Friday, April 24, 2015

Maida Revisited

It had been eighty years – at least – since I last read “Maida’s Little Shop.”  Invalid child wishes she owned the penny candy shop she sees near the school, in a quiet neighborhood of Boston.  Famous, fabulously wealthy father buys it for her, sets her up in disguise to run the shop and live in an apartment above it.
     A friend lent me her copy recently.  The copyright date was listed as 1909.  In the early 1930s I had probably read a later edition, maybe this one.
     Back then, the story was full of things that were so much like my own neighborhood  I could lose myself in the story.  At eight or nine I took for granted, hardly noticed, that the children picked up horse chestnuts to play with, that the basement under Maida’s shop included a coal cellar, that the little girls played the singing game “In and Out the Window” at recess.  And went home every day for lunch.  And bought little china dolls for a penny.  And hung May baskets on each others’ doors. 
     A sloping street near the shop was blocked from traffic so the children could coast  – I remember that. Crepe hung on a door announcing a death – I remember that.  A child died from diphtheria – I remember that also.  
     The book was written before World War One, and the kindly doctor who cures cripples comes from Germany.  I would have remembered Jo March’s Professor – back then Germany was a cliché for wisdom and learning.  And -- how come it never struck me in the 1930s, when all the kids were afraid of the Truant Officer – that no one thought it odd Maida wasn’t in school, or that her crippled young neighbor, who stayed home to care for his baby sister, hadn’t ever learned to read?
     But it was gratifying, these days when so many things are hard to remember, to find that at least eighty years on, I had no trouble understanding the children’s secret language.  Maybe you remember it too?
     ig-Pay atin-Lay.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Power of the Press

A blog comment from Anonymous (CMS) questions whether the proprietor of that funky Lamp Repair shop looks old enough to have been there when I accompanied my husband to pick up a repair 25 years ago.  He is indeed, Con, and here's how I know.  When I stepped through his front door, he came out from the back workshop and stopped me in my tracks with two words:  "Edith Lank".
And as further proof of how old his is -- he still reads the newspaper.  Not only does he  remember when I came in with Norm, he said he sees my picture at the head of the column every week.
That picture is about two centimeters high -- a bit more than half an inch.  But it's evidently more powerful than I ever realized.  Last week's mail brought a letter from jail.
That happens a couple of times a year -- the address is in a lot of newspapers and prisoners are lonely.  This one tells me that he is bored and lonely and with one look at my picture he was "instantly turned on (smiley-face icon)".  Not bad for a two-centimeter head-and-shoulders of a woman in her 90th year, actually. 
He's looking at the picture as he writes and "all I see is beauty and wisdom.  I'm very attracted to women of your era and age." 
He quotes the column's promise to answer all letters* -- tells me he's getting out in 10 months.  And he's incarcerated, as it happens, in my state.   
The kids recommend I get a post office box immediately.  But that seems silly -- the address has been in newspapers ever since 1975, and anyhow, it'd be locking the barn door after this particular horse has already been stolen.

*will not answer this one.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Very bad news.

These days the doctor spends a lot of your visit typing away, and when you check out you're presented with a stapled bunch of papers.  The secretary highlights your next appointment, because who's going to read all the rest of that stuff?  At least, that's the way it goes at my doctor's these days.  But yesterday I figured I'd see what all the rest of the printout said. 
I wish I hadn't.
Very bad news on page 4.
My vitals are listed -- blood pressure actually good for a change.  Weight where I knew it was.
But height -- ay, there's the rub.
For lack of 16/100th of an inch, I'm now less than five feet tall.
Reading that is the kind of moment you don't forget. 
It's now official. 
Less than five feet tall.
It's amazing, what a difference losing an inch or two makes.   You learn to make adaptations -- I rearranged the refrigerator shelves with the big stuff on middle shelves instead of top ones -- and then found exactly that change in a list of Aging in Place suggestions.  (And by the way -- when you come right down to it, everyone on this planet, this minute, is Aging in Place.  No big deal.)
But anyhow -- if you're looking for a thoughtful inexpensive gift for your Grandmother, let me recommend The Grabber.   I wasn't sure how to google for illustrations.  Grabber is the term we've always used in this house, but that didn't seem very technical.  We can't have been the only ones to call it that, though -- Dozens of  "images" came up immediately.
You don't need to wait till you're old.  You don't even need to have a grandmother.  Get one today and you'll thank me when the sweater falls behind the couch, or the boy throws the newspaper far into the bushes.
Assuming you still get the newspaper.    

Friday, April 3, 2015

I Wish You Could See

Two days ago I realized I needed a pair of brass candlesticks, preferably old, and I needed them in a hurry.  For some reason I didn't even think of the Internet -- probably because of the hurry part.   And for some reason what came into my head was an odd shop on the other side of town I'd seen once, maybe 25 years ago, when Norm needed to pick up something metal that needed fixing.

What was I thinking?  That the metal guy  would tell me where to look?  Was the shop still there? Could I even find it? 

Well, it was and I did.  And I wish I could show you that place -- turns out its name is Lamp Repair.  I should have taken a picture of the show window -- at any rate, here's what that window looks like from inside.

The showroom has two counters.  This one, complete with properietor,  shows his back workroom.

And here's the front counter.  I'll give you another shot of that, so you can find the cash register (look hard in the middle of the picture.)

And what did I come away with, out of all that?  Can you believe?

When I got home, 15 minutes on the Internet identified the pair as inverted-beehive- and-diamond pattern, 1800s Victorian, made in England. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Today Only

You may want to take a look at Google Maps today -- try an address in the city.