I am watching the Sun set on the Hollywood Hills and the smell of charcoal is wafting in….

June 16, 2012

Which takes me back to my childhood…and the barbecues we use to have at our summer home in Cable Wisconsin…

it brings back wonderful memories…Mom’s Christian Science friend…Connie Dillingham (whom I have  ALWAYS adored!!) pouring Dad’s bourbon on the simpering charcoal…saying to my father “Bob we need to get this lit… and you don’t need this…well if you did it is too late….”

I had this bar of soap I got at the Ritz Hotel in Madrid….many years ago…and I thought what the F ..am I saving this bloody thing for…..so I opened it…and SHOCK….

the scent of my grandmother’s wonderfully warm bathroom   ….(a place of calm for me when I was a child)… lavender tiled bathroom (in St Paul Minnesota)… …purple everything…..towels…and the tub was one of those old deep tubs…no shower…..well the memory like a lightening bolt FLASHED back…I was there…..and it was soo wonderful!!!!!

The soap is green…and has “PUIG” engraved on it….I totally have fallen in love with it…as it brings back such wonderful  memories…

I went on line…and found out that PUIG is still very much in business…is an old Spanish company…and was able to order  it from even Amazon…(don’t know why I say “even” as Amazon seems to reach everywhere)….the soap I ordered is not exactly the same though … but close enough to make me feel warmly reflective….

ahh my grandparents….can see her urine stained old corsets  drying on the radiator near the back room ( the room my sister called the “rat room” as she was moved  there after I was born… from the sunny room where my bassinet was placed when I all smiley came back from the hospital in mom’s arms)…..

at 825 Fairmount Avenue….

can smell the coffe percolating up…and the freshly squeezed orange juice…..and going to the kitchen down the back stairs which were narrow…and built originally for the maids who lived on the 3rd floor….and her house still had the bell system…where in the butler’s pantry and in the maids rooms on the 3rd floor you could see what room was calling you……there was even a button under the carpet in their dining room to ring for a maid…or the butler..

but my grands did not have maids or servants….well they did have a laundress..(white by the way…I frankly do not remember a person of color ever in St Paul…everyone was Irish or Scandinavian  back then).. .and the first washing machine ever …where there was an electric roller in the back to squeeze out the water from the clothes…and all the washing was hung on a clothes line to dry outside..

(near the alley where the produce/fruit man would arrive in  his horse driven cart  once a week)

…….except in the winter of course when it was hung in the basement…down near the furnace…..

my grands always came up to our summer home…up the mile long drive in from the main road…and as they had passed the “BIG Hill”….and were approaching the Main House…they would honk…which would send us children running out to their Caddie to see what they had brought….I ALWAYS looked for the pink boxes with all the pastries from their wonderful bakery in St Paul….and they brought the best cuts of steak …to be barbecued…..

our houses had NO electricity…as it was a mile in from the main  road….so it was always kerosene lamps…and a gas lamp over the gas stove…..

the ice box was originally one that you had to put block of ice in…as they had not invented gas refrigerators yet

……and the water was pumped up from a gas pump into a VERY high..on stilts….. wooden water tank….the few times I heard mom curse …saying a lot of “Gosh Darns” was when she would have to kick start the engine (which did not always easily start) to pump the water into the tank…and the reason she would have to  go out and pump it in the flash lit  black of night …was because my father was playing backgammon with his brother…my Uncle Sumner….never forget one morning I awoke and could not believe they were STILL playing and my uncle was STILL drinking his Bourbon and Ginger……as they were shaking their die…..

we of course did not have garbage disposals or garbage pickups…

recycling was a dream to appear in the future…

we had a garbage dump…out beyond the incinerator…where we burned all the papers….but the dump beyond the outhouse ..a two holer…..which I WILL NEVER forget…as I always felt the boogey man was  waiting for me down there…and we had to toss lye  down there after we had used it  …..

bears would come to the dump…. we DID have a garbage can closer…

(which they would invade and us 5 children be shocked out of our reverie  on the sleeping porch sit bolt upright with our  L’il Annie Orphan eyes…….hoping they would not come eat us)

….near the garage..which reminds me of the HUGE Texaco drum that held the kerosene for the lamps in the back of it  where also the kindling wood was kept for the fireplace….the garage was really not a garage as no car could ever be placed there…..I was about to say it was really a tool shed…but it wasn’t as..

well the house next to it in which the ice was stored in sawdust, blocks of ice cut from the Lake the winter before,so they did not melt …was later turned into the tool shed….

it is funny but long after the Ice house became the Tool shed…it still  had a sawdust floor…and it was ALWAYS so much cooler …as if the ghosts of those long ago used ice blocks were still there……….

so thank you Madrid Ritz…..for the wonderful memories that you unbeknownst brought back….

Nothing like opening up a present you gave me 20 years ago……(sigh!!!)

(hmm I have an Hermes box of soap from the Plaza Athenee…..no think I will wait……..)

3 Responses to “I am watching the Sun set on the Hollywood Hills and the smell of charcoal is wafting in….”

  1. ron said

    Always enjoy! and brings back memories to you too.

  2. Robby, this is beautiful writing. I’d love to see a collection of these specific memories all in one volume. You bring us right back to the specific moment in time when a doorway opens in the smallest detail and we walk through to a place of true family warmth and generosity!

    • Rob said

      Thanks Rick…coming from you that means a lot…as you,Daidie and Sumner…. are the TRUE writers in the family….I just enjoy putting words together – like a jigsaw puzzle….never quite sure what tableau will be created….

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