Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

May 20 2009

My grandparents’ houses

The Google Streetview cars have been venturing further and further afield recently, making forays even into small-town Oklahoma, so I did a little searching and was able to find the places I visited on holidays as a child after long rides in the back seats of huge Buicks, to houses with old people, cigarette smoke, pecans and dripping-oil china sets.


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First up is the house of my great grandparents, whom I only remember vaguely as being very well-dressed and dapper (as far as I could tell from ankle-height). We visited my great-grandfather Will at the rest home once, but I don’t recall much about him. After they died, we went through their house and retrieved, among other things I’m sure, a very comfortable rocking chair. In the garage out back was a classic vintage 1950’s two-tone Buick.


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Next is my maternal grandparents’ place, the one constant location of my childhood as we moved here and there across the country in the steps of my father’s aerospace career. It was here that my grandfather beheaded a mole with a hoe in front of me, shocking my mother. My parents and my grandparents would argue a lot, which didn’t understand as it involved inheritances and wills (I still don’t understand it, actually). At one point my grandparents had a waterbed that a lot of fun to bounce on, but if you were sleeping in the room that used to be the garage, as I always did, there were no bathrooms to use until the grown-ups got up in the morning, resulting in me waking everyone up by setting off the burglar alarm when I tried to go outside to find a bush to pee in. The garage/guestroom did, however, have a Steinway piano and an organ with all kinds of funky sounds available by pressing down colored tabs labeled “bosanova” and “waltz”. As there were no kids my age to play with, I would borrow a bicycle that was too big for me and ride east, up Main Street, which looks pretty much as sad and empty as it did in the early 1970’s.


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Finally, my paternal grandparent’s house. I never knew my grandfather, as he died when I was very little, so this house was to me, my grandmother’s house. My grandfather had been a carpenter and had built and designed not only the house but much of the furniture. The house itself was an odd, ramshackle thing, mostly garage downstairs with a narrow living room and kitchen, and no actual doors, just curtains hanging in the frames. My grandmother drove a dull gold 60’s Nash Rambler that still bore her husband’s initials on the doors. I remember wondering at the blue flames shooting out of the gas stove and the tepid skim milk served with breakfast. One thing I don’t recall there is arguments, as my grandmother seemed pretty upbeat and happy. The backyard was long and thin as well due to the unusually sized lot. I’m not sure if I ever actually made it to the end, but I do recall vegetable gardens and hanging plants here and there. It seems a sad, rundown place now, though.

posted by Poagao at 4:32 pm  

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