Radishes and chicken elicit memories of Mom-Mom

Posted on July 31, 2014 by Leave a comment

The radishes were radiant, tied up in a hefty bundle, the bright red orbs topped with green leaves, at the farm stand I visited on Tuesday.

I never see radishes that I don’t think of Mom-Mom and how much she loved them. She’d cut them in half, then pop them into a glass of ice water in the fridge to keep them cold and crisp for a tasty snack, sprinkled with salt – lots of it – when she made dinner. One time, she ate so many radishes that she got sick to her stomach and went to bed with a bellyache.

I made her chicken this week, too. It’s a recipe I learned long ago – at least 50 years or more – when I was dating John and spending weekends with the Tuttles.

Simple and tasty, it’s just baked chicken rolled in melted butter and breadcrumbs, seasoned with curry powder and parsley, and popped in the oven. But then, the crowning glory, about five minutes before it’s done, you smear it with a little mayo and put it back in the over until the mayo turns golden and bubbly.

We have fish most nights, but John never says “no,” when I suggest we have Mom-Mom’s chicken for dinner.

All week long, Mom-Mom has been on my mind as the family celebrates her life and lays her to rest in Cape May. She requested it in her will, and, while it took a full year, it’s finally happened.

We are not there to participate, as John recovers from heart problems. But we’re there in spirit, doing our best to participate through texts, pictures and Facebook comments.

And at home, I wear my Cape May shirt, make Mom-Mom’s chicken, eat radishes and remember.

A quirky little square on an autumn afternoon

Posted on October 5, 2013 by Leave a comment

Spent about an hour in Congress Square on Friday, waiting for repair on my iPhone and taking in the ambience of this quirky little slice of downtown Portland, Maine.

There was a craft fair going. It happens the first Friday of every month, explained a well-dressed gray-haired woman in the music studio/art gallery that shares space with my tech guy fixing the phone.

Gazing out the window from her second floor perch, she said, “Look at those pot holders she’s making. They remind me of my grandmother’s.”

Indeed, the lady below had heaps of kitschy potholders and tissue box covers, crafted in garish hues like magenta and burgundy. They recalled a time in the ‘80s when the covers were a home décor fashion statement with craft fair fans. The lady crafting them wasn’t selling any, but that didn’t stop her from frenetically crocheting more.

Nearby, another guy was selling jewelry between nuzzling with his pug-nosed bulldog – so ugly he was cute. And a dozen other crafters plied their wares from haphazard tables set up around the plaza — all manner of stuff that no one needs but everyone looks at.

There was music, too, and an odd assortment of blacksmiths demonstrating their trade to those who stopped to look. Not sure why they were there, but it added to the square’s eccentricity, along with the anticipation in the throngs passing through, happily punch drunk on a late Friday afternoon in early October as they considered possibilities for the weekend ahead.

Congress Square is in the midst of change — developers want to gentrify it with a new hotel and visitor’s center. But the people who claim this park as their own have staged a protest at Portland City Hall and were out in force, too, on Friday with signs demanding that the city let the “people’s park” prevail.

I kept looking around for a familiar face, for this square and all its hipness and coolness and yes, weirdness, reminded me a little of Lowell and its array of quirky characters.

I half expected to see Kathleen Pierce and her artist husband Patrick mingling with the musicians, blacksmiths, art students, homeless and hipsters that made up this mass of people. They’ve moved to Portland and it seemed like their kind of place.

My own preppy persona didn’t fit in. I should have had on black with a scarf looped around my neck, not the turquoise T-shirt, flowered top and sneakers I’d put on that morning.

And my white hair made me stand out among this younger, hipper crowd.

As I left to retrieve my car, I felt relief but sadness, too. I used to love cities – couldn’t get enough of them. Now I crave quiet, calm, the peacefulness my new place affords.

Does it mean I’m getting old? Could be. But I plan to revisit Congress Square soon and assess my feelings then. But the potholder lady won’t be getting my business. I’ve passed that phase and don’t need any more kitsch cluttering my life.

Root beer floats

Posted on May 31, 2013 by Leave a comment

Jack poured the bittersweet root beer into the glass, watched as the caramel-flecked vanilla ice cream dissolved in the fizzy, dark liquid, plunged a straw into his concoction and took a satisfying sip.

 

“My mother loved root beer floats,” I told him, as he slurped on his sweet treat.

 

Indeed, Geraldine Perry Errickson Davies used to tell us stories about making root beer from scratch when she was a young lady, boiling the roots, adding sugar, then pouring the drink into bottles and sealing it for enjoyment on a summer day.

 

By the time my sisters and I arrived, Hires root beer was her chosen brand and my sisters and I would occasionally get to have a glass.

 

Jerry always brought Hires home, along with a half gallon of vanilla, to make root beer floats for Josie, our jolly Polish cleaning lady.

 

Josie slaved at our house twice a week, washing the floors on her hands and knees and ironing sheets, curtains, dresses and our father’s shirts to crisp perfection. She always smelled of good, honest perspiration — no sweat — for her hard work. Her pay was $8 a day, plus lunch and those scrumptious root beer treats with my mother at the end of a long work day.

 

Jack loves root beer floats as much as his great-grandmother, I think. She’d love this sweet boy, too, I’m sure and be happy that they share such sweet connection.

 

 

 

Jenkinson’s and the Jersey Shore

Posted on May 30, 2013 by Leave a comment

 

President Obama’s stroll on the Point Pleasant boardwalk this week lulled me back six decades to lazy summer days when I walked the boards there myself, enjoying Jenkinson’s and the Jersey Shore.

The President challenged Gov. Christie to an arcade game, one that Christie won and then gave the prize to Obama.

That simple gesture reminded me of ski-ball, our favorite game each summer that my sisters and I played with a vengeance, wracking up points for tickets and finally earning enough to bring some stuffed treasure home for ourselves.

We always went for the brass ring on the merry-go-round, too. Do today’s carousels offer such a challenge? Not likely, since it’s too much liability for the ride’s owners, if someone fell off.

We had no such worries in the 1950s. We’d mount an outside steed, or boldly stand on the revolving platform, holding on to a pole and grabbing for rings as the ride passed the dispenser. The boldest riders even pulled a few rings out each time they rode by, risking a fall for the thrill of the challenge.

Excitement reigned if we got the coveted brass one, then picked up the free ticket for another ride. It didn’t matter that our rides were always free. Elmo, the owner, refused money from dad even though he always tried to shove a few dollars through the window of the ticket box, where she sat beside the colorful carousel. Elmo was my mother’s classmate. They were friends. And friends didn’t pay for rides on her merry-go-round, she always told us.

More memories flourish — eating frozen custard, not ice cream and Frank’s caramel corn, the best I’ve ever tasted, sweet and crunchy and crafted by another of mom’s childhood pals.  Riding the beach train from Jenkinson’s north to south pavilion down by the inlet. The rocking chairs at Jenkinson’s situated on a pavilion that jutted out over the ocean so you could see waves lapping at the beach through the boards below the rockers. Savory Manhattan-style clam chowder, made with chewy clams, tomatoes, celery and carrots, not cream. Lazy, hot days on the beach. The smell of Coppertone and riding the waves. Colorful beach tags pinned to our suits. Being buried in the sand. Sitting naked in a tub outside mom’s childhood home, rinsing the sand off, since Aunt Jane, our maiden aunt who owned the old homestead, had decreed that no sand should be tracked into her home.

These are the Point Pleasant memories I treasure. And seeing the people and the President enjoying Jenkinson’s this week made me happy that my Jersey Shore is back and summer can begin again.

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