My grandmother never vacuumed or swept, and only rarely, if my parents weren’t home or my mother was sick, would she cook, preparing dishes notable mostly for their lack of nutition: An entire dinner could consist of fried cheese or half-raw pancakes. What my grandmother did do was read, this was the primary way she spent her time. It wasn’t unusual for her to complete a book a day—she preferred novels, especially the Russian masters, but she also read histories, biographies, and pulpy mysteries—and for hours and hours every morning and afternoon, she sat either in the living room or on top of her bed (the bed would be made, and she would be fully dressed), turning pages and smoking Pall Malls. From early on, I understood that the household view of my grandmother, which is to say my parents’ view, was not simply that she was both smart and frivolous but that her smartness and her frivolity were intertwined. That she could tell you all about the curse of the Hope Diamond, or about cannibalism in the Donner Party—it wasn’t that she ought to be ashamed, exactly, to possess such knowledge, but there was no reason for her to be proud of it, either. The tidbits she relayed were interesting, but they had little do do with real life: paying a mortgage, scrubbing a pan, keeping warm in the biting cold of Wisconsin winters.
I’m pretty sure that rather than resisting this less than flattering view of herself, my grandmother shared it. In another era, I imagine she’d have made an excellent book critic for a newspaper, or even an English professor, but she’d never attended college, and neither had my parents. My grandmother’s husband, my father’s father, had died early, and as a young widow, my grandmother had gone to work in a ladies’ dress shop, waiting on Milwaukee matrons who, as she told it, had money but not taste. She’d held this job until the age of fifty—fifty was older then than it is now—at which point she’d moved to Riley with my newly wed parents.
My grandmother borrowed the majority of the books she read from the libary, but she bought some, too, and these she kept in her bedroom on a shelf so full that every ledge contained two rows; it reminded me of a girl in my class, Pauline Geisseler, whose adult teeth had grown in before her baby teeth fell out and who would sometimes, with a total lack of self-consciousness, open her mouth for us at recess. My grandmother almost never read aloud to me, but she regularly took me to the libary—I read and reread the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, and both the Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys series—and my grandmother often summarized the grown-up books she’d read in tantalizing ways: A well-bred woman falls in love with a man who is not her husband; after her husband learns of the betrayal, she has no choice but to throw herself in the path of an oncoming train …
Such plots infused my grandmother’s bedroom with an atmosphere of intrigue enhanced by her few but carefully chosen belongings, my favorite of which was a bust of Nefertiti that rested on her bureau. The bust had been given to my grandmother by her friend Gladys Wycomb, who lived in Chicago, and it was a replica of the ancient Egyptian one by the sculptor Thutmose. Nefertiti wore a black headdress and a jeweled collar, and she gazed forward with great composure. Her name, my grandmother explained, translated as “the beautiful woman has come.”
Beside the bust were framed pictures: a photograph of my grandmother as a girl in a white dress, standing next to her parents in 1900 (so very long ago!); one of my parents at their wedding in which my father wore his army uniform and my mother wore a double-breasted sheath dress (though the photo was black and white, I knew because I’d asked my mother that her dress was lavender); a photo of my grandmother’s deceased husband, my grandfather, whose name had been Harvey and who was caught here squinting into the sun; and finally, one of me, my class picture from second grade, in which I was smiling a bit frantically, my hair parted in the center and pulled into pigtails.
Beyond the books, her photos, the Nefertiti bust, and her perfume bottle and cosmetics, my grandmother’s bedroom was actually rather plain. She slept, as I did, on a single bed, hers covered by a yellow spread on which she heaped plaid blankets in the winter. There was little on her walls, and her bedside table rarely held anything besides a lamp, a book, a clock, and an ashtray. Yet this was the place, smelling of cigarette smoke and Shalimar perfume, that seemed to me a passageway to adventure, the lobby of adulthood. In my grandmother’s lair, I sensed the experiences and passions of all the people whose lives were depicted in the novels she read.
I don’t know if my grandmother was consciously trying to make me a reader, too, but she did allow me to pick up any of her books, even ones I had small hope of understanding (I began The Portrait of a Lady at the age of nine, then quit after two pages) or ones my mother, had she known, would have forbidden (at the age of eleven, I not only finished Peyton Place but immediately reread it). Meanwhile, my parents owned almost no books except for a set of maroon-spined Encylopaedia Britannicas we kept in the living room. My father subscribed to Riley’s morning and evening newspapers, The Riley Citizen and the Riley Courier, as well as to Esquire, though my grandmother seemed to read the magazine more thoroughly than he did. My mother didn’t read, and to this day I’m not sure if her disinclination was due to a lack of time or interest.
Because I was the daughter of a bank manager, I believed us to be well off; I was past thirty by the time I realized this was not a view any truly well-off American would have shared. Riley was in the exact center of Benton County, and Benton County contained two competing cheese factories: Fassbinder’s out on De Soto Way, and White River Dairy, which was close to the town of Houghton, though plenty of people who worked at White River still lived in Riley because Riley, with nearly forty thousand residents, had far more attractions and conveniences, including a major theater. Many of my classmates’ parents worked at one of the factories; other kids came from small farms, a few from big farms—Freddy Zurbrugg, who in third grade had laughed so hard he’d started crying when out teacher used the word pianist, lived on the fourth largest dairy farm in the state—but still, being from town seemed to me infinitely more sophiscated than being from the country. Riley was laid on a grid, flanked on the west by Riley River, with the commercial area occupying the south section of town and the residential streets heading north up the hill. As a child, I knew the names of all the families who lived on Amity Lane: the Weckwerths, whose son, David, was the first baby I ever held; the Noffkes, whose cat, Zeus, scratched my cheek when I was five, drawing blood and instilling in me a lifelong antipathy for all cats; the Cernochs, who in hunting seasons would hang from a tree in their front yard the deer they’d shot. Calvary Lutheran Church, which my family attended, was on Adelphia Street; my elementary school and junior high, located on the same campus, were six blocks from my house; and the new high school—completed in 1948 but still referred to as “new” when I started there in 1950—was the largest building in town, a grand brick structure supported in the front of six massive Corinthian columns and featured on postcards sold at Urtzenstorf’s drugstore. All of what I thought of as Riley proper occupied under ten square miles, and then in every direction around us were fields and prairies and pastures, rolling hills, forests of beech and sugar maple trees.
Attending school with children who still used outhouses, or who didn’t eat food that wasn’t a product of their own land and animals, did not make me haughty. On the contrary, mindful of what I perceived as my advantages, I tried to be extra-polite to my classmates. I couldn’t have known it at the time, but far in the future, in a life I never could have anticipated for myself, this was an impulse that would serve me well.
(American Wife, Curtis Sittenfeld, pages 12-15)
The above is what I would have posted yesterday, but was not able to because I could not access the edit tools here at my website. The following is today’s excerpt:
FOR A FEW years, I hardly thought of that day at the grocery store with my grandmother, Andrew Imhof, and his mother. The two people who, in my opinion, ought to have been embarrassed by it—my grandmother, for making the error about Andrews’s gender, and Andrew, for having the error made about him (if any of our classmates had caught wind of it, they’d have mocked him relentlessly)—seemed unconcerned. I continued going to school with Andrew, but we rarely spoke. Once in fourth grade, before lunch, he was the person selected by our eacher to stand in front of the classroom and call up the other students to get in line; this was a ritual that occurred multiple times every day. First Andrew said, “If your name begins with B,” which meant his friend Bobby could line up right behind him, and the next thing Andrew said was “If you’re wearing a red ribbon in your hair.” I was the only girl that day who was. Also, I was facing forward when Andrew called this out, a single ponytail gathered behind my head, meaning he must have noticed the ribbon earlier. He hadn’t said anything, he hadn’t yanked on it as some of the other boys did, but he’d noticed.
And then in sixth grade, my friend Dena and I were walking one Saturday afternoon from downtown back to our house, and we saw Andrew coming in the other direction, riding his bicycle south on Commerce Street. It was a cold day, Andrew wore a parka and a navy blue watch cap, and his cheeks were flushed. He was sailing past us when Dena yelled out, “Andrew Imhof has great balls of fire!”
I looked at her in horror.
To my surprise, and I think to Dena’s, Andrew braked. The expression on his face when he turned around was one of amusement. “What did you just say?” he asked. Andrew was wiry then, still shorter than both Dena and me.
“I meant like the song!” Dena protested. “You know: ‘Goodness, gracious …’ ” It was true that while her own mother was an Elvis fan, Dena’s favorite singer was Jerry Lee Lewis. The revelation the following spring that he’d married his thirteen-year-old cousin, while alarming to most people, would only intensify Dena’s crush, giving her hope; should things not work out between Jerry Lee and Myra Gale Brown, Dena told me, then she herself would realistically be eligible to date him by eighth grade.
“Did you come all the way here on your bike?” Dena said to Andrew. The Imhofs lived on a corn farm a few miles outside of town.
“Bobby’s cocker spaniel had puppies last night,” Andrew said. “They’re about the size of your two hands.” He was still on the bike, standing with it between his legs, and he held his own hands apart a few inches to show how small; he was wearing tan mittens. I had not paid much attention to Andrew lately, and he seemed definitely older to me—able, for the first time that I could remember, to have an actual conversation instead of merely smiling and sneaking glances. In fact, conscious of his presence in a way I’d never been before, I was the one who seemed to have nothing much to say.
“Can we see the puppies?” Dena asked.
Andrew shook his head. “Bobby’s mother says they shouldn’t be touched a lot until they’re older. Their feet and noses are real pink.”
“I want to see their pink noses!” Dena cried. This seemed a little suspect to me; the Janaszewskis had a boxer to whom Dena paid negligible attention.
“They hardly do anything now but eat and sleep,” Andrew said. “Their eyes aren’t even open.”
Aware that I had not contributed to the conversation so far, I extended a white paper bag in Andrew’s direction.
“Want some licorice?” Dena and I had been downtown on a candy-buying expedition.
“Andrew,” Dena said as he removed his mittens and stuck one hand in the bag, “I heard your brother scored a touchdown last night.”
“You girls weren’t at the game?”
Dena and I shook our heads.
“The team’s real good this year. One of the offensive linemen, Earl Yager, weighs two hundred and eighty pounds.”
“That’s disgusting,” Dena said. She helped herself to a rope of my licorice though she’d bought some of her own. “When I’m in high school, I’m going to be a cheerleader, and I’m going to wear my uniform to school every Friday, no matter how cold it is.”
“What about you, Alice?” Andrew gripped the handles of his bicycle, angling the front wheel toward me.
“You gonna be a cheerleader, too?” We looked at each other, his eyes their greenish-brown and his eye-lashes ridiculously long, and I thought that my grandmother may have been right after all—even if Andrew wasn’t flirting with you, his eyelashes were.
“Alice will still be a Girl Scout in high school,” Dena said. She herself had dropped out of our troop over the summer, and while I was leaning in that direction, I officially remained a member.
“I’m going to be in Future Teachers of America,” I said.
Dena smirked. “You mean because you’re so smart?” This was a particularly obnoxious comment; as Dena knew, I had wanted to be a teacher since we’d been in second grade with Miss Clougherty, who was not only kind and pretty but, had read Caddie Woodlawn aloud to us, which then became my favorite book. For years, Dena and I had pretended we were teachers who coincidenally both happened to be named Miss Clougherty, and we’d gotten Dena’s sisters, Marjorie anad Peggy, to be our students. As with Girl Scouts, playing school was an activity Dena had lost interest in before I did.
Dena turned back to Andrew. “Tell Bobby to let us come over and play with his puppies. We promise to be gentle.”
“You can tell him yourself.” Andrew pulled on his mittens and set his feet back on the pedals of his bicycle. “See you girls later.”
(Ameican Wife, Curtis Sittenfeld, pages 15-18)
A comfy nightgown:
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JW Marriott Turnberry
https://www.thecraftpatchblog.com/american-girl-doll-basic-knit-dress/THIS IS AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM ME:
NO MORMON MOMENT, MAGIC OF MACY*S, ALADDIN, HARRY POTTER …
NO MAGIC/SORCERY/SATANISM CAN PREVENT THE IMPENDING STOCK MARKET CRASH, WORLDWIDE.
THIS IS ANOTHER AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM ME:
No matter how many people think otherwise, Jehovah’s Witnesses really is God’s visible organization.
The wrath of Jehovah God really is upon the Mormon Church of Satan, no matter how many people think otherwise.
The stock market really is going to crash, worldwide, no matter how many people think otherwise.
No matter how many people think otherwise, Caroline Kennedy will be elected President in the year 2020;
Jim Turner of Texas will be elected Vice President;
Robert Kennedy Jr. will be nominated and confirmed U.S. Attorney General; and,
Robert Mueller will be nominated and confirmed Director of the FBI.
No power on earth has the power to prevent the above prophetic message that I write from becoming reality, not even these four people themselves. I write under inspiration from and with authority from, God, the true God, Jehovah.
cc all Mormon barristers
THIS IS ANOTHER AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM ME:
Mayor Warren Wilhelm aka Bill de Blasio is the clean-up man, if the Mormon Church of Satan/CIA succeed in their planned nuclear bomb attack on the Hudson River. His administration is already prepared to hold tribunals and immediately execute some of the “troublemakers” (30,000 bananas; nationwide: 30,000 guillotines, to be continued).
Partial List of Scapegoats, if the Mormon Church of Satan/CIA succeed in their nuclear bomb attack on the Hudson River:
Former President Barack “Hussein” Obama
Former Advisor to the President, Valerie “June” Jarrett
Former Homeland Security Director “Jeh” Johnson
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka
Minnesota Congressman FBI agent Keith “Ellison”
New York Congressman FBI agent Hakim Jeffries
Former leader of the CIA’s Black Panthers: FBI agent “Malik Zulu Shabazz”
Former Public Relations Spokesman for the Mormon Church of Satan: FBI agent “Ahmad” Corbitt (recently returned from assignment in the Dominican Republic)
[greasy looking Latino American man and African American man made up to look like former President Barack Hussein Obama wearing Joseph Smith’s white shirt] https://www.vividseats.com/theatre/hamilton-tickets.html
[Former presidential candidate Joseph Smith (1844), author of “U.S. Constitution hanging by a thread” prophecy:]
The purpose of this website is to expose the Mormon Church of Satan and all enemies of Jesus Christ the Way the Truth the Life, the Prince of Peace.
This website is also the beginning of a presidential campaign to elect Caroline Kennedy President of the United States. I prayed to Jehovah God to please, by means of His son Christ Jesus, please, arrange national events and world events in such a manner such that Caroline Kennedy is elected President of the United States. I know Jehovah God hears my prayer and will answer my prayer because that particular prayer of mine is one of my deepest desires and Jehovah God has promised me that he will satisfy all of my deepest desires. All of the information posted at this website is interconnected; directly connected to the Mormon Church of Satan’s illegal sting operation surrounding Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide, and me. The illegal sting operation that encompasses every human being on earth, and has resulted in the LEGAL CASE, unlike any other, ever. The LEGAL CASE, headed to The Hague, Netherlands. cc all Mormon attorneys
Maintain Your Focus on Jesus!
Concluding talk, Jehovah’s Witnesses Convention 2015, worldwide