When I was very young we would often visit my great grandmother’s house. It was a big, two-story place in Portsmouth Virginia (where we lived, along with a lot of extended family. Well, Portsmouth and Chesapeake).
I remember her baking biscuits from scratch. She’d roll out the dough and use a glass to cut the rounds. Instead of re-rolling the odds and ends and cutting more rounds she baked them “as is”. These odd-shaped biscuits were called “goosie goosie ganders” (no idea why) and were for the kids (including me).
One memory that stands out dramatically from that period was the big (or so it seemed to me at the time) pot-bellied stove in the kitchen. Oh, she had a gas range to cook on, but that pot-bellied stove provided heat and one could cook on it.
I want one. I want one badly.
I remember how toasty warm that house was on cold winter nights (not entirely because of that pot-bellied stove, I have to admit). I remember going there for the Christmas holidays. I remember playing with the “cooties” game (not playing the game, just building the bugs). And, yes, that game is still available:
I remember gathering there with more of my extended family, with my mother (divorced, single mother), with Aunt Pauline and Uncle George (actually a great aunt and great uncle–an additional generation back), sometimes with my grandparents, but not often with them. My grandfather was retired military and “double dipping” with a State Department job and they were usually stationed in various other parts of the world–Nigeria, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, many places.
Those people are all gone now. Of the group who spent so many happy hours in that house only my sister and I remain. But that image lives on, an image of comfort and home, an image of happiness.
And it’s what a lot of my characters are trying to achieve for themselves, even if they don’t know it.