I remember my days in Nashville. Michigan. We lived on Queen Street and the P's lived next door. Now the only way I can describe this family is in the limited memories I have of them. The mother had auburn red hair, all up in the updo that a lot of people did during the seventies, including my Mom. Mrs. P’s was more bun ish on top than my Mom’s was. Mom preferred the basket weave look.
But I digress. Mrs. P smoked a lot and had wire rimmed cat’s eye glasses. She liked to wear polyester pants and short sleeve knit shirts of varying patterns. Usually she was dressed in browns and beige. There were always a lot of broken down cars in their driveway….or they worked on their cars a lot and there were the kids. I remember Marsha and Jimmy. Marsha, a year ahead of me in school, had a brown coat with beige fur on the wrists and hood. She must have worn it a lot because all of my memories of her include it.
Jimmy was slow; really slow. He was very awkward looking and had that look of; well, just stupid on his face. I would try to be kind but really he was just not very bright at all. He was always doing things wrong and getting in trouble all of the time. There wasn’t a day that went by without hearing his dad yell, “Jimmy, get in here!” More times than not, the police would show up and ask Jimmy about something that was missing in town that he’d been accused of taking.
One summer we went to my Uncle’s farm and got some huge bloodstones. I believe that they weighed at least twenty pounds a piece or more and were quite a large size. We put them in our side yard, next to the Palhamus house. One day we came home from somewhere and those huge rocks were missing. Gone. Vanished. My Mom yelled right across the street, “Jimmy , I am giving you exactly one minute to bring my rocks back! I know it was you who took them!”
Out pops Jimmy and he looks at my Mom and says, “I didn’t steal those rocks! Those are GOD’s rocks, so I didn’t steal them from you!” To which my Mom looked at him and without missing a beat said to him, “Well, Jimmy, if God’s rocks don’t make it back to MY yard quickly, you can explain the whole God thing to Gene (the police chief).
Jimmy reluctantly returned the rocks and all was well….for a while. I really don’t know how many kids they had. They might have even been foster parents. The tragic kind, not the good kind. The dad got roaring drunk most nights and I don’t ever remember the Mrs. Having a smile on her face. It was just sad.
Nashville was full of interesting people. Our other next door neighbor was Maude. She was from England and I loved going over to her house just to hear her speak. Also her house was filled with velvet upholstered antiques and you could look each time you visited and see some new little Victorian style trinket. I was in love with her accent and everything about her.
I remember the time that I went over as she was getting ready to eat and she asked if I’d like to join her. I took one look at the dish and quickly told her that I really had to get home! I went home freaked out telling my Mom that her dinner looked like a big tongue. I did not know that cow’s tongue was something ANYONE would eat and when I saw it on the platter, smelling lovely but looking like a tongue………..well, at least I remembered my manners!
Then there were the S's across the street. They were Jehovah’s Witness. Susie S. was my sister’s age and she had an older sister Theresa. Wanda was the mom and I remember her being friendly with my Mom but I always felt bad for Theresa and Susie when it came to their birthdays and Christmas. We always felt guilty about having new things around them. I didn’t really understand the whole Jehovah’s Witness thing and I hated it that Wanda always said that she was sad that we wouldn’t be with them in the Promised Land.
Then there was the lady who worked at the bank. We always made May Day Baskets for all the older ladies around town. I had never given her a basket before because, honestly, she scared me. She never looked happy to me, but that year Mom told me we should include her on our basket list.
So I fashioned my baskets out of doilies, rolling them up and stapling or gluing them. I picked all the lovely flowers from our back yard or near my grandma’s yard.
It depended on what was available but usually some lilies of the valley, violets, daffodils or tulips. I made handles for the baskets and then the idea was to quietly go up and hang a basket on the door knob, ring the doorbell and then go hide!
I don’t think we hid really well because all the ladies usually saw the basket and then found me and thanked me with a big smile on their face. That is until the year we did Bank Lady. She came to the door and saw the flowers, saw me and got mad! She accused me of taking the flowers from her yard and told me that it wasn’t nice to cut people’s flowers. I was devastated. I looked at her as I was crying and said, “But I would never take YOUR flowers! I picked them from our yard like we do every year!” And I ran home. Apparently she felt very badly because she apologized to me soon afterward but I never did place another basket on her door.