Saturday Stories: Playing at Grandma’s House

(I just realized it isn’t Saturday.  It’s the first day of summer vacation and at 3am, it seemed like Saturday.  I guess the cherry spelt muffins will be posted next week….it’s gonna be a long summer if I cannot find my mind!)

Because I was an only child, I spent a lot of time with grown ups.  Makes sense, right?  Who else was there to play with?  However, the grown ups didn’t always want to play with a little girl.  Most often, they wanted to talk amongst themselves.  Visiting my grandmother’s house was really no exception.  Mamie often took time to play with me, but more often, I needed something quiet to keep me busy in the same room with the adults.

There were certain places in Mamie and Bumpa’s big house where there were always a few things to keep me occupied.  Long before I was born, Mamie and Bumpa bought an antique grandfather clock.  They bought new works for the inside (a kit) and placed the working timepiece in the their front living room.  Looking back, I can see the wisdom of the placement of that clock.  It had a magnificent chime that reverberated through the house.  That particular room was farthest from their bedroom!  Anyway, it also had a little door at its base with two little shelves in it.  Mamie kept five or six books in there.  Although they never varied, it was always fun for me to sit in the small black rocking chair near that clock, open the door and read the books.  She also kept a Fisher Price television music box, like the one below,  in there.

It was pretty high tech for a child of the 1960s.  I was fascinated by it and always wound it up to watch the pictures go by on the screen.
Mamie kept crayons and coloring books in another room.  There was a tall, narrow door with a funny latch to the crayon cupboard.  Mamie kept all sorts of other, non-child, things in it, too, but the crayon tin was what interested me.  She would get out the tin, put it on the floor, and when she opened it, I would just inhale that distinct crayon smell.  I spent hours coloring to the sound of laughter and reminiscing of my relatives.
On almost every visit to the big red house, Mamie would have a new set of paper dolls waiting for me.  I loved the kind that punched out.  If I had to cut them, it took SO long before I could actually play with them.  I remember all sorts of styles; little baby, historical, fancy, etc.  I went looking for some examples online and found a site that actually has some that you can print out.  I think, in a year or two, I will introduce my own little girl to paper dolls.
When Mamie played with me, we would often get out her card tables and a bunch of blankets and build homes by draping the blankets over the tables.  Mamie got right down on the floor with me and had tea parties under the tables with me.  On other occasions, we would head upstairs to a huge dresser that contained all of the hats that Mamie or my mom had worn to fancy occasions.  Each drawer had about five or six hats.  I spent hours putting them on, modeling them, pretending in them, and always, always putting them carefully back in their special spot.   Dress up was so much fun with a long staircase to walk down and a big room to use as a “runway.”  Bumpa would look up from his newspaper or turn down the television to clap.
Looking back, I am amazed at how few actual toys there were at Mamie and Bumpa’s house.  I didn’t bring any with me from home, either.  Yet, those visits to their house were so much fun for me.  The anticipation of finding the same toys in the same places, thinking that they were waiting just for me was as much fun as the actual playing with them.

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