Thursday, October 25, 2018

Christmas Coming Early (Eugene and Ann)

We all love to joke about how Christmas is coming earlier every year, and even Best Day isn't immune to the unseasonable season's greetings. Case in point, on October 3rd, Milestones newspaper asked us to send them some stories about the Christmas holidays. It was weird to get stories about Christmas and Las Posadas while it was still eighty degrees, but we had fun writing them and I brought in some sandwich cookies for everybody. Even while we were still thinking about December, we still had our Halloween tricks and treats.

I'm not posting those stories yet, because I want to wait and see which ones do and don't get published. So for the time being, enjoy some stories with nothing to do with Fall or Winter holidays.

Eugene Charrington
Piercing, Skin branding and Tattoos

Skin art has become very popular in the United States. When I lived in New York, I noticed with the younger folks under 40: Tattoos of all kinds have become a craze. Religions, symbols, names, drawings of animals, even babies are common. With skin branding in NY after brandees wear a two to five inch mark on their chest, upper arms and other places. Branding seemed to take hold in NY around 2008, when I began to notice it. Piercing took hold in NYC around the year 2000 and became a craze.

In Philadelphia, where I currently reside, tattoos are extremely popular, so people wear them from head to toe. Skin branding in Philly is not popular. During the summertime, when people wear less clothing, one rarely notices a brand. Piercings, yes, along with tattoos are very visible in Philadelphia, perhaps in 3 or 6 years, branding will also pick up.

Ann Von Dehsen
Grandma Christine

I never knew my grandmother, Christine, but wish I had because she was quite a character.

Christine married my grandfather James Buinlon, who had immigrated from Scotland with his colorful group of brothers. They married young and had my mother, Jean, when they were barely 20. They settled in the Bronx where my grandfather was hired to do the plastering on several old apartment buildings. Unfortunately, my grandfather died after falling off a ladder at work, leaving my grandmother with a two-year-old daughter. Although they had very little money themselves, his brothers tried to help when they could. However, my grandmother decided to live life as though she did have money, setting off a series of adventures for her and my mother. 

They lived in several nice apartments in the Bronx until they were evicted. Apparently, she and my mom were experts in packing and unpacking, and even took it in stride. At one point, my mother fell in love with a white bedroom set and my grandmother bought it for her. She enjoyed it for several months until it was repossessed. Both she and Christine had the philosophy of “well at least we had it for awhile.” My grandmother made friends with the manager of a movie theater and he would sneak them in the side door after the “moving picture” had started. A friend at the diner saved them homemade soups. 

Christine went out with a man named “Bernie” for several years. Both she and my mom adored him. He was starting his own business and promised them a house once he got the business going. My mom happily remembers sitting in the rumble seat of his car as she accompanied them on their dates. He always brought her little presents and taught her several dance steps. Yet one day, Bernie just stopped coming and they never saw or heard from him again. 

Christine had many jobs. Once she was hired as the pie maker at a small neighborhood restaurant. She had no idea how to bake pies, but with the help of a good friend and a new cookbook, she taught herself over one weekend. She did OK but had a problem knowing when the crust was done, and after burning many pies, she was asked to leave. She also was hired by a local seamstress to do some finishing work at home. She could hardly sew at all, but enlisted her neighbor to hare the work and split the small salary. 

Eventually, Christine was hired as a nanny by a wealthy family in Manhattan. When summer came, they wanted her to join them at their beach house on Long Island. When she reminded them she had a 16 year old daughter that she could not leave alone, they said she and my mom could live in the small cottage behind their house. So for one very short month, Christine and my mother had a taste of the high life and enjoyed every minute. I hate ending stories sadly, but tragically, my grandmother died in her sleep on the 4th of July. She was only 46. 

Pictured here in the pink hoodie is guest transcriber Chrystie. She wrote a story for our new older bud Carol.

Curated by Caitlin Cieri