Jump to content

To the Mrs. Larsons and Miss Helen's of the world


Lily Valley

Recommended Posts

Growing up in one of the last bastions of Mayberry city life, I frequently found myself unsupervised.  There were two older ladies who lived on my block.  Miss Helen and Mrs. Larson.  They both had lived there for over 40 years.  They tolerated one another, as neighbors do.  They had one thing in common.  Us brats.

Miss Helen had plum trees and apple trees in her yard which we raided shamelessly.  Mrs. Larson kept a big bowl of candy on her front porch that she politely ignored after offering it up to hungry and greedy raiders.  Both ladies would brew pot after pot of tea which we drank with sugar.  In hindsight, I am sure we were annoying, filthy and exhausting.  

Did any of you grow up around such ladies?  What did you make of them?  What did they tell you?  I learned about the history of every house on my street.  I learned about war.  I learned about black and white photos and kindness.  Disputes were settled.  Petty wars ended.  They were a huge part of my childhood.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We had Mrs. McPhee. I learned about getting paid by the hour  -  50 cents an hour for shoveling snow. Her house was haunted so the neighborhood kids learned to find courage by sticking together when we had to cut through her yard. She taught us that people keep secrets when she paid us to clear out her basement and we discovered all of her empty gin bottles. Every kid should have a Mrs. McPhee in their neighborhood.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As a rural Michigan grade schooler I got to know Mrs Miller. She was this fascinating elderly lady directly across the road to my parents lot. She would pay me to mow her lawn and shovel snow. I got more money from other customers but I didnt mind. She would often stop me in the middle of chores and have me try some delicious treat she whipped up from scratch, lemonaide, cookies or something with the most perfect gravy I ever tasted. She was a Cajun woman from Louisianna originally. I remember one summer day she had me go with her in the wee hours to a nearby pond where she introduced me (as only a bayou native could) to the fine art of frogging, lolol. I remember being so impressed that this old lady would even know about our secret pond, I thought it was a place that only us neighborhood kids ever knew about. She was probably nearly 80 years old at that time and had no compunction over mucking around that pond, I was pretty humbled to see an adult do that let alone an elder lady. I mean we (neigbor kids) would think we were so cool when we would get wet or muddy and figured no way could these adults understand how fun this was.

And I learned that properly prepared frog legs were pretty similar to chicken wings to my young palate. Pretty unique neighbor she was, still remember her well.

Frog legs are frikn tasty, dont knock them till you try them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I had Aunt Brenda and Aunt Monique.  Aunt Brenda was my next door neighbor.  And she was basically a second mom.  She was a registered nurse and then a np with an anesthesiology specialty.  She could fix any boo boo.  She made amazing homemade peach icecream.  She loved to garden and we could always muck around in her garden.  We ran tame in her house (always unlocked) and yard.  We fed her dogs and cats and horse (who loved coming over and eating windfall apples from under our tree).  When she died two years ago, I felt like I had lost a family member.  I'm still close to her children (who were my babysitters).  She was a very special lady and I miss her very much.

Aunt Monique is a conundrum.  She is a Belgian lady who has lived all over the world.  She basically likes animals more than people but put up with us because her dog (a Belgian shepherd trained as a guard dog when they lived in Africa) liked us.  She taught me to speak French (which I still speak with a Belgian accent).  Her mother, who was a Parisian by birth and who even into her late 80s dressed impeccably, taught me how to play chess and how to have proper manners at a dinner or tea party.  She's completely crazy though.  Which is fine.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mr Lawler.  We lived in row houses and he was our neighbor.  he owned a dive bar downtown, oddly enough, and he had a sweet german shepherd that used yo hang out on our shared porch all the time.

Limitless supply of candy and odd, simple jobs that allowed us to earn some cash on the side.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mr. and Mrs. Dodds. They lived next door and their house smelled kind of funny. They always had the best cookies though and I used to water their flowers for them. They had the best stories about what life was like when they were growing up.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can't remember her name now (but remember her son's name who I never spoke to, weird--Sal (Saul?), he didn't get married until his late 40's, he was mostly grey by then and "really old" :P ) She lived upstairs from me (a duplex) and she taught me to use the sewing machine my father had bought for my aunt when she lived with us, and would examine my crochet projects.

I remember going to visit her  after she moved (when her son got married) and she gave us cupcakes. Funny how an older woman living alone still always had cupcakes or cookies on hand for young visitors.

ok, it's killing me that I can't recall her name off the top of my head.  I can name nearly everyone else on my street. (I'm sure I'll remember as soon as I stop thinking about it)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I currently live in a town that looks like a Norman Rockwell painting. My kids have Miss Patty. Our neighbor who just retired from BOCES as a librarian. She's been widowed for years and has three grown children who don't live close. Patty has an Irish Wolfhound, Duncan, who my kids love. She drops off fresh baked treats and fresh eggs from her sister's farm. The kids are welcome to pick blackberries from the tangle behind her carriage house. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

I had a small army of women like this that taught me about fashion, gardening, and getting crap done.  Two of them were my grandmothers.

I don't know how I got so blessed with strong women in my life, but it seems like I've always been surrounded by ladies who did what the hell they wanted, when they wanted to, and didn't worry about what people thought.  I'm so grateful for that.

I remember Mrs. Charlene's roses...they were amazing.  She always wore hot pink lipstick, even with blue jeans.  She wore her hair in a page boy and smelled like Arpege perfume.  She was the epitome of class.  My grandmother wore Jungle Gardenia, chain smoked, and told dirty jokes.  I adored her.  I still miss her terribly.

Both of my grandmothers told me all about my mother and dad, and how terrible they were as children.  I loved that and would beg to hear these stories over and over, and they would just get worse with each  re-telling.

I cannot wait to pull this trick on my kid. :D 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...