Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Big Old House on Corona Avenue

My grandparent's house seems really old to me. I bet it's not though. It's probably from 1930, but something about it seems older. It's bigger inside than it appears to be on the outside. It's a sturdy white colonial type house with a front porch that looks out onto a busy street that was once not so busy. The house has four floors. OK, well one floor is a basement and another floor is actually an attic - but an attic that was a bedroom at one point.

One of many holiday parties in the old house - kitchen in the basement.
My great aunt, standing behind me, turned 90 the other day.

I'm not sure who slept up in that weirdly-shaped room with the very low ceiling-other than my Uncle T because when I was a little girl, he still kept his things up there. I loved looking through the old text books and groovy '70s trinkets. I loved the sound this hollow old drum made when I tapped it, though I don't know which one of my uncles actually owned it.

When I was really little, I thought the house was haunted. It would creek and feel spooky. I bet one of my uncles told me a scary story or two. They were in their teens and early 20s when I was a kid. I was the first grandchild and niece so I was kind of a big deal. 

Over the years, the house has obviously changed in many ways. It even changed when my mom was a kid. She'd tell me, this room used to look this way and that room looked that way.  The room that Aunt C slept in was actually once a screened-in porch. Where Grandma sleeps now was once a dining room with a piano. Her closet was once a food pantry. I remember tapping the keys on the old piano. My aunt could play real songs. I would beg her to play the same tunes over and over again.

My grandparents raised five kids, lots of grandchildren and a variety of mutts in that house. Many of the dogs had names that started with "P".  I'm not sure what that was about. One dog in particular, Pudgy, nipped and jumped on a five-year-old me to the point where I actually remember climbing atop a kitchen chair screaming and pleading for my life -- that may be why I detest most dogs to this day.

I know you all must be so sick of hearing about my grandparents. I blog about them constantly. I honestly spent a good portion of my childhood with them - we all did. So much in fact, that I think I dream about their house about once a week.

The dreams are weird. One dream will involve endless steps that begin in their living room and lead into a white, cloudy heaven. Another dream has an endless lawn with hills and trees, the front lawn in reality is fairly simple and not nearly as large as the one in my dream. Sometimes the house is quiet and dark and nobody is home and I'm searching for everyone. Then there's the dream I've had many times where the walk from Grandma's house is either really, really close or really, really far from the house I grew up in.

Grandma and Grandpa lived 439 houses away if you compared our addresses. We lived on the same street but in different parts of town.  We lived in their house for one year while getting established in the area. We moved out of their home when I was in first grade to our home when I was to enter second grade. That small distance was enough for the school district to kick me out (this was before my Catholic school years).  

The big old house on Corona was the end-all-be-all party compound. It was where we celebrated nearly every birthday and holiday. We'd fill the house with booming voices - my uncles competing to be heard over Grandpa's loud stern voice -- even when he said he loved you it sounded like he was scolding you, it was just his way. 

Grandma prepared more Italian eats than your favorite restaurant in Little Italy. Everything we ate had funny names I couldn't pronounce, but loved to eat. Platters filled with "bro-jute" and "bra-jole" and we'd always start off with "anty-paahst" ... good luck trying to decipher my phonetics!

Their house is much closer to my Catholic grammar school and high school than our house, so I'd often walk to Grandma's and wait for my parents to pick me up. When my brother and I were too young to walk home from grammar school, my grandma picked us up and we'd enjoy tea and toast while watching our favorite after school shows.
My aunt was only ten years older than me, she was like the cool older sister/babysitter when I was 6. She would play her Elton John and Bay City Rollers 45s for me on this big old record player that looked more like a piece of furniture than a record player. I remember I knew all of the words and I loved how the singers would spell out and chant, "S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y Night".  I loved that song because I loved Saturday.  

What a different meaning Saturday had in my mind than Saturday Night had to the teenagers who loved the song. For me, S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y meant no school! It meant acting all grown up and fixing myself my own bowl of Rice Krispies and watching early morning cartoons while my folks slept in until 9.
My aunt would stack like ten 45s on the record player and walk away to do her homework while I'd sit there, memorized by the music. My feet would dangle from the couch. I can't believe I was ever that little. I remember the way my bare legs would stick to the old plastic slip covers in the summer or the sound my corduroys made against those same plastic slip covers in the winter. 

I could honestly write an entire book just on the memories of Grandma & Grandpa's big old house on Corona.


Anonymous said...

My grandpa gave me my first record player. I was 5. My 1st 45 was "I'm a Little Fire Engine, FLick Is My Name"

Then came The Saturday Night Fever Album...

TS Hendrik said...

Your phonetics were fine. I knew exactly what you were saying. Or I've just watched too much food network... actually that may be.

Momma Fargo said...

What great memories! I actually met the Bay City Rollers a couple of years ago. They still sing great!

Kitty Moore said...

You should write a book Ally - it would make compulsive reading!

Kitty x

California Keys said...

What awesome memories! I'm salivating over that plate of meat and cheese!

When you had tea and toast with your grandmother, did you stick your pinky in the air and talk with a british accent?

Betty said...

You have so many wonderful memories. What I remember about my grandparents is how they sat in total darkness and watched The Lawerence Welk Show.

Pandorah's Box said...

I loved this! It brings back many memories of my grandmothers house, and they sound very similar.

Keep writing about it honey, because I like reading it!


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