Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hot Summertime Daydreams

I live in one of the 24 states that are under heat warnings.  I feel sorry for myself but since half the country is feeling the same heat, I have a lot of company in the whine department.  Even after all these years, I still associate extreme heat with visiting my grandparents, every summer in July, in south east Missouri.  Coming from Michigan a 90 degree day is a rarity and if the thermometer does hit the 90's, we knew it would not last.  Not so in Missouri.

My memories start from the late 1950s at the earliest. No one had air conditioning.  They had open windows and fans.  I remember spending the entire vacation, at both grandparents homes, in my unders, with no shirt.  This is my grandfather (my Dad's father) that we called Papaw.  All of our northern friends had Grandmas and Grandpas.  We had Mamaw and Papaw.  I was always self conscious about that.  Now, living in North Carolina, I'll hear a little one in the grocery store, or where ever, ask for "Meemaw" .  It warms my heart.  I was surprised when I saw this picture that he was not in the blue denim overalls, with the straps at the top.  That's how I most remember him.

This is the grandfather that went frog gigging and caught the catfish my mother so loved.  I can still see my tiny little grandmother standing at the stove with a couple of black cast iron skillets full of hot grease popping and sizzling around  those frog legs and hush puppies.  She never sat down at the table to eat with us.  She cooked and nibbled,  with a cigarette in one hand and sweet tea in the other.   It would be murderously hot in her tiny kitchen, but the food and love that came out of it was wonderful.

This picture of me with my Mamaw was about 1952.  She was a tiny woman, never reaching 5 feet or 100 pounds. I remember standing next to her in the front seat of the car as she drove us around and her throwing her arm out to catch me when she would come to a stop.  My parents moved back to Missouri from Michigan,  for a couple of years.  My sister was born there.  Then they returned to Michigan for the work.  Being a Nana away from her grands now, I can see how that must have broken her heart.

 These are the grandparents that owned honky tonks and truck stops. I could go to the cooler and get my own Nugrape or Chocolate Soldier ( which is kind of like Yoohoo). This is the lady that swore her grandmother was a full blooded Cherokee and that Elvis and his band would come in to her" Dew Drop Inn" or "The Palmer House"  (I don't remember which one)   for burgers after playing county fairs.  Is it true?  Elvis did perform in that area of the country.  I'm sure she remembered it as it might have been and then it became true to her.  But, heck, it makes a great story.

She taught me how to "prime the pump" of the well in the front yard.  Yes, they had indoor plumbing but I think that pump was a leftover from the days when they didn't.  That pump provided great summertime fun. I remember us kids pumping buckets full of water and throwing them on each other.

Nothing felt as wonderful as pulling back the thin chenille bedspread and laying down on cool fresh sheets, with the fan blowing across you.  Tired from playing in the sun and full of love and joy at just being there.

So on these stifling days, I can take a little trip, in my mind, to visit Mamaw and Papaw again.  That's one good thing about being my age.  I don't mind owning these daydreams.


Gran said...

I grew up in upstate New York, where the summers can be sweltering (nothing like Missouri, I have to admit, went to grad school in 1995-96, phew). These sound like wonderful daydreams; thanks for sharing them with us!

Intense Guy said...

This is beautiful, poignant writing. Such sweet memories of a "simpler" time.

I'm sure your meemaw was much like mine. A special woman -

Mine would come down to the shore in the dog days of August (and July too) and stand in a cramped kitchen frying the daily catch of seafood and some big purple eggplants fresh from the market. I've often wondered how she managed the stiffling heat - but I guess she really never knew "air conditioning" and wasn't "spoiled" by it.

(Florida) Girl said...

This is such a touching post. I love these images. They felt like home.

Kathy said...

Nice memories. Sometimes I sit under the A/C and wonder how I ever lived the first 12 years of my life without one. Then I remember my grandma. She didn't have a/c until she was a very old lady...nor did she have indoor plumbing.

Oh, about the tape over the check engine light. We were told about that years ago when our van light stayed on. LOL My daughter has the van now, and the light is still on--10 years later!

Far Side of Fifty said...

Great memories..funny how the warm weather triggers thoughts of times long ago. I love my AC..but I grew up without it..and we survived..if it got real warm we would sleep in the basement. I have been thinking about swimming and some of the lakes we used to visit..and the feel of an ice cold bottle of coke.
Your Grandparent sound interesting..I bet your Meemaw saw Elvis..what fun!:)

mary said...

What fun memories! Since we are close to the same age they sound like they could be mine, as well, despite growing up in different parts of the country. I was particularly jolted by the memory of Mom throwing her arm in front of me when she put on the brakes. I have to confess, it is a habit I have acquired with my (grown ) kids despite the fact that every car they have ever been in has had seat belts!

Chocolate Covered Daydreams said...

I'm fanning myself just from reading this. It's actually in the 70's here in Oregon so I'm feeling pretty grateful.

Your Meemaw sounds like she was wonderful!

Thanks for the great congratulations and compliments.

(Florida) Girl said...

With your permission, I would love to quote a portion of this post and link back from my blog for one of my 'Tell me the Truth' segments.

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