My cousins Ronnie, Jerry, Richie, Maryjo, Uncle Bob and our host, cousin Liz’s husband, Rich were sitting around in the front room after most of the others, the younger members of the family with children to get off to bed and an early morning ahead of them had all gone home from the annual mid-December Christmas celebration. Inevitably when such a gathering occurs, there are stories to retell and memorable moments to share again and we all laugh, with a gentleness in our eyes as we fondly listen and contribute our own perspectives of those bygone days of our childhoods remembering how things were before we were all going grey and aching with life’s allotment of problems.
One of the common threads was going to the store for Grandma. Now we look back and think that when she was desperate for a few minutes of quiet from the little varmints, she would fish through her handbag, or jar in a cabinet, scrape out a little change and ask the kids to go to the store for a loaf of bread or a quart of milk. I don’t recall it ever being anything else, just basic things.
There was a vacant lot on the corner of her street, Velma Road. It was just a wild field and I remember seeing little white morning glories as I trekked the diagonal path worn through the weeds – probably as much by our family as anyone else in the neighborhood. Uncle Bob’s story included his bicycle and getting tripped on the string around the lawn of the first house after the field.
The vacant field was long ago replaced by a building that had a number of different lives, but the little store next to it which was Bender’s when we all ran our errands there is still standing and still looks nice, though the little grocery and butcher shop that we knew was decades gone.