Posted tagged ‘project’

“You’re traveling all over the world but to be home is something special.”

August 5, 2017

The air is damp yet again and makes me feel closed in, hemmed in by the humidity. Rain is predicted for late this afternoon but the gray sky doesn’t look like a rain sky. It looks as it has in days, just gray.

Our Saturday movie night is going to be Sunday movie night because of the weather, the possibility of rain tonight. I have three new movies from which to choose: a new, unbroken Four Feathers, To Kill a Mockingbird and An American Werewolf in London. I’m leaning toward the last one. It has humor and a werewolf, an unbeatable combination.

I had to go around the parking lot three times yesterday before I found a space. It was almost right in front of the store. I gave thanks to the God of parking. I was in and out quickly, but now I find I need to go back. I didn’t read all of the recipe. I missed the sauce and its two ingredients. I figure to wait for the afternoon or for the rain.

I have a project. On the bottom shelf of my large metal table are three baskets. I keep putting stuff in them but take nothing out. They are mini closets, catch-alls for stuff I don’t know where else to put. My mother always had a junk drawer in the kitchen. My baskets are my junk drawers. I’m going to use a large trash bag for debris when I go through each basket. I’m hoping to find some surprises.

When I got home from Ghana and was hoping to find a teaching job, it never occurred to me to find a job which required international travel. I don’t know why unless it was just needing to get used to home again as I wasn’t happy here for a long time. I missed Ghana, the friendliness of the Ghanaians, the fun of market day, fresh fruit at lunch, the spectacular night sky, the wonderful smell of wood burning and so much more. It took me a while to notice the best parts of home.

Newspapers are making a comeback. The Washington Post and The New York Times, among others, are booming. Last November The Times signed up 130,000 new subscribers. I remember when I was a kid there were morning and evening papers, even special editions when something happened. I also remember getting ink all over my fingertips when I read the paper. I was mostly interested in the comics. My dad read the whole paper while he was having coffee. He got the Globe when he was a democrat and switched to the Herald when he became a republican. I get the Globe and the Cape Times. As did my father, I read the whole paper, each paper except I skip the international news in the Times having already read it in the Globe. I have a cup of coffee with each paper. I am my father’s daughter.

“A knife wound heals, but a tongue wound festers.”

March 24, 2015

No weather report today. Day after day is always the same. It’s depressing. The only bright spots are the large numbers of green shoots in my front garden. They give me a bit of hope.

When I was a kid, we lived in what we called the project. The houses were all duplexes, one side the mirror image of the other. Living there was only open to veterans and their families. Kids were everywhere. We first lived around the small rotary which the last of the duplexes circled. Below those duplexes was the field surrounded by woods. A long fence in the backyards separated our houses from the privately owned houses behind us. I used to climb the gate by the parking lot as it was a shortcut to my aunt’s house. I never once, in all the year’s we lived there, see the gate opened. No car ever used it. No car ever really used the parking lot either. Most cars were in front of the houses. My dad always parked his on the side road as our house was on a corner with the hill on one side.

Most times nothing much happened in the project. In the summer you could, now and then, hear people yelling at each other through the opened windows. We always listened. At supper time, mothers yelled out the doors for their kids. Once there was a fight between two men who were neighbors. I remember one man was a photographer who took pictures for the local newspaper. I don’t remember who the other man was. I do know the fight started because the wife of the photographer was German. He had met her while he was in the service on duty in Germany. This was in the mid 1950’s, and most of the men in the neighborhood had served in World War II. The guy I don’t remember called the wife a Nazi and a few more choice names and then the fight started. They rolled and wrestled on the grassy hill, and I remember the photographer’s sweater vest was pulled over his head so he couldn’t see to defend himself. Everybody was out watching. I don’t remember how the fight was ended. I figure neighbors must have grabbed the fighters and separated them as I would have remembered the police coming.

That fight was the talk of the neighborhood for the longest time. The men never spoke to each other again. The photographer and his wife and son eventually moved. That is the only time in my life I have seen adults physically attacking one another. Burned in my memory is the image of the two men rolling down the hill trying to punch one another. I remember the sweater vest had the argyle pattern popular in the 50’s. The son of the photographer wore glasses.

It is strange what our memories hold on to and what is lost over time.

“Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.”

August 26, 2014

Today and the rest of the week will be summer warm. It is like a curse of sorts. Every day is cool until school starts then the heat comes. The temperature will hit the 80’s off-Cape.

Growing up I never noticed we didn’t have much money. To me we had what everyone else in the neighborhood seemed to have. I wore a uniform to school so I didn’t need a lot of dress clothes. I had one or two church dresses. That was more than enough. I had school shoes and play shoes. I always put my play clothes on as soon as I got home from school. I never needed prodding to get out of my uniform. We had one car, but that’s all we needed. My mother didn’t drive. We either walked everywhere or took the bus. I remember the trek to visit my aunt and uncle in East Boston. We walked up town, took the bus to Sullivan Square where we took the first of two subway trains. We had to switch lines at a station I don’t remember, but the second train brought us to Maverick Station in East Boston, and we walked just a bit to my aunt and uncle’s. My mother always told us to go to the next station if we got separated. She was hauling the four of us with her and had to watch my younger sisters so my brother and I had to keep our eyes on her. I remember kneeling, looking out the train window and watching everything whiz by us. I liked being underground and seeing all the pipes and hearing the squealing of the wheels at each turn. As the train lurched so did the people.

We lived in the project. It was all duplexes with front lawns, trees and backyards. Our house, as that’s how we thought of it, had three bedrooms, a living room and a smallish kitchen. We never felt in any way stigmatized by living in a project. Most of the adults were around my parents’ ages and there were tons of kids. We were never wanting for a playmate or someone to walk to school with or go see a movie. We lived there until the move to the cape. When I visit my sister who still lives in that town, I sometimes drive by our house. The trees and bushes are huge now, but it looks the same from the outside. Once when I drove by the house was empty but I didn’t get out to look. I should have. I’d have seen the living room through the picture window in front and the kitchen from the back steps. The cellar door was below a flight of stairs and I would have seen the sink for the washing machine from the door window.

We didn’t go away much or out to eat, but we never cared. We had woods and the swamp, the zoo, train tracks to walk, the dairy and a whole town to explore on our bikes. Life for us was rich.

“A lawn is nature under totalitarian rule.”

October 18, 2013

Today was a break in routine, an out to breakfast morning. My friend and I decided to celebrate the Sox winning the game last night with breakfast. In the old days, I would have celebrated during the whole game and suffered for it this morning. I can remember going to work barely able to open my eyes and with a headache which made me think the top of my head had erupted. I was a whole lot younger then.

When I was in elementary school, my friend I walked to school together every day. She lived at the top of the hill facing the small rotary in the cul-de-sac. She lived on the same side of the duplex  where we once had lived. I remember that house really well. The kitchen was small, the spot for the table was by the window and there were only two bedrooms. The stairs were the best part as there was a small landing, and I used to arrange pillows and sit there and read. We moved from there when my sister was born as we needed more space. We moved down the hill to a bigger duplex apartment, one with three bedrooms.

They called where we lived the project. It was composed of wooden duplexes, either twelve or fourteen of them; I don’t remember which. We lived in the first set almost at the top of the hill. Ours was on a corner and angled to face the street. All the rest were square to the road. We had the biggest lawn in front which we shared with our neighbor. Their side of the duplex was the mirror image of ours. We also had a lawn on the side of the house which was sacred to my father. I remember it was always green and always well-trimmed. My father prided himself on his grass no matter where he lived. He swore by a hand lawn mower. He claimed it did the best job. I loved the sound of him mowing the lawn, the clicking of the blades as he moved up and down in the same pattern he always used. We weren’t ever allowed to mow the lawn. We didn’t follow the pattern right.

The cellar in that duplex was where we played a lot. The big toys were kept down there as were our bicycles in winter or summer rain. Next to the back wall was where the wringer washing machine stood next to a sink. Later on, my brother turned part of the cellar into his bedroom. He didn’t like rooming with my youngest sister. I understood that. One of the lures for our cooperation in moving down to the Cape was that he and I would each have our own bedroom. They were both on the first floor, and he used to sneak out his window late at night. I never did though I did sneak in a couple of times.

A few weeks ago my sister and I drove by our duplex. We both noticed how big the trees were but we especially noticed how awful the lawns looked, especially the one at our old house. My father would never have allowed that.

“Where we love is home – home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.”

March 29, 2012

The weather prediction is for cloudy and maybe rainy through Sunday. A couple of sunless days don’t bother me, but a string of them makes me lethargic. I loll around the house with little ambition. A sunny day gets me active and the floors get washed, the cabinets cleaned and the world looks to be a better place. Later, I’ll drag myself upstairs to shower and make my bed. They will give me some small sense of accomplishment.

We lived in what was called the project. The houses were wooden duplexes, not brick and not high-rises, and there were eleven or twelve of them on Prospect Street and up the hill around a small rotary which made the street a circle. Each side of the duplexes mirrored the other side. We had a kitchen, living room and three bedrooms. The cellar was huge, and it was where we often played and where we stored our bikes and where my mother’s washing machine stood. The big, black oil tank was against the wall on one side. I don’t remember where the furnace was. All the backyards faced each other, and all of them had below ground garbage bins with metal tops right beside the stairs and lines for laundry, three for each family. I have the memory of white sheets blowing on those lines. My mother had one of those hanging cloth clothespin bags. She moved it down each line as she hung the laundry. The backdoor was wooden, and it always slammed in the winter when the storm windows were on it. Our house was white with green trim, all of the houses were. My father kept care of his lawn and the front flower garden beside the stairs. A giant grassy hill stretched across the backyard and separated us from the duplexes on the top of it. Each of the fathers in all the duplexes facing the hill mowed his part of the grass on the hill. We used to roll down the hill so we’d get dizzy.  I remember a slip and slide one summer that everyone used.

Only families with children could live in the duplexes and one parent had to be a veteran. We moved to our first duplex, one with two bedrooms, in 1951. We had lived in the city, in a high-rise brick apartment building. After my sister was born, we were granted a larger duplex, and we moved down the hill from 37 Washington Ave to 16, and that’s where we stayed until 1964. All of my childhood memories were made on Washington Ave.

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