Tuesday, 25 September 2012
Saturday Night on Main Street
By Marcy Belson
Do you remember when the Salvation Army Band played music on downtown street corners?
In the little town where I lived as a child, my aunt and uncle would go to town on Saturday night after supper. I was often the extra child in the car. My uncle would park as close to the corner as possible and they would sit in the car and listen to the music.
Simple pleasures, in those days of hard work and not much money.
The cars parked next to us would have other families, sometimes from the same neighborhood, mostly all known to each other. Because of that, the children were allowed to get out of the warm cars and "window shop.” We would be admonished to stay together, to not go further than we could be seen by the family and mostly, to be quiet, so they could hear the music.
I considered these outings to be special time. I didn't care or listen to the music. I loved to have my friends and cousins around me and pretend we could buy the goods shown in the windows. We were playing "grown ups.”
All of this came back to me tonight as I was talking on the phone to a cousin who calls me almost every week. Our grandmothers were sisters in that little town. My grandmother would call her sister every morning and they would discuss the family at length.
To my young ears, it sounded as if the only subject was what each relative had died from or what illness had preceded their death. I knew better than to broach the subject with my grandmother, but I did question my mother as to why they seem to have the same conversation every day. (At the time, my grandparents were living with us while they waited for a house my father owned.)
I think my mother laughed and told me to mind my manners. Manners were a big thing in our household. There were lots of rules to follow.
I was to call my grandparents "Grandmother" and "Grandfather," not a shortened version such as Granny or Grandma and Grandpa. When I questioned this, she told me it was a matter of respect. No adult was ever called by their first name.
At family dinners, the men were served first, then the women and children ate. Bedtime was strictly observed, with no nonsense allowed.
If the screen door was not closed quietly, I had to go pick a switch from a china berry tree, strip the leaves and hand it to my mother, who then used it on my backside. It wasn't terribly hurtful but the indignity of having to pick a switch and bring it in the house was awful.
I wish I could have one of those Saturday nights back again, right now.
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