It must have been around 1957. We pulled into the white gravel driveway. The gate of the chain link fence was open, anticipating our arrival. I was very focused at such a young age, three, maybe three and a half. Even though, I was nervous, I took everything in. A big, white house with a large front porch. The shutters were dark green. My mother and I got out of the car, she took me by the hand, almost dragging me to the front door.
There was a small walkway from the gravel drive to the three concrete steps to the porch. I liked the large wooden porch. I hid behind my Mom as she knocked on the
screen door, for the door was also open, like the gate.
Alma opened the screen door, but no one really moved, even though she asked us to come in. I had quite the grip on my Mom’s skirt, and Alma s youngest boy, Glenn was also hiding behind her. I was here to meet my new babysitter.
Then a gregarious boy, about 7 years old came to the door without his shirt. Neither Mom nor Alma could moved, so he shoved the screen door open and announced to me and his younger brother, “Aww… C mon, let’s PLAY!
Alma scolded him to put his shirt on, and once Mom peeled me from her skirt, and finally entered the house, Kenny, now with his shirt on was back, and off we went to play, although I don t have a clue as to what we played, I think we just got to know each other. There seemed to be an instant liking between us. Little did I know at the time, these two boys would someday, become my brothers and the Wilkinson s would be my family!
I didn’t t see much of the house that day, but I was back the next day, and began to
stay there more and more and for longer periods of time. I actually got my own room.
It had a big bed , with a white chenille bedspread. It was so tall, I needed help getting into it. I was there so much, Alma purchased a little wooden step stool, two steps, so I could climb into my big bed. It had white sheer curtains with ruffles. I even received an antique vanity with triple mirrors and a small stool to sit down. It had tiny drawers for all my treasures.
The living room was like a giant square, with printed heavy curtains that were so long
they went all the way to the ceiling. There was a giant picture window above the sofa and more windows on the side and a brown cuckoo cloth that was fascinating to me. When I would hear it , I’d take off from wherever I was in the house, to see the bird pop out.
There were wood floors, big beautiful lamps, and right off the living room was the dining room. Being three, everything seemed out of proportion, the large wooden table , with Windsor dining chairs, that I couldn’t t pull out to sit in. The boys would help me, I had a cushion, and sometimes phone books to set on.
I was also in awe of the boys room. It was so large they had two full size beds, and still
Plenty of room in the middle for a full size train set. That was tons of un. Norman Rockwells hung on the walls. I don t know that they were originals.
Attached to the back of the house was an enclosed porch that was the same width as the entire house. You entered it from the kitchen and from the outside. It must have had hundreds of jalousie windows. That was something I had never seen, it was quite fun to roll them in and out with the cranks. It was packed full. Washer and dryer. A bed. Sometimes bicycles when they weren’t being used. Kid sized furniture.
I loved when it rained, it was the only time the boys would play what I wanted. Dolls and tea parties. I had a set of child size blue willow dishes, real glass. Alma would give us treats and cafe au lait, mostly milk , and some kind of pastry or cookie. Glenn the Gemini, we played the best together, we were exactly eight months apart in age. We played, the best, but fought the most. Kenny always silly, sticking his pinkie out for tea, making fun and always making us laugh, even at the dinner table as teenagers.
If the weather was nice , we were always outside, and I loved it. Alma said when she
brought me In for bath, I would be as dirty as the boys, only more baby frogs in my pockets than the boys combined. All that property. I had no idea the acreage, but our house 1111 Cloverleaf was on one corner, and Alma’s parents on the other, in a very old home, but I liked it too. Grampa s garage was in the middle of the two houses. We had big stepping stones all the way to each house.
Grandpa was a quarter Cherokee, he would tell us. He made Glenn and I stick horses. Grandma was a Sunday school teacher, we could never play cards in front of here. She was stern, not too much, but I rarely saw her smile. Her kitchen had a giant glass jar always filled with sugar, with the red Mr. Peanut. She made Lot s of pies. My favorite was butterscotch, with the high meringue, depending on the humidity in Houston. I always had to smell her perfume when I went to the bathroom, that little cobalt blue bottle.
A few years later Alma and her Mother went shopping, Glenn and I heard a lot of goings on and fussing that grandpa had better get out there and get that old argage painted. The paints been sitting there for a while. He was getting pretty old and he said he needed to rest awhile and for the two of us to stay inside or right in the front yard, no further. Well, Glenn, and I decided heck we can paint the garage for Grandpa. So off we went.
By the time the ladies got home , they looked Horrified. We painted one whole side of it , and we were feeling pretty proud of ourselves. We were covered head to toe in white paint, quite a bit was spilled. No ladder, so only painted from the ground up , but only as far as we could reach. It was pretty jagged looking. We just didn’t t understand why everyone was so upset. Poor Gramps got in worse trouble for not watching us.
So the more I stayed, the more I liked it. It felt like home and family, and normal, and the best part is there were meals, regular meals. I remember before there or when I was back with my Mom , in two whole days all I had was a 7 Up and a bag of chips. I whined and begged enough, someone in the bar said here let’s get you some chips. So that house was one of my favorites for many reasons: To be continued.