Friday, March 9, 2012

Grandma's Garage



It was a two car garage that never saw a car parked in it, but if you ever needed anything, it was in Grandma's Garage.

This garage was stacked floor to ceiling with everything you could imagine. Boxes of all sizes packed with everything from Christmas decorations (72 boxes of them!) to out of season, out of size clothes. Brand new garbage cans packed tightly with sheets of all sizes and towels. Cans of Folger's coffee (at one point 72 pounds of it). Christmas presents bought throughout the year and hidden away on the top shelf, away from Grandkids' prying eyes. Cases of toilet paper. Mementos from long ago.

I wish I had a picture of it, because no one ever believes my stories.

One year, my dad was invited to a friend's wedding.  He told my grandma he was going to buy them a Crock Pot (something new that came out that year). Grandma asked him what color he wanted. Yep--out in the garage there were several...

Grandma worked at a local department store. One time, the store sent someone out to her house and to buy back several cases of the toilet paper she had in the garage. It was a great sale and they had run out.

Grandpa always said it cost him $3.00 a day for her to work there.
He was probably right.

The garage was a magical place. There was just enough room in the center that we grandkids would play out there when the weather didn't allow us outside.  But, never ever, during the height of Christmas season. Then, there just wasn't enough hiding spaces for all the presents she thought she needed to buy. Of course, there were seven grandkids, so it took a lot of hiding spaces.

Going off to college was a breeze. I just shopped Grandma's Garage for the dorm life essentials: sheets, towels, coffee pot, coffee. She tried to send toasters and crock pots with me, but the college didn't want us having cooking supplies.

Grandma died in December of my junior year. That night, when we all gathered in her kitchen, the tears fell and laughter rang through the house as we talked about her.  At one point my dad and aunt got up and began going through the pockets of Grandma's aprons.  You see, she also hoarded money. And she kept it in the pockets of her ever present apron.

The following summer, it was time for a garage sale. And we began going through the garage. All of took what we needed--sheets and towels, coffee pots and crock pots. And the rest went up for sale.  We found some things that made us laugh. There was an oak doll bunk bed set that I remembered getting for Christmas one year. Grandpa told us she couldn't find one when it came time to wrap presents, so she went out and bought another.

Even now, 35 years later, I have things from Grandma's garage. Embroidered dish towels that I won't use, remnants of towels I use for rags, tablecloths put out on special occasions, a set of dishes. But it's the Christmas decorations that have really stood the test of time. And every year, when I put them out, I think of her and her seventy two boxes of decorations.





19 comments:

  1. I love every bit of it, Deb. It's the most special memory and I know you must look back & remember so many happy times because of that garage. That was the Depression generation wasn't it? Perhaps we all have tales of a few relatives who "stocked up" just in case. Lovely writing too. I'm so glad to hear so many of the details.

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  2. She sounds like a very organized hoarder! Your post made me smile and remember what my parents had in the garage & basement. And, yes, those Christmas decorations have lots and lots of memories. Thanks for sharing.

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  3. I love your description of your Grandma's Garage. It brought back images of creeping through the crawlspace in my grandparent's basement, which she always sent me through when I visited "searching for treasures." And I'm not going to lie, I also though of Harry Potter and the Room of Requirement!

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  4. Wow, the way you wrap strong arms of craft around this narrative is spectacular. I loved reading this and was sad when it ended. I like the way you write. (I know that's not specific, but it's true.) Plain and simple, I like the way you write.
    Ruth

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  5. At first you had me smiling about the 72 lbs. of Xmas decorations and the Folger's coffee. But then, I felt connected to you about the time you lost your grandmother as a junior in college. I'm glad you still have lots of treasures from her garage to help remind you of her (when you look at them).

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  6. What a wonderful memory of grandma. I could just picture this garage and all the "stuff." I'm with Ruth, I like the way you write.

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  7. So much love in this slice - your grandma sounds like a person bursting with love and joy and generosity to spare.

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  8. Like all the others who have commented, I love this piece. I can visualize your grandma's garage stacked high with all those treasures. What a dear memory of a person so precious to you!

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  9. Entertaining and heartfelt. Really enjoyed reading this. 72 boxes...wow! Enjoyed the details that she also hoarded money in her aprons and that it probably cost your grandpa 3.00 a day for her to work at the department store.

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  10. What a fun description! I can't decide if my favorite part was the Crock Pot or the toilet paper... hehe. Or actually, I loved the ending how you tied it to the present by showing the connection you still feel through the items you have.

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  11. Like Ruth, loved it. I am such a fan of Hoarders and could just imagine all of the treasures that you found in there.

    My mom tends to hide items only to lose them and then years later, we find them. One year, a can of expired cashews.

    Excited to read more of your writing!

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  12. Beautiful slice, Deb. You totally had me in your Grandma's garage...in fact, I think I've seen one or two of them :). Your details...just enough for me to latch on to you as a girl, as a coed, and as an adult. Love it!
    b

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  13. I got lost in this slice. When I am trying to "get through" so many slices and spread my comments as far as possible, it is easy to read without soaking words in. But not your slices. I read and I am "in the zone." I forget I am reading until I get to the end. I am not sure if it is the universality of a slice like this (who can't connect somehow?) or if it is in the beauty of the details you selected, but this slice is magical.

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  14. The spacing of some of the sentences make them really stand out as important.
    "I wish I had a picture of it, because no one ever believes my stories."
    A lovely read. A tender slice. Thank you.

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  15. Thank you all for the kind comments. I wasn't sure I really captured what I wanted to say. I'm glad you connected to it in some small way

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  16. This is a lovely piece. You took me right to this place and I was tempted to reach up and check out a couple boxes of those ornaments. Your description was lovely and tender, in fact this piece brought tears to my eyes. Well done.

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  17. I loved this slice, Deb. It's evident that you remember this special place like you were there just yesterday, the description is rich. You placed that chuckle (Grandpa said it cost him $3.00 a day for her to work there.) in just the right spot. Warmed my heart to both your grandparents.

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  18. I feel like I know your grandma, and I was sad when I thought of that tragic loss your junior year. She sounds like a person you could have never gotten enough of. I am sure her legacy lives on...are you a collector of things, too?

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  19. Garages can, weirdly, be places of deep memory. My grandfather's garage was just like him: meticulous, spotless, every hook on the wall saved for a specific tool or item, everything in its place. A one-car garage with just enough room for the car, so you had to park perfectly. I remember when I started driving and went with him out to a parking lot. I parked in a spot, and he took out a measuring tape to see if I was in the exact middle of the spot. I had to try again until it was perfect.

    That may sound crazy, but I loved him deeply; he was an incredibly kind and generous man, and his quiet, stubborn effort to make things just so is something I've recognized in myself progressively over the years.

    Great reflection that caused me to reflect (though I'm a little late to the party). Thanks, Deb.

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