FOF sister, Shelley, and I took the train to Hartford, CT. yesterday, so we could check out an event called the Women’s Expo. On the way to the Expo Center, I asked the taxi driver if he’d stop at Kent Street. That’s where my grandma Rosie and grandpa Sam lived when I was growing up and I have fond memories of my visits. There were two types of excursions, either a weekend visit with my parents and two sisters or alone for an extended stay.
I slept in grandma’s living room, on the odd-shaped forties sofa, when the whole family traveled. The makeshift “bed” wasn’t especially comfortable, but still, I loved making myself all cozy on a cold winter Saturday night, while all the grownups sat around the dining room table gabbing about goodness-knows-what and having coffee and cake.
I slept in a real bedroom when I visited my grandparents, sans family, often over Christmas vacation. One holiday, grandma and I were consumed with finding an outline map of Europe, because I had ruined the one I was supposed to color in for my homework project. I was in 6th grade. After we traipsed over every street and into dozens of stores in downtown Hartford, with no success, we returned home, where I sat in her big kitchen, distraught. How would I ever be able to do my project?
It suddenly occurred to grandma that her cousin, a teacher, might have an outline map. Happily, he did. When I brought it into the kitchen to start my coloring, grandpa suggested that he do it for me. He had artistic talent, so I gladly agreed. Grandpa used a different watercolor for each country and wrote in their names with his beautiful printing. I gazed at the map for years. I wish I had kept it.
When the taxi driver stopped today in front of grandma’s house, I looked up at the living room windows and thought about my nights on the sofa, just beyond them. I also thought about how much my grandparents loved me. The last time I saw the house was about 35 years ago, when my widowed grandma moved to New York to be near her daughter (my mother) and her son. The street looked as I remembered it and the house was repainted and in good shape.
Hartford is a dramatically different city than it was a half century ago. When we reached the Expo Center, Shelley turned to me and said: “I imagined that we’d go into grandma’s house and she’d be there.”
Maybe she is.