Saturday, June 16, 2007

Welcome to My Parlor

[inspired by Sunday Scribblings]

I loved the scene in the sitcom "Designing Women" where they talked about their crazy relatives. They said that most people would be ashamed and hide them away. But not in the south, where people brought them into the parlor to show them off.


In honor of the Sunday Scribblings prompt, even though I'm not in the south, I am showing off some of my crazy relatives in the parlor.


One used to say, "whoa, Ford," each time he parked the car in the garage.


Mom grew up in The Depression. The house was shared with five adults and two (later three) kids. All the grownups worked whatever jobs they could find and the shifts sometimes overlapped. Only Mom's Grandpa didn't work.
One day when she home sick, my mom and her Grandpa watched nearly everyone leave for work. Mom's mother cleared the breakfast mess and did some straightening up. She then collected all the throw rugs from the house and took them to the porch where she shook them out. She swept the floors and then returned the rugs. A little later she left for her job as a cook.

Soon after that, my mom's aunt came home from one of her jobs. She made lunch for whoever got a lunch break and cleaned up the lunch mess. She then collected all the throw rugs from the house and took them to the porch where she shook them out. She swept the floors and then returned the rugs.
Grandpa told my mom, "We're either the cleanest people in town, or the dirtiest. I don't know which."


I don't know if it is related to that or not, but my mom is now (and has been all my life anyway) an uber-neatnik. No, even more obsessive than you think. Unless you're family. Then you know.

My dad's sister-in-law (yes, that makes her my aunt) from New York City visited our small-town-in-the-Midwest house in the 1960's. She pulled shut all the blinds and curtains in the bedroom and she kept them shut 24 hours a day for the full week they were at our house.


When she went into labor, my Mom got behind the wheel of the car and drove my dad 70 miles to the hospital where she gave birth to me.


Decades after the shoe factory closed my hometown still had the "5:30 whistle," a siren that blew at 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. [Try explaining that to visitors to the town when you're a kid. "What's that?" "The 5:30 whistle." "What's it mean?" "That it is 5:30."] I know this isn't about my family, but maybe it was something in the water.


I can't stand silverware handles or straws pointing at my face. I reach out and push them to the side.


There are more, but I think the parlor is quite full enough now. You'll have to come back another time.

8 comments:

Bongga Mom said...

You've got some interesting relatives!

Stacy said...

My family has a baked ham story much like your rug story. Your relations sound like fun.

[a} said...

Your mom is brave!

I have one really eccentric relative, who always gives us something to talk about. She owns a mattress made of marble, for example!!

Maria said...

Ah, yes...we all have them. In Nebraska, we don't shove them in the attic or put them on display, though. We just smile politely and pretend that they really aren't sitting in their chairs clucking like chickens or picking flowers in the nude in our back yards....

I grew up in a small town that had a noon whistle. It was how the men knew to come in from the fields for lunch. One day it malfunctioned and workers everywhere just kept on going....

Patois said...

Gosh, I love your parlor. It sounds like a swell place to sit and watch and listen.

sister AE said...

Ooooh, comments! I love comments.

Bongga Mom,
You have no idea. Someday I'm going to write a huge soap-opera of all the things I've watched and heard about the various branches of my family. Of, course, I'll have to change all the names...

Stacy,
I'll have to hear that baked ham story sometime.

[a},
You mean about driving while in labor? She always was (and still is) the driver. That way not only is she in control but it also keeps her from getting motion sickness.

Maria,
I think my southern-Illinois hometown did the same ignoring thing. At least in public.

Patois,
It is a nice place to visit, but I'm glad I don't live there all the time.

Rural Lesbian said...

I think lots of little towns once had shoe factories that closed. It used to be the biggest employer in our small town. The workers still have reunions.

Guess the whistle is a throwback to a time before wristwatches. Most people I work with don't wear a watch and always ask when lunch (dinner time for you country folks) is near.

sister AE said...

Hi, RL,
Yup. My relatives told me (when I was finally old enough to remember) that it was for "closing time" and served as a warning to finish up making supper. [Of course, not dinner, because that was the mid-day meal.]

And now most people I know don't wear watches - they look at their cell phones to find out what time it is.