Grandma's Social Life
The week started on Monday for grandma's social life. Almost every Monday morning she would take the laundry to the cellar washtub with its wooden scrub board and attack the scrubbing with the vigor of a general going into battle--soaping--scrubbing and hand wring each piece until she could almost hear the clothes screaming. Back up three flights of steps to the kitchen hall and her bag of wooden clothes pins. Carefully open the window and no matter what season hang the clothes on the outdoor line.If it were winter the clothes would come in stiff as a board but she would say "they need fresh air". If it were spring she would say "the clothes come in with happy faces". Tuesday and Wednesday were cleaning day but Thursday was special. It was taking two busses to the Jewish section of Newark NJ from Hillside NJ. Early in the morning she got out her 2 net shopping bags-folded them tightly and put them in a very large pocketbook which looked even larger because grandma was very short. We never knew her weight or height as she never went to a doctor. She brought from Russsia all the cures for "you name it--she can cure it". Who can argue with grandma? When she got off the last bus she was in heaven. They talked Yiddish on the street--we lived in a christian neighborhood. The smells from Bella's Live Chicken Market and Izzie's Appitizer Store were pure perfume to her. First to Bella's where Bella ,a burly lady , would come from behine the counter and give her a squeeze a wrestler couldn't do. Bella's long apron appeared to have been white at one time but was mixed with rainbow stains. They would talk children and illness and then grandma would say "who is chopping and who is plucking--you or Moisha(Bella's husband)---fat enough to make grevens and don't forget the baby eggs for soup". When the transaction was completed grandma would put everything in one shoppig bag and with a "zeit gezunt" and a wave she was off. Next came Izzie's Appie Store where large wooden barrels stood on the sidewalk with large ladles to scoup up the sour cream--the pickles in the brine or picled herring. In the summer Izzie would swish the flies away before he would scoup. Inside the store was a refrigerated counter for cheeses--lox--white fish and preserved meats. On top of the counter were packages of nuts and candy- chocoate covered jellies and two kinds of hahavah. I went with grandma occasionally and Izzie would give me a slice of candy. I always hoped he didn't use the same knife for fish and candy. When grandma left Izzie's her net bags were filled and very heavy for a small person. If she had know a more modern phrase she would have said "mission accomplished". In her own world she would have said "what a wonderful country. I come here and I get everything in two stores." And then she would smile and wipe her eyes and glasses that were always smudged and in Yiddish thank G-d everyday for a wonderful country to live in and President Rosevelt should live to 136. Grandma to me represented the good and true in life.