Sunday, October 4, 2009
Grandma Moore, Banana Pudding, and the Telephone: An Evening of Terror
Grandma with Uncle Neil
Randy Seaver’s genea-fun for this weekend is the following:
1. What is one of your most vivid childhood memories? Was it family, friends, places, events, or just plain fun?
2) Tell us about it in a comment to this post, a Comment or Note on Facebook, or in a blog post of your own.
One evening when I was about four years old, my parents went out to see a show with my Uncle Neil and Aunt Ina. They left me with my mother’s mother, Grandma Moore, to babysit me for the evening. I think we had had a big dinner that was finished off with banana pudding. I remember that evening well, because it was filled with terror.
Grandma Moore had a real sweet tooth, and for the sake of her health (she may have had geriatric diabetes), her children strictly rationed the sweets she could eat. She was somewhere around her mid-70s at this time and could still get around fairly well and cook for herself, but if her kids found out that she had baked any desserts, they would tell her, “Now Mama, you know you can’t eat all of that; now let’s just put the rest of it up.”
And that’s what happened with the banana pudding. We finished up our meal and the leftovers went into the refrigerator. Off went my parents and aunt and uncle, and Grandma and I sat down to watch TV. Or at least I did. As I sat hypnotized by the TV program, Grandma must have sneaked off to eat more of the pudding. I didn’t notice anything wrong for quite a while, but at some point I heard my grandmother moaning. This was scary. Then Grandma called out to me, “Call the doctor.” I sat there, frozen. “Call the doctor; the number is by the phone.” I got up, walked over to the phone, and stared at it. The number was right there. I was four years old, but I knew my numbers. I did not, however, have much of an idea of how to use a telephone. I don’t know if I was more frightened by what might happen to my grandmother or by the prospect of being punished for not doing what she told me to do. I couldn’t say anything or move from the spot where I stood. Each time she moaned or told me to call the doctor, my fear jumped up a couple of notches.
Finally my parents and Neil and Ina returned. They realized right away that something was wrong and must have called the doctor (I was so numb with fright that I don’t remember much of what happened at this point). No one yelled at me.
I have never been much of a telephone conversationalist. When calling friends or acquaintances, I am always certain that I am calling at an inconvenient time, and always try to time my calls perfectly so that they do not interfere with meals or other relaxation time. Even calls to make appointments are something I tend to put off. It’s not that I don’t enjoy speaking to people over the phone once the conversation gets under way, and I have even been involved in the so-called “Texas telephone call.” That’s when you get a wrong number, but you both realize that the other person is from Texas, and two hours later, after exchanging names, family information, and life histories, you finally hang up. Well, okay, it was not a wrong number, but rather (and this is actually genealogy-related) a telephone conversation with a person in Texas who has a distant connection to me by marriage (he is descended from the wife of a great-uncle by a different husband).
This aversion to the telephone was worse when I was young and shy, but now that I am older and pretty impervious to intimidation, I think it’s just not a habit that I ever developed. And it just may have something to do what that long-ago Evening of Terror.