Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Summer when I was 15

Seeing a post by a friend on Facebook this morning about her 12 year old granddaughter visiting her for a couple of weeks made me remember my 15th summer.

My grandmother ran a little hotel in a small town. She got down and spent the summer in bed and needed help. I was supposed to visit her for a couple of weeks, but I asked to be allowed to spend the summer with her and my folks agreed.

We found a lady to do the real running of the hotel but I helped in many ways. I shared a room with this lady and we became good friends. They were were building a new highway through the small town and the road crews and their families were staying at the hotel. The men had to be at work at 6 am and that was before the cooks arrived. So I got up each morning and their wives also got up to join them for breakfast so one of my jobs was to cook the meal. I got to know these people quite well and we became friends..some were not much older than I was and we would sit in the lobby and play games or go to the movie theatre up the street together. After I left at the end of the summer, I never heard from any of them again and often wondered what had become of them.

There was one young man who was only a year older than I was and we became close. So close until he thought we should marry but I had other ideas about that. On Sunday afternoons we were allowed to have some young people from town in to make fudge or whatever we wanted in the huge kitchen provided we cleaned up afterward and didn't leave a mess for the supper crew to clean up. At this time, there was no other place in town to eat except for an ice cream parlor so her dining room was always full of people from town for Sunday meals and during the week most of the working people in town came there. And was that food ever good. She had a staff of 6 to work the kitchen and about the same amount of people to do the cleaning and laundry. She raised her own chickens in the back of the hotel for slaughtering also. I managed to avoid that job.

There was a boy there with his folks who was 3 years younger than I was and he fell for me also. You haven't lived until you have a boy just beginning puberty following you around. But I was nice to him and the other young man and I let him tag along with us to the movies. We had no transportation so we walked every evening all over town for a couple of hours talking. Usually the 3 of us.

One Sunday afternoon we got into my grandmother's homemade wine and that is the sickest I have ever been in my life and the drunkest. The boys walked me for hours to wear it off. The next morning I had a rash from head to foot and could barely stand. I am sure my grandmother wondered why she didn't see me that day but I couldn't face her.

Sometimes, on weekends, my mother and father would drive the 90 plus miles to visit with my grandmother and to see me.

As the summer progressed, I could see my grandmother weakening. At night, I would go into the kitchen and fix salads and things I thought she might enjoy as she had no appetite by then and she ate some of it just to please me.

When I left for home to start the new school session, I knew I would never get another chance to spend any time with her. During the Christmas season she passed away. How it hurt and how I loved her.

Of all the summers of my life, this is the one that I cherish the most--the time I spent with her and learning responsibility which has stayed with me for a lifetime.

Sometimes still I can catch a scent that reminds me of her perfume and I think of the summer when I was 15 and the world was mine.

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