Golden Lucy's Spiral Journal

Going on 87...Savoring and Surviving the Senior Years

Monday, August 20, 2007

A Flash From Lucy

It was a stormy day here yesterday. I like occasional days like that because it puts me in the mood to make cozy "comfort foods." My favorite is beef stew, which is unseasonable in August---except when it's dank, dark and windy, which it was here yesterday.

I was standing, day-dreaming at the sink, peeling carrots and potatoes for the stew when I was startled by a violent clap of thunder and blinding flash of lighting near the kitchen window. For just a moment it looked like the mountains were on fire. It certainly scared the stuffing out of me!

After I regained my breath I thought about the last time lighting struck so up-close and personal. It was around 1940 and I was riding the streetcar (if some of you remember, it cost all of 17 cents!) from work. I had just finished my shift at the Plotnik Mens' Sock Company---sorting and tagging the toes of socks at the PMSC was one in a line of menial jobs I held to help support my family before I was married.

It was Wednesday and work was over. My friend Freida and I were looking forward to our weekly treat at Putnam's Ice Cream Parlor. Every Wednesday Putnam's had a 10 cent special on ice cream sundaes---3 scoops smothered with sauces, nuts and whipped cream. That sundae was the highlight of my week---even though I felt guilty for eating it.
I remember we had to run to catch the streetcar. This wasn't easy (for us or the folks looking at us) since we both weighed over 180 pounds. But Freida and I had to get to the ice cream parlor! Panting, we dropped into the wooden streetcar seat and leaned back to catch our breath.

However, our relaxation was short-lived. Within moments a cataclysmic lightning bolt ripped through my side of the car and out the other side. I was shocked and terrified beyond belief. But then I started to think.

I wondered if the lightning could be a divine message. Perhaps I shouldn't be rushing to devour a monstrous ice cream sundae when I couldn't sedately run for the streetcar...But no, I decided. Lightning was bad but ice cream was good---especially with chocolate, caramel, whipped cream and cherries. Running with grace for the streetcar was going to have to wait. And it did, but thankfully not forever.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Lucy and the Irresistible Almond Roca

Many, many years ago, when I was a mere child of 25 (Oh my goodness---you do the math!) and a new mother, I had a night job. Because I didn't have education or job skills, the best work possibility for me was nighttime childcare while my husband Ben watched our infant son.

I joined a baby-sitting registry that paid me fifty cents an hour, or seventy-five cents an hour if I did the dishes. I hated doing dishes in my own house, let alone toiling in somebody else's scullery. But I sure did like the extra twenty-five cents an hour! In any case, I would wait for the phone to ring with a baby-sitting request. For some reason, these calls always provoked an astonishing level of anxiety in me. "Don't faint...Don't sweat, Lucy.." You'da thunk it was Hollywood ringing me up. I prayed the registry wouldn't detect my nervousness---though clearly they couldn't have cared less. I'd get my assignment for the evening---and it usually entailed a stack of dirty dishes.

However, things could be pretty entertaining despite the dirty dishes. For example: I was assigned to sit for Mr. and Mrs. Umpity-Umph in a ritzy section of Cinci. Mr. Umpity picked me up in what looked like a hearse and drove me to to their palatial digs. "Go on upstairs,' he directed. 'My wife will introduce you to the twins." Twins?? My sweet Jack was a handful for me---I'd even fantasized about sending him out with the laundry service and keeping the diapers until he was trained. But now I didn't have time to fret about it.

Just as I arrived at the landing, Mrs. Umpity sailed blithely by me in glorious, corpulent, total nudity. Not one bit abashed, she called over her shoulder, "Make yourself at home. I'll be with you in a minute." Horrified and shaken, I minutely studied my nails replying with what I hoped would pass for sophistication, "No, please! Take Your time." Yes. By ALL means! I thought.

When she finally emerged fully and mercifully clothed she gave me my instructions. The twins were very young and very small. I hoped they would be very quiet as well. Kinnehorah. After hours of singing and rocking the fretful mites they finally fell silent. I was able to creep out of their room and down the stairs praying all the while I wouldn't hit a creaky step.

Downstairs, I explored the luxurious living room and den. Then I spotted temptation on the made-to-order cocktail tail. A pink and gold can of hoity-toidy Almond Roca candy was calling my name. "Eat me, Lucy!" it whispered. "You deserve it. You're stressed. You're tired. You're an American." All too true, I thought. And that candy was just the thing to sooth my rattled nerves. I wanted a piece so badly!

However, I withstood the temptation. I just knew Mrs. Umpity would know one was missing. I did the dishes instead. Thankfully I didn't have to wrestle with the Almond Roca for long after that. The Umpitys returned and I assured them the babies had been no trouble at all. I just wish I could have said the same about the damn Almond Roca!