By Cheri Marcovitch
I found an old photo of my grandmother (my dad’s mother). She was with her girlfriends at the beach (circa 1917). Some say I favor my grandmother Ida’s looks and share her love of flowers. She had my family over every Sunday for leg of lamb with all the trimmings.
She and I would go out in her backyard where she had the most spectacular sweet pea vines. Hundreds of blooms in many gorgeous colors. She would let me cut the sweet peas with grown-up scissors and arrange them in a vase for the table. I have tried to grow them at my house and you need full sun and a trellis to let them climb. I’ve had no luck growing them, but they still remain my very favorite flower.
Another memory I have of her was the way she cooked. Every pot on the stove was set on full high flames. The flames would reach the handles. I was amazed she did not burn the whole dinner or the house for that matter. To my surprise, all the food was amazingly delicious. My grandmother was a full-time working lady.
She and her husband, my grandpa, had their own real estate business. I do remember going to their office and playing with the phone and huge adding machine. It was so big and the keys were hard to press down. I got to take the paper receipt home and show it to my mother. I later realized Grandma made everything in a hurry to feed her children after coming home from work and she wanted to get dinner on the table. When my own daughter sets the burners on high, I like to tease her and say, “Are you cooking Grandma Ida-style?”
One time when I spent the night at my grandma’s, she said we were going to bake a chocolate cake, my favorite. I could hardly wait to begin. She let me use her mixer, which was so much fun watching it swirl around, and I carefully scraped the sides of the bowl. I was also delighted it was a two-layer round cake. I think my mom made only 9-by-13-inch sheet cakes. This was going to be a “real” cake. After baking and cooling the cake, which seemed to take forever, it was time to frost the cake. We made homemade chocolate frosting and began to cover the two-layer cake.
I was in charge of smoothing and spreading the frosting with a knife. We ran out of frosting and could not finish covering the cake. I thought she would say we need to make more frosting, but to my dismay, she was OK with it being void of frosting on one side and said it did not matter. In my mind it was shocking — a cake half-frosted really bothered me. I never forgot that half-decorated cake. I was probably 9 or 10 years old.
A funny bit, my grandma was always the hostess for Thanksgiving. She made everything, including the pies. She really outdid herself, including homemade pickles. Every year, it seemed, when we were stuffed and had finished the pies, she would announce that she forgot the sweet potatoes. She would rush back into the kitchen pull them out of the white enamel roaster and place them on a plate. No one was even interested in them by now.
Looking back, I can honestly can say no one ever ate her sweet potatoes. I’m sure they were delicious.
I fondly remember a pretty round pink music box on Grandma’s dressing table. She let me wind it up and listen to the music as she put on her makeup. The tune has been in my head all these years. “Younger than Springtime.”