A grand Old House

(Avatar Magic, by Gerald Franquemont, is on Kindle and downloadable to most computers and reading devices.)

I remember my days as a child when my family would visit Sagamore Hill, the three – storied home of  Theodore Roosevelt. It’s simple, there was nothing so about it. Ha!  Many of the walls of the great sunken living room were adorned by huge animal heads the likes of which I’d only seen or heard of in books.  Menacing bear, tiger, and lion skins lay on the floors looking as if they might rise and pounce at any moment. Hard wood floors and large stairway banisters were all protected from the bright light of day by layered white laced curtains. These all helped to accent the many  large oil paintings hanging on the walls throughout.

Living Room to run around in until caught doing so

Nice rugs-hope they don’t bite

In the rear of this stately mansion was the kitchen, backed by what appeared to be a wood shed. Behind this was an ice house and finally, further off, stood buildings I thought to be where the everyday help lived-they were small, windowed wooden shacks not more than twenty by twenty as I recall. But  the most impressive feature  of all  was the houses’ view  of the harbor-one stretching out below this hill top location as far as the eye could see. Sail boat’s white sails flickered in wind as they scooted left or right across  the bay. To the right of this panorama stood a trellised  grapevine arching  over a walk-way offering a bench or two to sit on.  I was told it was here the President  used to like to sit  during the late afternoon hours.

Right here!

I’m guessing back then visits to this house and others like it conjured up memories in my parents of a time gone by. Of course these times were shaken from our realities by World WAR, hardships, and perhaps by a better understanding of the limited world wide supply of goods, not to mention African Animals. I could only stare at this home wondering how ever was it all possible? Not that my home was any less then middle class. Actually I often thought of my family as being upper-middle class as I grew up. Still it was apparent to me, even as a small child, something had been lost along the way of prosperity-so I thought.

It is at best bizarre to think of the home I raised my children in when compared to the one I enjoyed as a child growing up. I almost have to laugh thinking if only I could have  transported my 7,6 and 4 year old back into my childhood home! So much of what they might see there in my childhood home back in the 1950’s would be strange to them.  Perhaps my home life would seem as different to their home experiences  as I thought  the things I saw at Sagamore Hill were different from my life  so long ago. Oh, the things you’ll see!

The milkman usually beat everyone to our doorstep in the morning, though there was an egg man too who I never really saw much. Men would come to our door almost weekly to sell throw rugs, cleaners and most regularly the Fuller-Brush Man would show up too. The doctor came if you were sick; the knife sharpener drove his truck by clanging a bell as he passed. We could all run out and watch as he sharpened parents and neighbors knives on a big wheel he peddle pushed in circles. For my dad there was a beer man who also brought the soda I loved to drink. All these products, services and more were brought right into our community, right by our houses lining streets full of children playing upon hand chalk-drawn hopscotch boards or stick ball. But most of all, at least to me and the rest of my friends who had never heard of after school care, there was the ice cream men-two of them. And we all knew which one we liked better.

Now who  first called the JUDY ANN ice cream man, “Judy Ann the garbage man” ,and rounded us up to chase this truck down our block until he was off it I just don’t know. But  my whole group of six or so did regularly do this. I still remember the day this driver actually stopped his truck much to our chagrin. He got out, walked on over to us and asked: “WHY do you do this to me?”  Funny at the time I don’t think any of us knew for sure, so this was a hard question to answer. I vaguely remember all of us running away from him as though a swarm of bees were attacking us.

But if truth be told I think the charismatic personality of Bud, the GOOD HUMOR MAN, was the main cause of the Judy Ann’s ice cream truck drivers nightmares on our block. We all just loved this man Bud. Heck, I’d even spend the six silver dollars my Grandma gave me on buying ice cream from this man over his protests against me doing so-Bud even offered to run a credit for me instead as I recall. But I was insistent-he should take the silver dollars. Boy-am I happy about this decision now! Not.  Anyway, there was more proving this Bud man was a miracle PR person.

You see as much as I and my friends chased the Judy Ann the Garbage Man out of town we all knew he had, in fact, the best Italian ices going. Yeah on a hot summer day these Italian Ices could challenge any nutty buddy, chocolate eclair or coconut pop sticks the Good Humor Man had to offer.  The bottoms of these Italian ice cups got all crystallized into a sweet syrup, so good for growing young children.  But maybe, and I’d like to think it, our different reactions to these two different ice cream men was all about heart.

It was an odd day, an end of an era for me when Bud, the Good Humor Man, showed up at our kitchen door. He came telling my Mom he had quit the route. He said my mom shouldn’t let her children eat the Good Humor Ice cream any more. I was standing right there hearing him explain the company had turned from all natural ice creams products to artificial additives. He was upset-he said others had quit their routes too in protest. He hoped the company would change their mind and go back to a natural product. This all had to take place around 1958ish or even earlier.

Of course, the company changed nothing as far as I know and Bud became a past memory from my childhood. He’ll never really understand how much his daily rounds, ice creams and smiles meant to me and to all my friends as we ran out of the house flagging him down on hot, sunny afternoons. He used a special sequential ring of his truck bells I still recall today.  I’m sure, if my brother were alive today, he could recall this ringing tune with me ring for ring. So many whiffle ball games interrupted by special ice cream pops. Our dog, Socks, always guarded the whole process no doubt waiting to lick the pop- sickle sticks or ice cream cups as well.

In these days our communities were busy places-full of street playing children, full of servicemen, full of  mothers who stayed home and full of times gone by……..2/17/11 you should have seen 2/17/57.

Brothers with our dog Socks–

Break time from baseball-