Thursday, September 15, 2011

Adventures from Home: Hanging out with Daddy

When Alfred and I were little girls, our grandma would watch us while Mommy and Daddy were at work.  We’d spend our summer days running a muck around Grandma and Grandpa’s old Victorian home.  Playing tag around the outside of the house, swinging on the wooden swing on the front porch, imagining what it might be like to slide down the banister, jump over the railing from the floor above or do other crazy things our Uncle Steven had done has a kid.  (Though I don’t think we ever imagined launching ourselves through the plate glass front window.)

Grandma and Grandpa’s house was like a giant castle to us, full of games, toys, surprises and spooks.  The basement terrified us.  A trap door into a damp and murky 100+ year-old place is creepy enough, but those added psychedelic paintings my aunts put on the bricks in the 1960s were even more frightening.  The servant stairs also scared us a bit, but they were still one of our favorite places to play.  And of course, there were the piles and piles of books, the dollhouse with its adorable pink appliances and the puzzles Grandma was always doing.

Being at Grandma and Grandpa’s was great in itself, but there some adventures on which Grandma would take us that beat any fun we could have inside.  On really, really special days, we’d get to go visit Grandpa and Daddy at work!

The office was just a few blocks from Grandma and Grandpa’s house.  We’d go out the backdoor, through the laundry room that always smelled like a mix of dryer vent and fresh air, down the cement steps, past the iron water pump, to the back corner of the yard.  Here, there was a magical hidden gate that only Grandma and Grandpa could find.  (Probably because Alfred and I were too short to see it among the vines.)  Grandma would open the gate and help us down the steep stone steps into the alley.   We’d head down the alley to the main street, turn up the street, pass the large cemetery where my namesake is buried and head to the busy street of the Office.

The Office was built by my great-grandpa many years ago, along with several of the buildings surrounding it; including the house where he lived and my great-aunt still resides.  With it’s regal red brick, white painted shutters, high columns and green ivy wrapping around the corners, it always look steady, important, classic, and just like the doll house at Grandma’s.  All things that made me love it.

We’d have to be very quite going into the Office, in case Grandpa or Daddy or one of the other lawyers in the building were meeting with clients.  As soon as we knew the coast was clear, we’d go bounding into their offices.  Daddy’d say “hi”, wiggle his moustache, sit back with his feet up on his desk.  Across the hall, Grandpa’d reach into his secret drawer and pull out treats for us, packs of oyster crackers and breadsticks that he’d saved from the restaurants he visited.

If we got to stay for awhile, we’d photocopy our hands on the giant Xerox machine behind the counter.  Grandpa would pull out his automobile accident reconstruction stamp collection and we would make pictures of auto accident scenes to our hearts’ content.  We’d get multi-colored paper from the cabinet and write our own stories, illustrated in highlighter and felt pen.  We always had a lot of fun and felt very special to be “behind the scenes” in the Office.

The Office is still a special place to go. Grandpa’s no longer there to share his breadsticks.  But the paintings he used to hold us up to see still hang on the walls and I imagine him asking the same questions, “what do you think is at the end of that road?”

Daddy still says “hi” and puts his feet up on the desk, but now he also says, “There’s this thing going on with these people and we need to figure out this. Can you help?”  Now there are new reasons to visit Daddy at the Office.  And they’re even more special.Daddy at the officeme at daddy's office (2)

Daddy and me at the office.


munchkinhead said...

there was a gate?!

Anonymous said...

I know you were young, so memories have a way of overlapping themselves, but I don't htink you went out the gate and walked past the cemetery on the way to the office. The cemetery is to the east of the house and the office is to the west. But that's what happens to good memories, somehow they all get all mixed together. :)

goldenrail said...

Oh, you're right. The cemetary is further down Howard. I always think of it as after grandma and grandpa's house. I guess sometimes we went for a walk that way just for fun.