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MY GRAMMA

Gramma Taylor had a beautiful yard, flowers and bushes planted around a small pond that she had made herself. She dug the hole, carried mud from the bottom of Whalom Lake (that was just down the street), she used this to line her pond. She always had goldfish in the house and when they outgrew the many different sized bowls, she would put them into her outdoor pond. When they outgrew that, she took them to Coggshall Park, where there was a small lake. Many years later, when she had passed on, we could still see her goldfish at Coggshall - they had multiplied and now large schools of them are seen and fed by people visiting the park (its a beautiful place to take wedding pictures and a lot of people do that).

Gramma Taylor had about 10 dogs and 20 cats, at any given time - she loved animals. Dad said how she fed the animals first and if there was any hamburg left, the kids got it. I think he was exaggerating, but maybe not too much... She also had chickens, ducks, a cow, a horse. We all lived there off and on, before my parents were divorced...I loved living there. She took me for many walks down to the lake, sometimes she would go swimming, float on her back reading a newspaper. There was a Whalom Lake boat cruise that would go by her house a few times a day, in summer - many times it was reported that a little old lady was floating, presumed drowned...she would fall asleep in the water, on her back.

One time, she took me for a walk down to the lake and then continuing on, up and over the next hill. We arrived at the back-side of Cloverhill Dairy. They sold milk and dairy products in town. She bought me my first chocolate milk. We walked back home a different way - past a "haunted house", she liked to tell me scary stories, as I got older. When I was grown and married, with children of my own, we drove past that haunted house; it looked even more haunted now, with the roof caving in and shutters hanging limp from the broken windows. I related the story to my own children.

Gramma Taylor was the first naturalist I ever knew. Many times, on our walks, she would see caterpillars building nests in trees, eating the leaves off the trees. This really upset her, and she would take a stick, poke the nest, wrap it around her stick and pull it from the tree; she would then stomp on the young caterpillars until there was nothing left but a mess of green "squish".

My favorite dog was Garneau; he was a big, long-haired mongrel with nothing going for him, except the great amount of love he generated in all those around him. Gramma Taylor built a huge igloo one day, Garneau was the first one in it, I was second. We spent the whole day in the igloo.

I remember Gramma putting globs of vaseline all over my face, when we came inside in the winter time; this was so I wouldn't get chaffed. We always brushed our teeth with baking soda, or sometimes we had Dr. Lyons' Tooth Powder to use.

Grampa Taylor (Archibald) worked for the railroad; building them, I think. He smoked a pipe, I thought that was really something; especially the way he could blow smoke rings that circled our heads. One day we were sitting on the front porch - it was summer, there was a wide-leafed vine that grew up the porch for shade; it had a white (purple trimmed) flower that grew from it, that turned into a large pod. Eventually, the pod became hard and then Grampa Taylor carved it into the shape of a pipe; the stem was hollow and I could suck air through it...I thought that was really great.

Grampa Taylor liked to listen to the radio in the dark; he always listened to "Inner Sanctum". The show always began with a squeaking door, followed by a lot of other scary things. Every night (it was like a ritual), right after we ate and Gramma did the dishes; the lights would go off, Grampa would settle down in his chair, light up his pipe and I would look across the room for the little circle of light his pipe gave off...then I would run full-steam-ahead, and jump into his lap before that squeaking door noise began...safe in his lap.

My parents marriage was never very secure, and we lived with the Taylor grandparents from time to time. My sister was born in that same tiny house, almost 3 years after I was. Dad had gone up the street, looking for the doctor, and Irene decided to be born right then. I was alone with Mom. I remember Mom was sick and her supper came up. She told me to go into the other room. All of a sudden, a baby was crying - so, I had to tell my Mom. She already knew...and said everything was alright, just to go into the other room. Irene weighed 9 lbs. 15 oz. - about double the size I had been.

My sister Irene had tight, curly hair and lots of it. She looked like my Dad. Mom dressed us the same, like we were twins. I remember singing a lot, my Mom having said that we were as cute as Shirley Temple and maybe we would get "discovered" by a talent scout and become movie stars. Irene was my only playmate for many years, as Mom didn't let us out of her sight.

I remember having my tonsils out in that tiny house. They sat me in my high chair, in the kitchen. A thing that looked like a tea strainer was put over my nose - then, I remember being held over the kitchen sink and told to spit. A lot of big things came out, it was bloody. I remember the sink was the old-fashioned kind, dark color, sandstone I think. I was 3 years old at the time.

Dad was always working on old Model T Ford cars, the kind with the rumble seat in the back, where the trunk should be. He gave us a ride in them. He remodeled them to sell.

One time we went for a ride with Dad, in his regular car, he had two purebred collie pups in the back seat. He saw something in the bushes and had his rifle with him - so he shot from inside the car. The noise was really loud and the pups went a little wild. They never did recover from it, went into distemper, or something. They were brought to the vet, (Dr. Fitzgerald) and he said they would be alright, but later said they both died. Well, Dad looked around out back of the vets building and there was no newly dug snow (the vet had said he buried them out back). Dad couldn't prove anything.

A few years later (about the time they were divorcing), my Dad took me for a ride around Whalom Lake, in a small boat. He was showing me places that were not safe, like one side of the lake had large pipes where the water flowed out from the lake; the current was very strong and many people had been sucked into those pipes and drowned, through the years. The lake was very clean and we could see to the bottom in many places. I didn't like what I saw - sometimes there were large, metal barrels that bowed and bobbed on the bottom - I was small and couldn't swim...I didn't like it.

On the side of the lake that had a lot of camps, we found a large, (to me) wooden, toy battleship. Dad fished it out of the water for me. I had it for a couple of years...played with it all the time. It had guns on the sides that were run by springs - Irene and I put match sticks into the guns and fired them off, they went quite a distance. And then it disappeared, like everything he ever gave me, disappeared.

When I was five and Irene was two years old, Mom and Dad decided to get a divorce. I remember being brought into the lawyer's office, or maybe he was a judge. Irene was handed to a woman sitting on the right hand side of the room. The lawyer was right in front of us, seated behind his desk, there was a large window directly behind him with a venetian blind in it. Mom and Dad sat on each side of the desk. I was told that Irene was too young to make up her own mind, so she was given to Mom. I was told I could decide who I wanted to go with. I said, "With my Dad". Well, Mom started crying and wouldn't stop. Finally I said I would go with her. On the way home, Mom was mad at me - she said, "If you didn't say anything, they wouldn't have been able to do anything and we wouldn't have got the divorce". She was blaming me for the divorce.

I had forgotten all about this until I was about 40 years old; suddenly, it was all brought back to me, when I was sitting at a window that was just like the window behind the lawyer, that day. I suddenly remembered, and knew that I had carried the guilt from the day of the divorce. I remember how big an impression the divorce had made on me, because every year, in school, when we had to write our autobiography, I always started it off with: "My parents were divorced when I was very young." My Mom never intended to heap that on me, and had probably forgotten she ever said it - but, way back in my subconscious, I had remembered and lived with it for 35 years.

One time, not too long after the divorce, Dad had taken us for a day and a night. We drove to a small cabin across the street from a large reservoir. There was no outhouse or indoor plumbing and we had to "piddle" in a metal pot. I had to go so bad that night, but didn't want to wake up everyone with the noise it would make, so I waited until I couldn't wait any longer, then I woke up everybody... There was a large pit dug close to the cabin, it was full of empty tin cans and rubbish; we had to stay far away from that. I remember Dad's girlfriend Mary, she was with him. I guess, because it happened once, that's why Mom was afraid it would happen again.

My parents hated each other so much, that neither of them could ever speak of, or to the other, all their lives. My Mom was always afraid my Dad would try to kidnap my sister and me, after he had taken us that once. She never let him see us, and he refused to pay support unless he could see us; it was a no-win situation: she even moved to New York state, after her second marriage, to be away from my Dad. (In a few years, we moved back to Massachusetts.) Because of my birth date, I would have to wait another year before going to school - unless I took a test and passed it. Mom took me to the M.A. Gallagher Junior High School building, where the Superintendent of Schools had her office; that's where the tests were given. I had always been very sheltered by my Mom, and certainly wasn't "advanced" in any area, but Mom wanted me in school, because she worked and it would help if the baby sitter had to watch just my sister. Miss Lincoln was a crabby old maid - she really scared me. I had a hard time with the aptitude tests and didn't pass them. Mom was upset with me because I couldn't start school that year.

My sister and I lived with our Mom at the Taylor grandparents' house for awhile. Mom went out with a sailor named Johnny, he was going overseas - we never saw him again. I don't know if he died in the war, or what. (World War II) We moved from the Taylor Grandparents' house soon after the divorce. Grandma had testified for Mom, but now Mom found out Grandma had only done it so Dad would be free. Mom couldn't forgive her and wouldn't let us see the Taylor family.

Mom began working for the Foster Grant Sunglasses Company. We rented an apartment on a hill overlooking the factory; Mom walked to work. The apartment was above a house owned by Dad's Aunts (Sadie and Susie Kingston). We got our heat from their bottom floor apartment, so there were square, metal vents in the floor (grates, that we could see through). I discovered how to lift them out, and did so - Mom came running across the room, and fell into one of the holes in the floor, nearly broke her leg; boy, she was mad at me.

My Mom had a friend who lived next door, her name was Angie, her husband was Louis Tosonno. Angie helped Mom out a lot when she was first a single parent. Louis liked to eat very hot things and he was always eating these foamy things to cut the acid in his stomach. He had bottles of this stuff all over the house and he would give us a little because we liked the way they fizzed on our tongue. Angie was always so happy to see us that she would hug us TOO HARD...I couldn't get my breath. They had grape vines up on frames all across their front yard, and their back yard was full of tomato plants. Louis eventually died. Their son Joe never married, always took care of his mom. Years later, they sold their house and bought a new one close to us, and Mom got to see Angie a few times before she, too, passed on.

I had a lot of fevers and convulsions, when I was quite young. The first time I can remember them, is when we lived in the apartment over the Taylor family aunts (Kingston). My Mom had company, a man and another couple. I think the couple were Pollock and Irene (they later married); the man being my Mom's friend Horace Graves (the two men were in the Army). They had come in to see us girls and the room was just going round; it's like I went in and out of consciousness a lot that night.

Mom married Horace and later, he was shipped overseas. She was pregnant and the baby was stillborn, he was named Junie, (Junior). It upset Mom because Horace couldn't come home, but it was during the worst part of the war. She was in touch with Senator Philbin, who really tried to get Horace home, but couldn't. They kept in touch through the years, after that, he helped her a lot.

When the baby was born dead, Mom was still Roman Catholic and tried to have Junie buried in St. Cecelia's cemetery, but because he hadn't lived to be baptized, they wouldn't let him be buried inside the cemetery - so, he was buried in with a lot of other babies, just outside the gates. Well, many years later, the cemetery had to be enlarged, and the gate was moved; Junie was now inside the gate. So, as in many, many cases in her life, God vindicated Mom.

I guess, because we were still seeing too much of the Taylor family, Mom got an apartment down the hill and closer to work. The railroad track ran just beyond the back yard; we used to wave at the engineers and caboose car men. Doyle Field was just on the other side of the tracks, and beyond that was our Elementary School (Priest Street School).

We had a back porch and spent a lot of time on it. There was an ice box on the porch, we got ice for it - that was before electric refrigerators. I remember my sister and I, and one of our little friends, locking each other in the ice box; just never heard that it was dangerous. We did strange things, like having a tea party with the little tea sets for kids - only thing is, we didn't have tea, we used anything else we could find...


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Pen Name: Aimee Love
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Gramma, me, and "Petey" the crow!


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