Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Vacations (1)

Every year that we took a vacation, we always went to the same place: Utah. No Disneyland, no Sea World, never a World's Fair, nor a ski trip to Banff, BC. Always Utah. Not that I'm complaining. When it's all you know, what can you compare it to?

Of course I don't remember the trips when I was a baby. Toddlerhood, not really, but pre-school, naw. About the time I reached grade school, things started following a certain pattern. First of all we stayed at Grandma Smith's in Provo. She had a three or four bedroom house, albeit small - and we took up two of her bedrooms.

Grandma & Grandpa Smith lived on 6th West, about a block from the Provo Hospital. (Grandma had worked there as a nurse for some time, but was retired by the time I remember. Their house was a painted white, and had a long porch that went the full length of the house. There were two doors on the front side of the house. The one on the left, which we were not allowed to use, went directly into the living room. The one on the right, nearest the driveway, that opened into the kitchen. It was through the kitchen that we accessed the hall to the bathroom and bedrooms. In the early years, there was also a lot of land surrounding the house that belonged to Grandpa Smith.

Now Grandpa Smith was my step-grandpa, and he married my Grandma about the time my mom was in Jr. High, I think. He was her third husband. I don't know the circumstances surrounding the end of her first marriage, but she was divorced from my mom's dad. Quite a few years after Grandpa Smith died, she remarried again.

All in all, my Grandmother had eight children of her own and 3 (?) step-sons. She and Grandpa Smith were very devout Mormons and had their marriage "sealed" in the temple, which they believed would mean they would be married throughout eternity. The fact she married again, was okay with her church, because she only married him for "time" and not "eternity."

Grandma was very busy working for the LDS church. She baked bread regularly (and it was the best I have ever had) and gave it to the church to help the poor (or something like that). I don't think they did bake sales, but I really don't know. One time she offered to teach me how to bake bread. I was excited to learn, until she told me I had to cut off my fingernails. I must have been a bit vain, but I thought she was too strict, so I kept my fingernails and never learned to bake her bread.

Grandma Smith was really strict. As youngsters, my cousins and I were not allowed to play in her house. We could only come in to use the restroom or for meals (and only my family got to come in for meals). If we were all being fed, we had to eat outside. Fortunately, for us kids, there was a huge tree in her backyard that shaded the house and yard from the afternoon sun, making outdoor play tolerable. Some of the older cousins climbed up in the tree, and that was okay. But the one thing we all wanted to do, but were absolutely FORBIDDEN to do, was play on the cellar door.

The door was wooden and laid ontop of the opening to the cellar. Beneath the doors were cement stairs that went down under the ground and then led to an area underneath Grandma's house. (I remember going down to get some home canned goods, but I think I was only down there once when I was older.) The cellar door was located just outside of Grandma's kitchen window, and it was tempting in the way it sloped for running up and down. Unfortunately for us, the adults usually visited in the kitchen, and if we ran up the door someone would come to the window and yell at us to stay off of the door. (I don't know if they were worried that the door would crack and we'd fall through, or if they thought we'd fall off the high side, or if they just didn't like the noise.)

For some reason I remember Grandma Smith had Blue Willow china. But at other times, I think her pattern was brown. Is there a brown willow, with a wee bit of pink in it? (Strange). Maybe one of my cousins can shed light on this, as they lived in the area year round.

I also remember that her stove had watermelon rind shaped lights in the front that indicated the heat the burners were turned to. For example, on the low setting the lights were a mint green. On medium they were yellow, and on high they were orange or red. (?) I was always fascinated by the color indicators.

One time, when I was in grade school - not sure which year. We had just sat down to eat at Grandma & Grandpa Smith's table. I began to dish up my plate, as we always did, then I started eating something. Upon seeing me chew, Grandma said loud enough for all to hear, "Those that don't pray, don't deserve to eat!" I was mortified. Pray?? We never did that at home. How was I to know that I didn't deserve to eat? I was scared to take another bite.

Shortly thereafter either Grandma or Grandpa prayed, and everyone began to eat. I finally ventured to put something in my mouth, but I never forgot the humiliation of that moment. You can bet I never ate anything at Grandma Smith's house after that without waiting for someone to pray. It wasn't that I didn't believe in God, and it wasn't that I did ---I just didn't know the rules. It was humiliating to be made an example of especially when I was a kid. I guess it wasn't Grandma's way to instruct prior to the meal that there would be prayer first. (I often wondered later, when I was grown, if Grandma used me to make a point to my parents. I don't think she approved of the way they were bringing my sister and I up without "religion.")

When I was in High School, my Grandma Smith tried to get me to come and live with her and attend BYU (Brigham Young University). I didn't want to venture that far from home, and so I refused. (Plus I never forgot how she tried to "hook me up" with her paperboys and the missionaries from the Mormon Church. She didn't care if they were good-looking or not, she just wanted to convert me. . .guess she didn't understand that even though I wasn't Mormon. . .I had standards. . .


Jackie said...

I am so amazed at your recall! I love reading these type 'memories'. Thanks for sharing!

Pinehurst in my Dreams said...

Thanks for your comment. Sometimes I don't know how much to say, and how much to leave out.

I don't want to offend anyone, family or otherwise, but I do like telling it how it was for me. (Just don't want my audience to get bored with ME or my viewpoint. I am trying to get a cousin or two to read and add their own take on this time in our lives.)