Grandma was having chest pain. She did not want to seek medical treatment. So Grandpa just sat there holding her hand, telling her it was going to be ok.

Family dinners at Grandma and Grandpa's, with our aunt and uncle and cousins, were always a wonderful time. After cooking for 13 people, Grandma and Grandpa would clean up while we had fun; Grandma would wash and Grandpa would dry.

If you visited Grandma and Grandpa and it wasn't dinnertime, you would likely be offered cold Vernors ginger ale, with an assortment of cookies in a canister on top of the refrigerator. Their house was a very comfortable house, and I often drive by it, wondering what it looks like now.

Grandma got sick with breast cancer and ended up in a nursing home. Grandpa went to visit her every day. After she died, he continued to work at drugstores as a pharmacist, well into his late 80s, as well as helping our family out. Friday was cleaning day. I remember him coming to help my mom vacuum and do whatever else was needed in the house, including walking Goldie our wonderful dog.

Grandpa's son, my Uncle Buddy, died a few years after Grandma and I can't imagine what it was like for him to bury a son.

I remember Grandpa's beloved cigar. In his later years, he moved in with my parents, who did not want the cigar smell in their house. Sometimes we'd drive up to my parents' house, and there was Grandpa, sitting on the front porch in the dead of winter, bundled up in his hat and coat, smoking his cigar.

One time I came in town for my brother's wedding. I came with my old boyfriend, Larry. When it was time to leave, Larry and I were going to drive Grandpa home. Larry pulled out a cigarette and offered one to Grandpa. To my extreme surprise, he said "oh yeah, I'll have one of those. I haven't had one of those in years...." And I sat there dying, waiting for my very anti-smoking parents to discover grandpa smoking a cigarette (they never did, but the memory still makes me smile).

When I went away to college, Grandpa would send me a little check for "coke money" as he called it. One spring, my parents came to bring me home from college in Toronto. They brought Grandpa with them. That car was so jammed with stuff that when we went through customs, the customs guy never even saw him. He asked my parents and I questions, but skipped Grandpa, who was buried in all my belongings.

Grandpa worked hard all his life. He never complained and always went about his business in a low key manner. He was 88 when he died. I wish my husband and kids could have known him.

7 comments:

bella rum said...

I loved this post. Helen and Sid memorialized.

Grandparents can offer so much to to children. This was a lovely tribute and I enjoyed getting to know them.

Sharon said...

I remember both of your grandparents very, very well.

I went to Wiley Junior High for one year, and would walk down their street on my way home. I remember stopping, more than once, to say hello - and to get Vernors and a cookie. After that year, I always connected Vernors with your grandmother. And she was so nice and so welcoming to me, even if I wasn't with you!

I also remember driving by your parent's house and see your grandfather outside smoking in the dead of winter. I was a smoker at the time - cigarettes, not cigars! - and I remember thinking GOOD FOR HIM - he's not letting them stop him!

A very nice tribute.

Jeanie said...

This is a wonderful story, Bonnie, about people I wish I'd known. Beautifully told; I can "see" them through your words.

We did Lawrence Welk with the grandparents, too. A whole generation of us, I think, probably did! And I love the part about the candy and the food. So THAT's where the Hungarian Nutballs came from (I call them Bonnie's Jingle Balls!) They are THE BEST recipe I have for cookies!

Reading this was just a wonderful treat. I may need to read it again!

Anonymous said...

Thanks SOOOO much, Bonnie! I have so many wonderful - and painful - memories as well. I spent the whole day of 29 April 1972 with my mom, dad and grandma Helen; I wheeled her around in her wheelchair and we talked for hours together. Only a couple hours later the phone call came that she had left the planet. I felt so lucky to have had that time with her.

I also remember 17 September 1975, sitting across the room from grandpa Sid as we both were knocked out by the shock of my dad's sudden departure. I remember the chaos of the house all around us and yet we could look at each other across the room and we both knew that we were connected and hurting so deeply.

Of course, all the years before that: the food, the parties, the card games, the maple leaf cookies.....

Thank you for making their story a part of the permanent record that is "on-line."

~rachel

Anonymous said...

Brilliant.
Thanks for writing this,
Anita

Mich said...

This was great, Bonnie. I wish I could hang out with Helen and Sid.

AOM-1 said...

HOW BEAUTIFUL, REALLY. AS YOUR ENTRY UNFOLDED, MEMORIES OF MY OWN CREPT INTO MY MIND...FOND MEMORIES, BROUGHT ALIVE BY THE IMAGES THAT YOU SO CLEARLY PAINTED, OF MY OWN GRANDPARENTS. THEY ARE NOT ALL WONDERFUL MEMORIES, BUT THEY ARE MINE~A RECORDED HISTORY THAT WAS A PART OF MY OWN CHILDHOOD.

AS A GRANDFATHER, I ESPECIALLY ENJOYED THE SOFT COLORS WITH WHICH YOU PORTRAYED YOUR GRANDPA. I COULD ONLY HOPE THAT I AM REMEMBERED WITH SUCH FONDNESS AND LOVE.