Warm Welcome

Until I was three years old, I lived down the street from all of my grandparents, on East Avenue, in the small town of Attica, New York. When my family moved to Michigan, ‘home’ was still Attica for a long time. We visited often, traveling by cramped car – my parents and, eventually, four kids. […]

Open Arms

Inside the front door stood another grand lady – the tall, oak hall-tree. She was tucked into an alcove under the winding staircase, dressed in a colorful costume of coats and sweaters. Black umbrellas were propped at her side – tips pointed down into a round, brass drip pan. She was stately – in an […]

Baked Apples

The cast iron radiators that hissed heat into that rambling brick house were unique to a child who lived with floor vents and furnaces in more modern homes. They served their purpose well – keeping the cold Attica winters at bay. But they went ‘above and beyond’ when after a cold, damp morning of snowmen, […]


Until the late 1960’s, Attica maintained operator assisted phone service, using three digit phone numbers. In this small town, rotary dial telephones were still considered the stuff of science fiction. The caller would lift the heavy, black receiver from its cradle, wait for an operator to say, “Number Please” – and then be connected to […]


In the front parlor rested a settee, stuffed with horsehair to the point of concrete solidity. Covering its equine interior was rich upholstery of green and gold striped velvet. Ornately carved wood flanked its back and bottom. It was, however, as uncomfortable as it was attractive. Urban legend has it that my grandfather would enjoy […]

Joyful Mysteries

A mahogany library table stood next to my grandmother’s rocking chair in the east corner of her wide, open living room. And resting on the crocheted table scarf were her daily essentials – smooth, black rosary beads, a soft pack of Chesterfield cigarettes, and a small silk change purse. My grandmother said the rosary at […]

Set For Sunday

On Sunday we would go to mass at Saint Vincent’s Church, and in the wintertime my grandmother would invariably wear her black, Persian lamb coat and hat. That coat might well have out-weighed her tall, upright piano, from what I could tell. To this day, I don’t know how her slender frame supported the bulk […]

Pray For Us Sinners

In a grotto at the curve of the wide front staircase stood a statue of the Virgin Mary. She was draped in her signature blue robe, and held her arms outstretched in fervent supplication. She watched over us with a serene and patient countenance, seeming to beseech us to ‘simply behave like civilized human beings.’ […]

Bewitching Hour

My cousin, Mary, and I usually slept together in the four-poster bed in the ‘spare room.’ I am not at all sure why it was referred to as ‘spare’ when all the bedrooms upstairs were by then unoccupied. The sprawling ‘front room’ was the one my grandparents had shared until my grandfather died and my […]

Bubbles Doubled

There was one large bathroom upstairs and it seemed immense in comparison to the small, utilitarian bathrooms in our compact, ranch house in Michigan. It allowed for a large rectangular sink at one end, a tall double hung window to the west, a toilet with a state-of-the-art push button flusher, and last but not least, […]

Dressing Grandma

At the top of the back stairs was what might have been a fifth bedroom, but for my grandparents’ purposes was used as a sewing room. It housed hulking, camel back trunks filled with out-of-season or out-of-style clothing. But they were treasure chests for girls ‘on the hunt.’ Once we found an old baby doll […]

Pedal The Treadle

The treadle sewing machine stood center stage in the sewing room, and it was an instrument of fascination. The mere act of threading the needle seemed to require precision well beyond that of ordinary humans. And steering the fabric under the presser foot, while pedaling in methodical rhythm was like driving a manual transmission automobile […]

Doing Dishes

The sink in the kitchen was nearly deep enough to bathe in, and it clung to the wall, with gleaming pipes exposed below. I was impressed by its girth, and the glow of its sparkling white porcelain. Each morning my grandmother would stand at that sink, and run the hot water until it rushed steaming […]

It’s The Berries

Along the fence that bordered the apple orchard was a row of raspberry bushes. When the fruit was in season, we would be allowed to take small crockery bowls from the pantry out to pick berries for our breakfast. We’d return with bowls brimming, our harvest warm from the morning sun, and Grandma would pour […]

Pie’d Piper

The long, tall pantry was the most prized room in the house. Or so I thought. Its shelves ran floor to ceiling and were filled with pots and pans, dishes, canned goods, the cookie jar, AND my grandmother’s yogurt jar. She kept live yogurt culture in a canning jar, and processed it nightly – by […]

Apple Bobbing

The red cast iron water pump, with its swan-necked handle, stood on a wooden platform outside the kitchen door. And while it had long since been rendered nearly obsolete by the addition of indoor plumbing, it maintained […]

Raising Flags

My grandmother possessed a bright grass-green thumb, and she raised a wide variety of alluring flowers. Her esteemed irises grew tall and stately along the wall of the barn, and against the lattice of the veranda – boasting blossoms of deep purple and vibrant yellow. She called them ‘flags’ – a name used by gardeners […]

Spinning Our Wheels

The brawny red barn out back was a massive white elephant. It no longer held livestock, if it ever had. Its hollyhock trellised walls housed an automobile that never moved. And most of its treasures had been buried there, untouched, for years. But we searched it top to bottom for links to our mothers’ childhoods. […]