Friday, November 30, 2007


hey! No one has ordered any rags yet. Grandma Strange would be hurt. And that was a LIE. Grandma Strange would be upset with me for attempting to sell them. She would tell me to give them away or donate them to the soup kitchen or homes.

You don't have to purchase them. Take a peek at them & leave a comment on what you think of them. I enjoy making them because they bring back some of the few wonderful memories in my life. It is my way of sharing some of Grandma Strange's love with others. When you see the crazy colors & errors in the making of them, it makes you laugh. Nothing is perfect..............

Finding God

I have a question.
Why is it elderly people & people in jail or prison always discover God? Is it like a "last ditch effort" to get the pass in to heaven when they leave this planet? People that have never had a thought of God or any type of religion become very religious.

It could be a fear of death or a fear of what they have done in the past. They are realizing they are going on a trip they hadn't planned. Perhaps fear of the unknown makes them take the path of prayer.

The male wolf in my family gave up & prayed on his death bed. I wasn't there, I heard it from the female wolf. There was a place waiting in anticipation for him, but he was trying to go in the wrong direction, if you get my meaning there.

I just felt the need to voice my question. I am going to knit some Grandma Strange rags. I feel the need for her comfort. I think I hear the Sheeny Man coming down the alley.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Grandma Strange's Folk Art Rag Bag

This blog is partly devoted to my Grandma Strange. If you read my blog you will come to know her well.

My Grandma Strange was old fashioned & a loving Grandma. She always wore a braid in the back of her hair & always wore an apron. Grandma knitted dish cloths/cleaning rags from left over yarn before paper towels were manufactured or purchasing rags became popular.

Grandma taught me to knit and while we knitted the afternoons away, we would talk. She would show me that every rag we made was different, not perfect, just like people. I learned many life lessons during my knitting visits with Grandma Strange.

I remember my visits like they were yesterday. Grandma was quite plump & would always greet me with warm hug. It was like being engulfed by a billowy pillow.

Now, as an adult, I would like one visit with Grandma Strange, but it is not possible. So, I knit rags in loving memory of my Grandma Strange. No matter how bad life is or what is going on, I can always knit & picture Grandma here to talk things over with. There were times she only had to look at me & I knew what she was saying.

Remember, these rags are just like Grandma Strange's Rag Bag. None of the rags are perfect or the same as the one before or after. I kept the bright, funny colors too. We had to use the left over yarn. There was never yarn to make one rag the same color.

If you would like to purchase a rag or two, the prices are :
One Rag: $ 5.00 (all prices include postage)
Three Rags: $12.00
Five Rags: $20.00
Each rag is approximately 81/2 inches square
NO charge for special color combinations

Grandma Strange's Folk Art Rag Bag

Did the Law pass for not spanking children?

I just discovered something. There isn't any difference between calling this a blog or calling it a journal. No one reads anything you write about so it is a public journal of sorts. That is O.K. with me.

I am going to add GRANDMA STRANGE'S RAGS on for display & for sale tonight. This is kind of like talking to yourself on paper. It is better than writing in a journal because I like the click, click, click of the keys on the board. It sure looks better when you are finished writing. Yes, this blog thing might be good.

Something has been bothering me today & I do not know the reason. If you have read any of my postings I mention the fact that I was raised by wolves. I do that because my childhood was dreadful & abusive in ways that people find very difficult to believe. I am sixty one years old so it doesn't live with me as it once did. Today I actually have a headache from it. That is what made me think of coming here to write about it.

I think the dark, cloudy weather has something to do with it. The bad weather brings out bad memories for some reason. There were four of us kids in the family. Why do people say "were" instead of "are"? We're still here. I am the oldest. I have a sister one year younger than me & my two brothers are two & three years younger than me. Quite a close family you could say. It was close in age only & the fact that Wolf mother was Catholic. Wolf male did not have any religion, except his own that he made up as he went.

This particular day that will not leave my mind today was when we were in junior high. My youngest brother was always in trouble for something. He got into a fight with another kid & was suspended from riding the school bus for two days. My brother was not a bad kid. He wasn't born that way.

I had no idea what was going on in the house when I returned home that day. It was very quiet, too quiet. Everyone was in their own bedroom. I went to my room & a few minutes later mother wolf returned from work. Father wolf came out of their bedroom & ordered her to make some coffee. Before she even removed her coat she started running water for his coffee. He watched her carefully measure the scoops of coffee into the pot. If it wasn't perfect, she would have to put it all back in the cannister & start over again. The water for the coffee had to be the right temperature coming out of the faucet or that would have to stop & start several times. Preparing coffee in this demented house could take some time. Don't you dare drink out of someone's glass or cup either. That could get you a black eye for sure.

When he was satisfied with her work he told her to sit down in her chair. We all had designated kitchen chairs to sit in. Just like the three bears, only different. It was very, very different. A bit of sarcasim helps some times.

The wolf father told her she had better look at her youngest son because he doesn't think he will be able to attend school for a few days. "Uh Oh......"! was my first thought while I was eavesdropping in the hallway. I went toward my brother's room & my sister stopped me. She told me we had orders not to enter his room. Yeah, right. I turned on the light & entered with the female wolf behind me.
My brother was laying in a pile on the floor. He wore glasses & the glasses were still on his face. The nose piece was broke in half & the glass in both frames were actually shattered. He had blood smeared every where. Blood was still trickling out one ear. He was laying there staring off into space. At first I truly thought he was dead. His face had already swelled which made the cuts look worse. His lips actually appeared to be one huge lip. His eyes were turning black under the broken glasses. There were even scratches on his face. The male wolf never cut his finger nails or toe nails. The female wolf had to do it for him. She wasn't doing her job.

Wolf female took one look at her son laying there, inhaled a big sigh & started toward him. The male wolf yelled at her to back away & let him lay there where he deserved. She actually sighed again & walked away.
I can't write any more about it right now.

I had a totally different title when I started this posting. As I was writing I found out why I was so haunted today by this childhood memory. I was watching CNN & they were talking about the no spanking law. They were arguing the pros & cons. I wish I could argue that with them.

I wonder if it passed. I hope it did.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Waiting Room

I am breaking away from Grandma Strange for a moment.

I have to share my visit to the doctor. I have a disease. It is called COPD. Most of you would know it by emphysema. I have several doctors that treat me. People with COPD spend many hours with doctors. Have you sat & watched the action in a waiting room? I forgot my book to read, so I had nothing to do while waiting.

Patients sit there tapping their foot & gazing off in space. The cell phones ring, some are answered & some are ignored. Each phone plays a different song. Waiting rooms could be compared to an elevator. Usually no one talks or even shares a smile of acknowledgement that other people exist sitting next to them.

There is a woman sitting across from me. She is looking at a book but never turns a page. She might as well be looking at it upside down. She watches the other patients & when they look back, she pretends to be reading the book. Next to her is an older man. He is accompanied by a younger caregiver type person. He, in between coughing up a lung, is telling her how incompetent she is & she cannot even prepare toast for him without burning it. Over in the corner is a working type guy. He is dressed in heavy duty work clothes. He is one of those guys that looks your body up & down as he talks to you. He never meets your eyes, just your body parts. I sincerely want to stare back at him, but I don't want to encourage him to follow me home.

I have the utmost respect for doctors. I don't know how they can listen to people's ailments all day. I always had a strict rule for myself, don't ever ask an old person how they are, because they will tell you. I have now become one of those "older people". I am blessed with a disease that doesn't allow me to talk as I did when I was healthy. I know many people appreciate that.
I simply run out of air. I don't have enough air to breathe & talk at the same time.

Doc must be running behind today. He is a wonderful doctor & I love him or I would not be sitting here without a book to read. I might go borrow the book the lady across from me is not reading.

O.K. gazing it is...........My gazing takes me to the see thru sliding glass window to the receptionist area. The glass is adorned with various credit cards that will be accepted as payment. I see many new drugs available. (for "whatever ails you" as Grandma Strange would say) The tape holding all this paper is discolored & old. It is curling on the edges & faded. The literature racks are empty. Activities long since past are still stuck on the window. Under the window are scuff marks on the wall. I look at the pictures & they have fingerprints & dust on them. If I had a book I wouldn't have noticed the dust on all the chair rungs. If this area was made more pleasant for the patients, they might not feel like the discolored, curling tape.

The frazzled, tired receptionist glances periodically at the clock on the wall & then back to the waiting room full of patients. I get the idea that this is not her dream job. She receives several personal calls. She chats while the office phone rings. Her response to the patient calling is, "can you hold a moment, please?" & continues her personal call. After a few minutes she ends the personal call & treats the incoming call as an intrusion.

I could gather from her numerous conversations there is a cook out tonight with her family. They discussed what everyone is bringing & who is picking up the kids. That will be nice. She
can relax & perhaps enjoy a nice glass of wine.
I hope the scheduled rain doesn't ruin her plans. It it does, I am glad I won't be a patient here tomorrow. There is nothing worse than the wrath of an upset receptionist. That could ruin your day.

As I look closer, not only does the window need cleaning, but the entire area looks unkept.

Great! Someone comes out of a room. It is all our beloved receptionist could do to raise her head & talk to the patient. The lady needs some tests run & it seems they can't decide on a good time.
Finally, the receptionist tells her to take it or leave it, that is all there is. (I think that glass of wine for her tonight just morphed into a vodka martini straight up)

I got up from my chair & started pacing. I walked down the hall to the bathroom. Next door to the bathroom was an open door I had not noticed before. I peeked in & discovered it was the janitor's closet. I looked at this as an omen. I quickly filled my arms & returned to my post. I just could not sit any longer. As I returned I spotted a drug representative & actually grabbed four boxes of Kleenex. I discovered all the literature pamphlets in a box. Reception girl left her station long enough for me to spray Windex & clean off the old tape & signs on the see thru window. I used the Pledge can on everything that didn't move, including a bald guy's head. I tossed out all the bits & pieces of junk laying around the room. One of the patients asked if I would go home with him. The book lady actually laughed at that. Before long they were telling me I was missing a spot here & there.

As people were coming in & out I kept telling the nurse to take someone else. I really wanted to finish what I started. I was standing back enjoying my work. I turned around to get some approval from my fellow patients & I suddenly realized I was the only one in the room.

I was sitting on the table waiting for the doctor to enter & I looked down. Did you ever notice the black rubber step on an examining room table? This one needed a good scrubbing. NO, I sat there & didn't move. By this time I was too tired to do anything about it.

My appointment went fine. As I was leaving & once again admiring my work, I had a thought. Now I know why they call it a WAITING ROOM. I think they plan those long boring waits on purpose. They don't employ cleaning staff. One or two patients like me is all they need.

Oh, woe is me. I just realized I see a different doctor tomorrow.

Wring chicken necks & go to Mass

Saturday morning at Grandma Strange's house was everyone up early & many chores to be done.
The dog area had to be cleaned & dog dishes washed. Yard work was waiting for attention. The chickens had to be fed & watered. Can you imagine chickens in Detroit? I mean in the city of Detroit, not the farm area. I guess that was before zoning was enforced.

Feeding the chickens was as much fun for me as cleaning the front porch. Those were my two favorite jobs. My most enjoyable time was when Grandma Strange called it a day & we were able to sit & knit. I learned more from her than I have from anyone in my life. She even taught me how to care for the plants in the garden. To this day I have Holly Hocks, Lily Of The Valley & purple Iris in my garden in her honor. When we knitted the rags we always laughed over the colors. We had to use left over yarn to make the cleaning rags so we created our "rags of many colors". Some turned out like a rainbow & some could not be classified as anything except a rag.

I am still knitting our rags. They are one way of keeping Grandma Strange close. She saved my life. I will be posting some pictures of the rags & they will be for sale. I can guarantee you that you will never see these colors any where else or this type of rag.

I heard Grandma yell for me from behind the garage. The chicken coop was located behind the garage & the vegetable garden. Remember I mentioned Grandma served chicken every Sunday. She wanted me to chase down three chickens for her. This part of the chores was my least favorite. Grandma knew how much this upset me. We had a talk about where food came from & I felt better. I just didn't want to be on the killing end of the food we ate.

I would catch the chickens she had chosen to become Sunday dinner. She grabbed them around the neck & twisted them like a cowboy lassos a horse. Off comes the head. When someone tells you to quit running around like a chicken with your head cut off, please stop. Because they really do continue to run with their head off. I am glad Grandma didn't have any cows.
I don't want to talk about what happened to them next.

I loved Sunday Mass. At that time all Masses were still in Latin. I always felt special because Grandma let me wear a lovely net head covering to Mass. We couldn't go into a Church without a head cover. Wow, how things have changed. I could not wait to study & make my first Holy Communion. That was like reaching a pinnacle in your life as a Catholic. The male wolf parent would not hear of it. By that time he had decided he didn't like the nuns. I watched my Grandma cry without a sound & shake her head. She never said a word. I respected her for suffering quietly. That was something she could never teach me. I am not silent.

Off to Mass we went. When we returned home Grandma put her apron on & prepared dinner. As we sat down to dinner, before she said the prayer, I told everyone I wanted to introduce the Annie Oakley of chicken killers to them, right here in person at our dining room table.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Grandma Strange & the drunk Uncle

Oh, Thank you Lord, I don't know what the wolf mother did, but the male wolf gave permission for me to ride the bus & stay with Grandma Strange for the week end. Some times if he couldn't come up with a believable excuse he would say I could go, but the other three kids had to go too. It wasn't fair of Grandma to take just one child. Funny thing was, they didn't want to go & she didn't want them either. My siblings were not close to the family. I was the only outgoing one. They were like the wolf parents & were happy to stay in the den.

We arrived at Grandma's house about 6:00 p.m. I ran up the back stairs with my bag in hand to put everything in one of bedrooms upstairs. You never knew who would be spending the night so you had to mark your territory or you would end up sleeping on the floor.

My wolf mother & Grandma were sitting at the kitchen table talking when I came downstairs. I could tell something was wrong, so I sat down & looked from one to the other. It was nothing new, my Uncle Henry had "fell off the wagon" again & hadn't been home in two days. He dropped his wife & three kids off & left. I was only about five & I wasn't worried.

Grandma would allow me to sleep in her room if there was a full house. I always felt safe falling asleep listening to her Big Ben alarm clock ticking. It had big green hands that glowed in the dark. She always let me sleep on the inside wall. With her on the outside of the bed, she could protect me.
Her & I went to her room because I loved sitting at her dressing table & playing with jewelry, make up & hats. I can still smell her Lily of The Valley perfume. The bottle was always small & the most beautiful color of blue/purple. She laid her hankies so neatly in a drawer. They were all white with embroidery on them. I played until the others arrived & we went out to play.

The house was settling down for the night & all a sudden we woke to a crash & screaming downstairs. Then we realized the uncle's drinking binge had ended & he was trying to find his way home. I was scared because I could hear Grandma's voice & my aunt was yelling. The other cousins and I sneaked down the back stairway because we couldn't be seen from there. The kitchen lights were off so we could sneak in the dark in order to see better.
The adults were in between the dining room & the living room. Grandma & aunt Mary were trying to get uncle Henry off to bed & he wanted something to eat. Fool that he was, he would eat & drink more, then get sick. This story played out every single time he drank. What a life.

The next thing I knew uncle Henry pushed Grandma in to the piano. Grandma was a big lady but that piano didn't budge. I knew she was hurt. His silly wife just stands there & looks at him. I was livid. I grabbed the first thing I could get my hands on, which was a knitting needle. I ran toward him & jabbed him in the leg. I gave it all the strength I had and got his upper leg in the back, just below his butt. He jumped & screamed like he's been shot.........I held that needle up like a weapon & demanded he go to bed. By then everyone is crying & Grandma was coming over to me with her arms held out to me. Henry went to the bathroom to check out his injury.

I remembered Grandma telling me that some times you had to bite your tongue & turn the other cheek in life. Don't carry a grudge or stay mad at someone. Forgive & forget. I went to the kitchen & got out a bowl of food. I mixed it up and added some salt. Uncle Henry was a big salt freak. I think he put salt on cereal. I know he put it in his beer. I thought it was fun watching the foam raise to the top of the glass to overflow & the minute he put salt in it, it stopped.

He came on unsteady legs out of the bathroom. I helped him get seated at the table, complete with napkin & silver ware. I told him I wanted him to eat so he wouldn't be sick in the morning. It was Saturday & he could help Grandma with some chores. At that point that man thought I was a princess of the best kind. He said dinner was delicious & he was going to bed. He cleaned up the entire bowl of food. Then he leaned over me & gave me a stinky, sloppy, yucky kiss on my cheek & thanked me. I kept pushing him toward their bedroom. My aunt grabbed his arm, dragged him in the bedroom & locked the door. What an idiot. The two of them are idiots.

I turned around & see Grandma sitting in her big over sized rocker. She is rocking & the only light in the room is the night light on top of the piano. But I can still see her smile. I went over & climbed on her lap. After about five rocks in the chair, she said, "Grace Marie, you did something tonight that you should not have done. You put yourself in danger when you grabbed that knitting needle & stabbed your uncle." Then she got very quiet & I knew she was going to cry. She didn't cry. She started so laughing so hard I was falling off her lap. In between the tears of laughter, she kept saying I would never be allowed to stay there again if the wolf parents found out about it. She knew I never told them anything.
With any luck uncle Henry will never remember it & his wife never opened her mouth about anything. She was too afraid of him.

Grandma suggested we go off to bed. While I was brushing my teeth & getting on a night shirt for bed, she told me how nice it was that I jumped in & fed Henry. It meant a lot to her to see I can turn the other cheek & not stay upset. I looked at her & quietly asked, "who forgot to feed Spot tonight? I didn't want that dog food & table scraps going to waste". I can still hear Grandma Strange laughing.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Me And Grandma Strange

I must have taken a sabbatical and wasn't aware of it. I have not been here for some time. That is my life. There is a message there some where.

I was thinking about my childhood. I don't do that too often. I saw something on one of the news channels about child abuse and it came to mind for a fleeting second. I always laugh and say I was raised by wolves when someone asks about my childhood. Actually wolves would have been a better choice over the human parents. I did not want to dwell on that so I went into my mind about the better things in my life and the first thing I see is my Grandma Strange. (real last name) Grandma Strange for me is what Dr. Phil means when he says everyone needs a soft place to fall. Grandma was indeed the epitome of a soft place to fall. I would give years off my life if it meant she could have lived longer.

I begged to go to Grandma's house. The male part of my parents forbid much visiting because if it was enjoyable, you could not do it. I started visiting Grandma from birth on and I have not yet replaced what she gave me. No one has ever made me as happy and safe as she did.

The time period here is in the late 40s, 50s and into the 60s. Grandma and Grandpa were my wolf mother's parents. They lived in Detroit Michigan all their lives. They had two daughters and three sons. Grandma was a devout Catholic and attended Mass daily. Grandpa was a devout alcoholic and attended the bar daily. But, grandpa owned his own butcher shop and he was a good drunk. The only way you were aware he was drunk is when he sat down to read the evening paper and his teeth fell out. But, functional he was, never missed working 7 to 7 six days a week. He never attended Mass on Sunday either but Grandma Strange prayed enough for him too.

In my house growing up we were never allowed to have company. No one came to our house. At Grandma's house it was an open door policy. She never knew how many for dinner or if one of her own had moved back in the house. She told me she had started feeding and caring for everyone during the depression. I can remember she always had a house full on Saturday night. The friends of her sons came over and brought their beer and she made tons of popcorn. They watched the wrestling matches on the small TV. They whooped and hollered. They all believed it was the real thing because it was on television.

Sunday afternoon she came home from Mass and cooked fried chicken, mashed potatoes, vegetables and home made bread. I never understood how she did it because no matter how many people showed up she had enough food for everyone.

I never saw Grandma Strange angry. I saw her give looks that should have killed the person she was looking at, but she was a saint.

I loved Grandma Strange's house. It was an old two story with the big porch on the front. If I was lucky enough to be there on the week end my cousin Diane would let me help her do chores. She was one of my uncle's daughters. His family moved in and out of Grandma's house like it was a hotel. I never asked why. It is great to be a kid and not know the bad things that go on in life. They lived at Grandmas most of the time. They had two daughters and two sons.

The house was the clapboard that was used before aluminum siding was heard of and it had a huge wood porch attached to the front leading to the door. That was sacred ground. We were never allowed to use the front entry. Actually no one could use the front porch except the mailman. The porch was gray in color. It had to be swept and washed every Saturday. The other job that took place on the porch was polishing shoes. There were saddle shoes and tennis type shoes. We only had dress shoes if there had been a funeral or a wedding the previous week. I detested doing the saddle shoes because Diane was so picky about the way they were done. If I got any white on the black I had to take a teeny tiny barely wet rag and get it off immediately. I messed up enough times that she demoted to tennis shoes forever. There was no second chances with her, unless it came to scrubbing the porch. Then you had to do that until you got it right. She would stand and watch until she saw Grandma coming to check on the progress. Grandma couldn't be fooled. She knew what Diane was doing by making me do all the work. She had probably done to all the cousins since she was one of the older ones. Grandma would check it over while Diane had just grabbed the old rag mop out of my hands. Then Grandma would look at me and wink, "Good job, Grace Marie. Thank you." That made my heart sing and my tongue stick out in Diane's direction.

Tomorrow the Sheeny Man comes.

Here Comes The Sheeny Man

The first man in my life that was soft spoken and made me feel like I was someone special was the Sheeny Man. I never knew him by any other name. He came down the alley way behind Grandma Strange's house every week. At the time I thought he had to be older than dirt. But at my age everyone was old. I think I was about four years old when the Sheeny Man and I first met.

I would sit on the back porch and wait to hear him coming. Grandma Strange would have ready whatever I could con her out of to give to the Sheeny Man. I didn't realize, even as an adult, that many people do not know what a Sheeny Man was. In case you still don't know, I will tell you. A Sheeny Man was an "older man" with a cart. He walked or rode down all the alley ways looking for whatever people would give him. He would take rags, cans, little pieces of anything. He never turned anything down. Later on I understood WHY he didn't reject anything.

He would start at the beginning of the alley and yell, "Sheeny Man coming. Sheeny Man coming", over and over and over. He was a black man with salt and pepper hair. He had the kindest eyes I have ever seen. He would always wave at me from the beginning of the alley. He had this huge wagon that he pulled behind him or pushed in front of him. It was made of wood. I don't know how he could handle something that heavy. I could always tell if it had been a good day or not by the size of his load. I would always tell him if his mommy would be happy with him or not by the size he was pushing. I guess at that age I didn't think of him having a wife.

We had the same conversation each time. I would look the load over and give him my opinion of the day. He would look over what I had for him. He would say, "Thank you, Miss Gracie and the good Lord thanks you too. You tell your grandma thank you too". He would give me a smile and a tip of his hat and start shouting out "Sheen Man coming. Sheeny Man coming" and move on down the alley.
As I got older we would talk about other things. But he was always on his mission. He couldn't take a lot of time to "jabber babber" as he called it.

I asked him one time why he didn't have a horse or make the front part of the cart into a bike.
He laughed at me and asked me if I knew what money was. I promised him when I grew up I would help him get a horse because when he came down the alley I would have an apple waiting for the horse and one of Grandma Strange's donuts for him. He figured it was going to take too long for me to grow up so he would take the donut next week.

I would do anything I had to do to be at Grandma Strange's house on Sheeny Man day. I made Grandma promise not to tell my wolf parents why I had to be there. If they knew, they would never allow it to happen again.

A few years later when it wasn't possible for me to be there on Sheeny Man day because of school I would go on any day off from school that I could. When Grandma Strange and I begin our rag bag knitting I would sneak some off for the Sheeny Man.

One day when we were knitting and talking, Grandma Strange asked me something she had been wanting to ask for a long time. She told me she was aware that I was sneaking a rag once in awhile to the Sheeny Man and she didn't have problem with that. She went on to tell me that all the times I insisted on meeting the Sheeny Man and taking items to him that I shouldn't have kept the money. She went on to explain to me the value of money and the items did not belong to me. I was in tears when she finished. I then explained to her that I didn't take money from the Sheeny Man for the things I gave him. He and I never talked money. It would have made me proud to collect money for Grandma and Grandpa. We ended up in each other's arms crying the ugly cry together.

We decided that God must have wanted the Sheeny Man to have those things. I assured her he needed the money for a horse or some bike pedals for sure.

I have wondered all these years, did the Sheeny Man love me for myself or what I could give him? Come to think of it, I have wondered that about other men in my life too. Hmmmmm

Tomorrow is Monday and that is wash day at Grandma's house.

Wash day at Grandma Strange's house

Did anyone else call laundry day wash day? Besides meal preparation, nothing was done on Monday except laundry. Woe is me if it rained. If it rained it became baking day instead.

You entered Grandma Strange's kitchen by coming up the driveway on the side of the house. There were steps leading up to a small porch that took you into the kitchen. I loved the slam of the back screen door. Grandma had a dog named Spot. He looked like a Pit Bull mixed with something else. He was totally white except for a huge black spot on his back. That was when people still kept dogs tied to a dog house in the back yard. Someone came out once a day to give him fresh water and food. Spot had an old nasty house made of odd pieces of lumber. When I was there I always volunteered to feed and water him. Yes, of course I took some stolen table scraps with me buried in his dog food.
Grandma would always tell me not to get to close to him because he would bite me. He was a watch dog. I could never figure out how he could be a watch dog when he was tied to a dog house. I could not see a burglar walking up to old Spot and surrendering for breaking into the house. My uncles would come home and yell at Spot for barking. Some things about my family never made sense to me.

Inside the back door were the stairs going to the top floor. When all of us cousins spent the night we used these stairs to come down at night and raid the kitchen. After we loaded up on whatever we could carry, we raced back upstairs giggling and hid under the sheets.

Grandma's kitchen always smelled of oil cloth from the covers on her table. Those were the days that all tables had to be covered. The dining room table had lace covers made from hand by someone in the family. She had the lace covers on everything. They had to be put on the living room chair arms and the backs of the chairs also. Then they were tacked down with some kind of small size tack to hold them in place. I never figured out what the object of all these covers were. But every home had them.

We had to go back out the back door, down the stairs and to the right to get to the door of the basement. The entry to the basement was exactly like the one in The Wizard Of Oz. You pulled up both white wooden doors and walked down into the basement. I had to stand on a wood crate to reach the naked bulb with the gold chain hanging from it to light the room.
The first load was washing and it was my favorite load. I could hear the whir whir whir of the wringer washer going around agitating the load. The basement smelled humid and steamy. I inhaled the odor of Clorox bleach. Everything in the basement held a fog over it. Along the back walls were the canned fruit and vegetables and the glass was sweating like it was laying on the beach.

When that load was finished I was allowed to feed some of the items into the wringer. I learned very quickly what the arm on the end of the wringer was for. Some times you are so busy wringing, your arm goes in with the clothes. Grandma tried scaring me by telling me my uncle Jim lost his arm feeding the wringer too fast. I believed it for a short time. I never did find out the truth, but one of his arms was missing from the elbow down.
The thing I don't remember is the rinse portion. The clothes had to be rinsed, but I guess I only remember the parts I liked the best.

Grandpa wore a snow white shirt and long apron to work every day. Grandma starched and ironed everything. I had a fetish for Argo starch. It came in a box and the starch was in the form of small, soft, white rocks. When I became tired I would take the Argo starch box and climb up on one of the dirt walls. I would sit there and eat the starch. Why did I do that? I don't know. Grandma allowed me eat it because she said I was lacking something in my system or I wouldn't eat it. She also let me eat small rocks and dirt for the same reason.
One day I swallowed a rock and today I still laugh about it. My mother was in the yard with me when I swallowed it. It was caught in my throat in such a way I could not speak. It just sat there. She kept asking me stupid questions and I kept trying to tell her I couldn't speak. Finally I attempted hitting myself on the back. She stands there like we are playing Charades. Grandma was shaking out the sheets and hanging them on the line. I guess when I started to turn blue she decided to come over and take charge of the situation. The serious look on her face never changed as she grabbed me by the arm and jerked me off my feet with one hand and slapped me the back with the other. There went the stone flying out of my mouth. I thought I was dead. I was saying prayers that I didn't even know I knew the words to. Grandma Strange looked at my mother and I with her "severe" look and said, " daughter, go home! Grandaughter, come with me."

I thought she needed me to help fry some donut holes.