My best spying years were from five to eight and carried out mostly under the table when visitors came. Of course no one knew I was there, so the conversations were lively. Our family excluded, I never knew that house to be less than bursting with people of all ages, which made it a circus of laughs and noise.
One of the regulars at the dining room table was Mr. Skolarie. He was a diminutive man who dressed in a black suit and hat in all types of weather. My Mother said her brothers used to tease that their Mother was sweet on Mr. Skolarie, though Gram could eat bugs off of his head. My recollection was that he sold notions or sewing items from a cart, but who knows what his business was.
Mrs. Handley was Gram’s friend from the neighborhood. She was as big as a twig, dressed in black from head to toe. Though a sweet old lady, her black garb and scowling eyebrows intimidated me every time I saw her. I can’t remember her voice, just that dour face.
Another neighborhood friend was an actress who showed up in rainbows of colors and fashions which contrasted with Gram’s ever present house dresses. She was the polar opposite to Gram, but kept things lively and unpredictable, which was why she was so welcome.
An occasional diner was a tall broad shouldered black man who would work on the farm for food to take home to his family. He was before my time, but remembered by my Mom. When she got up in the morning, he would be at the table eating breakfast. Gram would load him up with her canned fruits and vegetables, plus whatever was fresh from the garden. She had a cold cellar that housed the stockpile of canned goods. My Grandfather fashioned it from salvaged metal and dug it into the ground . It served them well and housed the hundreds of jars of preserved foods.
A burial plot salesman from Staten Island convinced Gram to buy a family section which is where she and Grandpa are now. Thank goodness he wasn’t from Kansas. He left with much more than he came with and thank goodness he was never seen again.
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