To Be Honest


Chapter 16

The Little Princess



Return to Chapter 15                       Proceed to Chapter 17

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Readjusting to single life at just-turned-thirty was not easy for Martha.  Her parents did what they could to help, particularly with a view toward “insulation”—drawing the curtains on the immediate past.  It would be several years before Martha learned that Murel had written to her after she had left Miami, letters which Joseph and Mathilda had decided not to show her.  However, to “boost her ego,” they offered to finance her getting a nose job; she was delighted and jumped at the chance.  Shortly thereafter, in search of inner serenity as well as financial independence for herself and her child, Martha returned to Urbana.  There she worked two part-time jobs, in the Chemistry Library and the Education Department's Bureau of Research and Service.

Joseph and Mathilda kept Sherry with them in Chicago.  Now, for the first time, the elder Ehrlichs had a chance to raise a baby with all the time and attention they wished to devote.  There had never been enough time when Martha and George were born, because there had never been enough money; Joseph and Mathilda had both had to work long hard hours to keep their family afloat.  But a new opportunity presented itself in the form of Sherry, the Little Princess, and the Ehrlichs at last were well enough off that they could afford to lavish plenty of time on her.

Mathilda continued keeping a record (entirely in English) of Sherry’s early life.  “Here is your grandmother again—hoping you will appreciate my efforts some day,” she would write, and “Seems like I always let writing go when I should record each new thing you can do, but that is how things go.”  What follows are selected extracts of How Things Went.

1949 Oct. 21.  My Darling Sherry, it is a long time since I wrote to you, but there was nothing worth saying till now.  You and your Mother’s coming back again, this time to stay for good.  She’s going back to Urbana to teach school again.  She will be happy to teach as she always loved it, and everyone loved her too.  We are happy to have you, my dearest, you are a very good baby...  We have a hand embroidered curtain on our door, have two little donkeys embroidered and a small window at the middle.  Grandpa takes you every morning up in his arms while I fix up your bath and he shows you the little “csacsi” which is a Hungarian name for donkey, and you laugh out loud.  I don’t know if it’s because “kicsi csacsi* sounds funny, or because you like to see the different colors.  You always reach out to touch them so you must see what it is.  Grandpa is just so crazy about you he said he doesn’t know how he could have enjoyed life before you came in our family.  But I love you too my darling, and so does your Uncle George and everybody else in the family....

1949 Nov. 2.  Hello Sherry Dearest! This will be brief because I have lots to do today.  I just want to record it that you could hold your small water bottle all alone up to drink from it.  You were so cute while I let go of it and you just held it up and looked so mischievous to Grandpa and me, and laughed out loud and we two with you...  We could just eat you up when you laugh like that.  Your Mommy is coming in next weekend to see you, she’s very anxious to, but couldn’t for a month before.  Now she works steady at the University of Illinois as a Chemistry Librarian, which is OK till she can get back to teaching...  You are out on the porch now in your Crib sleeping under the sunshine.  We had to dress you warm as it is cold now.  You even have a pair of mittens on I crocheted for you and now I am making slippers also.

1949 Dec. 30.  Christmas is gone, your first, my darling, we have a small tree on the table for you fixed up very nice, just like in the old country everything what’s on it can be eaten.  Fancy cookies, candy, silver wrapped walnuts, and a Santa Claus made of cotton, very cute.  Your Mommy and Uncle George came to spend the holidays with us and got a thrill out of watching you when the lights were on the tree.  Your eyes opened wide and you looked at it for seconds, then looked at your Mother who was holding you up, then looked around to all of us and smiled...

1950 Jan. 4.  We were amazed, tonight you stood up in your bed and took several steps around holding to the head boards.  We got your first shoes today too, so now you really can go to town with those on your little feet.  Grandpa and I were laughing while we watched you trying to stand up, and when you did it you laughed too.  You are such a little show-off, but such a darling too, we love you so much, it is all pleasure to take care of you here.  I am writing to your dear Mommy about your new accomplishments.  I am just so sorry she can’t see all the new things you are doing each day.  But she was with you on Christmas and she’s coming again very soon.  She loves you terribly and it hurts her to be away but she has to earn a living for both of you.

1950 Jan. 18. ...Now we have to put away everything breakable but mostly the books and magazines interest you.  There’s two small end tables next to the couch piled high on the lower part with these things, and you are happiest when you stand up there and shove off everything from it, real heavy books too.  No matter how hard you are crying, if we give you a magazine you stop instantly, and your grandfather’s very happy you like books...

1950 Apr. 11.  Hi Darling, as you see it’s quite a few months since I wrote to you.  Not because nothing’s new with you, but because I was just neglectful.  Today you are ten months old...  Dr. Zisler who takes care of you saw you again, and told us you are a very well-developed baby for your age.  But for some unknown reason you don’t like him, and never let him look in your throat...  It’s Easter, and your Mommy came home from school to see you and us.  It was very bad weather, it rained and froze right on, and got terribly slippery.  It looked more like Christmas time, than Easter.  George was home yesterday, they couldn’t come in together, he had work to do back at the University.  They both were pleased to see you developing so nicely.  Your Mother too looks a lot better now and happier since she’s back at school.  Even though she misses you terribly, she knows you are well taken care of till she finds an apartment and can take you home to live with her.  We dread that time, but we understand she needs you, and your place is with your Mother.  We can come out and see you both when we get too lonesome for you.

1950 May 14. ...Your Mother came in to see you on Mother’s Day and was very pleased with your progress.  You took to her like you know you belong together, and she was very happy about it and so were your grandparents, that’s how it should be.  She got her appointment to Thornburn Jr. High School for next fall to teach there General Science.  And she is going to take you to live with her in Champaign[-Urbana] Ill. where her school is.  We will miss you very much, but she misses you too, and as soon as she finds an apartment where is room enough, you will go to her.  But Grandpa and I will come and see you as often as we possibly can, we don’t want you to forget us so soon...

1950 June 12.  Well my Darling, yesterday was your first birthday, your Mommy and Uncle George came in for the day to help celebrate this very important day of your life.  It was so nice to have them both home together, but it was a very short day, as they were driving and wanted to get back home in daylight yet.  Your Mother was so pleased to see how much you grew and how smart you’ve got since the last time.  We all had a nice time together, you took to your Mother right away, but was shy at George, which hurt his ego a bit, he loves you a lot too.  He comes in so seldom, that you just can’t remember, which isn’t your fault at all.  You got lots of birthday presents, and I baked a small birthday cake, and your Mommy brought a candle which’s a #1 for the one year.  I’m going to try to save it for you to see all the cards you’ve got, and little mementoes if possible.  Some day you will get a kick out of them, and hope you will forgive me for all the mistakes I’m making in writing to you.  But I had no chance to go to school in America, and had to learn all by myself how to write in English.  We are all wishing you a very happy birthday, and many many happy returns of the day, and hoping you and your Mother will have countless happy days and years together.

1950 Aug. 18.  My Darling Sherry, it’s almost two weeks since you went to live with your Mother in “Champaign Urbana” and we both miss you terribly, especially your Grandfather, as he can’t adjust himself to changes as quick as I can.  I traveled on the train with you too, to help your Mommy on the way.  But you were so good we had no trouble at all on the way.  Grandfather stayed in front of our train to see you through the window as long as possible and you whimpered a little because you wanted him closer.  I saw he had a hard time keeping his tears back too, and it must have been worse for him staying behind all alone.
       I stayed four days with you to help get used to the change, but it seemed perfectly natural for you there, and didn’t make much difference.  Your Uncle George came to play with you every day while I was there and you got very friendly with him, which made all of us very glad because you took your time at our house to warm up to him before.  Now in two more days Grandfather and I will drive down to see you...  Wonder if you will remember us when we come?  If not Grandfather will feel very bad, but you are so young only fourteen months old my sweet, can’t expect too much of you just yet.

1950 Aug. 21.  Here I am again my darling Baby! talking to you again.  Yesterday we came to see you, the first time after you left us to live at your Mother’s house in Champaign.  We were wondering if you’d forgot us after two weeks of being away.  We got there eleven o’clock AM and you were the first we saw when we came in the door.  Grandfather scooped you up in his arms and as soon as you heard his voice you remembered we belonged together, and after that you just clung to either him or me, hugging our knees and crying to be picked up...  You are so young my sweet, and so smart, showing off all the new tricks you learned in these last two weeks.  Finally your Mommy held you in her arms till you fell asleep and while you slept Grandfather and I stole away, kissing you softly not to waken you, to save you from getting upset by leaving you behind.  But part of our heart stayed with you, and I saw tears in your Grandfather’s eyes while we were driving homeward in our car. We just sat quiet for hours before trusting ourselves to talk about you without a break in our voices.  You changed a lot even in this short time, look more mature and grown up, you also have another tooth since we saw you last.  We both miss you more than ever before, and love you dearly.

Martha and Sherry set up house at 112½ Stanage, an attic apartment in a small white house in Champaign.  “Sherry remembers beautifully, and doesn’t touch stove, telephone, or books,” Martha wrote her parents.  “The rest of the house is hers.”

The onetime self-styled wallflower Martha now had to play the role of Mrs. Lewis, single parent and provider; but in the process she was at last, subconsciously, becoming Assertive.   “It just happened,” she would later muse.  “I got pushed into being assertive, really didn’t have a choice—then it felt good, and I didn’t shrivel.”  Certainly the sink-or-swim profession of teaching, where you had to assert yourself to accomplish anything you wanted, helped the Assertive Martha to emerge, and in the Fall of 1950 she returned to teach at Thornburn Junior High.

George had introduced Martha to his circle of friends in Champaign-Urbana, and she too had become very close to the Holshousers.  When she first resumed teaching, Sherry spent the schooldays with Marion Holshouser, who had two little daughters of her own.  Then “by long and devious routes and much telephoning” Martha found a nursery school run by Mrs. Winnie Padgett, and Sherry was enrolled.  It was George who usually took her there in the morning, carrying her down the outside stairway and encouraging Sherry to say “Good morning, sky.”  She was in love with the landlord’s flower garden and the landlord feared her effect upon it, so George had her greet the flowers by touching each with one finger only, saying “Hello rose,” “Hello tulip,” and so on.  “When George goes after her, the older kids run ahead to tell Winnie ‘Uncle George is here for Sherry,” Martha wrote her parents.  “He has a label now— ‘Uncle George’ to all the kids. I think it pleases him immensely.  Then they all line up to kiss her goodbye.  Quite a ceremony.  All this for two bucks a day.”

Grandma Mathilda was not at all enchanted by the idea of her Princess in a nursery school, a concern which George responded to in a lengthy letter.  After advising his mother on how to take photos (“Be careful to put the main subject of interest in the center and be careful of the background”) he praised the school’s homelike environment and noted that Sherry was quite happy there:

I frankly feel that this place is an ideal solution to the whole problem of where to put Sherry during the day.  It is helping to round out her personality.  She now is able to meet people, play with other children, without trouble and there is a trained person to keep an eye on things at all times.  This type of setup will do a world of good for Sherry and this is no substitute for home life, but it is a supplement.  I want to emphasize this.  This school is not a poor excuse for a home, it is like a very very friendly, small kindergarten where Sherry can learn things she can’t at home and where she makes and meets new friends all the time.  The best evidence is the pleasure Sherry gets out of her day there.  You can be sure I wouldn’t say all this if Sherry was unhappy, but since she enjoys her “school” and it is a good one, well I’m convinced.  I hope you are too...

1950 Dec. 31.  Hello my Darling!  We had you here in Chicago with Grandfather and me for two weeks.  I brought you home a week before the Christmas holiday and your Mommy and Uncle George came on later to spend a few days too.  We enjoyed you tremendously Sherry dearest.  You grew so much, mostly mentally, you are small for your age, but very smart, you talk very good, repeat every word you hear even Hungarian, and your Grandpa taught you to say the Greek alphabet and you knew it was funny because you always laughed after it...  I made you a small Christmas tree, trimmed it the European way with candies, walnuts and fancy cookies besides tinsel and lights.  You were so sweet when you stood in front of it and asked for Cookies and Candy, but never touched any, waited till someone came and gave you some from it.  Every time the light went on you clapped your hands and said “ohh” and were terribly happy to see it, and when we shut it off you asked “light, light” tree.  Now we won’t see you till Easter time, we’ll stay in Florida till April.  I wish we could take you too but your Mother didn’t want to part with you that long.  Well, Happy new year my dear and lots of luck in the coming year.

1951 Apr. 1.  Hello my sweet!  We just came back from seeing you and your Mommy in Champaign.  After three months in Florida you did recognize Grandpa and me, which made us both very happy.  You changed a lot since we saw you last Christmas, but for the better and you got very smart too, talking everything and very plain just like a grownup.  But no wonder as your Grandpa proudly tells everyone you are going to College.  Anyway you are with College people all the time, including your Mommy and Uncle George, and all their friends.  You are a very sweet child, goodnatured and goodhearted.  Whatever you have and someone asks you to give it up, even Cookies, you do it every time.  Hope when you grow up you’d be a little more selfish and look out for your own interest first.  We both love you more than you can guess.

1951 May 11.  My Dearest Sherry!  You and Mommy came to visit us for the weekend...  We bought a large 20” TV set just a few weeks ago and you too enjoyed seeing the pictures on it.  But most you liked to see dancing and you tried to imitate everything you saw, even how to curtsy, by putting one foot behind the other which was a hard thing for a 23-months-old baby.  Grandpa and I just watched you instead of the pictures and got a bigger kick out of you...

1951 Aug. 30.  Hi Darling: It is a long time since I chatted with you, but everything was so crowded in and you grew mentally so much I didn’t know where and what to say to you.  You and your Mommy were here for a short vacation, she left after a week and let you stay with Grandpa and me for an extra week which we all three of us enjoyed tremendously...  You love to help in the house, help me make the beds and wipe the silverware and small dishes, and you are doing a good job of it too.  Last week I made you very happy by letting you have a piece of cookie dough, and we both were making Cookies to take them to Mommy.  We will miss you dearest, but your Mother needs you more than we do, because she’s alone there and Grandpa and I have each other yet.  We will go see you on the 28th of Sept., when your Mother will have her birthday too.  I would be so happy if I’d be sure she is contented with her life as it is, just to have you and her friends; but I never can tell what she is thinking and she never talks to me about the things that made up her life a few years ago, meaning your Daddy.  I am afraid she still feels deeply hurt by him, and that’s why she doesn’t talk of it even with me.  We all love her and you dear, more than we can tell.

1952 Jan. 3. My Darling Sherry! You are here again, your Mommy brought you home after Christmas and left you with Grandpa and me for ten days.  You never will know what these few days really mean for both of us, and I am proud to say you are enjoying them just as we old folks do.  You were home in Champaign for Christmas and Santa Claus was very good to you, got so much toys you just didn’t know what to play with first.  I was there too and two days after Xmas we all three of us came to Chicago to be with your Grandfather.  You are getting to be a big girl and don’t like to be called a baby anymore.  Grandpa started to teach you to spell Cat and Dog, and was so happy each time when you remembered how to spell it.  Then now he’s teaching “Geometry” with drawings like these and you both have lots of fun learning them, what each object means.  You have a wonderful mind and memory, can learn everything very fast.  You love to help me clean house, put the bedspread on the bed and wash and wipe dishes.  Just like your Mommy was when she was your age.  When we asked her “What are you doing Mártuka?” she always answered “Working” and laughed just like you...

Not far from Thornburn in the spring of 1952, Martha discovered a two-story single-family dwelling at 1010 West Stoughton, which had been split into a duplex.  With "massive economizing," she and Sherry were able to move from Stanage into the first floor apartment, which featured a fireplace.

The following summer Martha went off for a long and much-needed vacation, touring the East with Esther Ewald, and Sherry stayed with two people whose names she had turned into a chant and repeated over and over: “My Grampa Ehrlich and my Gramma Matyu.”

1952 Sept. 6.  My Darling Sherry!  You were here in Chicago with us for 2½ months this summer.  Your Mother went on a vacation, the first in five years, and she needed it badly.  So we took care of you all this time, your Grandfather and I, and we all enjoyed it a lot, including yourself.  You learned an awfully lot while you were here, Grandpa took all the time you wanted to play with you, and to teach you a lot of things.  You learned to read the A.B.C.’s fluently, capital and small letters alike, and you loved to show off to anyone who asked you.  We were so proud of our little granddaughter, Grandpa almost burst with pride each time.  But now it’s over a week you and your Mommy went back home and we miss you something terrible.  You were attending Nursery school while you stayed with us, so you had other children to play  with and we could do some work while you were away from 9:30 AM to 3:30 PM five days a week.  And weekends we took you to the Parks and beaches and you had such a good time.  I have some snapshots in your albums to prove it to you when you grow older and want to remember about these things.  You called me up on the 2nd, long distance, it was my 57th birthday.  It made me so happy, but at first I didn’t recognize your voice, it was so soft and sweet.  When I asked who it was you said Me, Gramma.  Then I knew, and it made me even more lonesome for to see you.  So next Sunday Grandpa and I will ride out to see you and your Mother, I can hardly wait for the day and Grandpa even more so.  He’s crazy about you.  I love you too very much my sweet.  Your old Grandma Ehrlich.

1953 Jan. 12.  [To Martha] I am starting to translate your childhood Diary my dear, so you and your children can read it too, whenever they like. It might not be a perfect translation, but I will do my best to make it as close as possible.  I hope my darling, you will enjoy reading it personally sometime; you cried the first time you saw the book, and heard the recordings of your earliest start on life.  Dad and I were very happy, we were in love, and we had you to show for it.  We loved you best of all, and when you started to understand things, we both were overjoyed.  So here, I will start on it, and hope you and your family my dear daughter will enjoy reading it too.  Your loving Mother Matyu.

Mathilda wrote her translation on unused pages toward the end of the Diary.  Occasionally she skipped over bits, such as the list of new words little Márta was learning (“I’m not going to repeat the words, because in this translation they won’t mean much to you or your children either if they’re going to ever read it”).  And once in awhile Mathilda could not resist adding parenthetical commentary: when József resolved to teach Márta that good books and good plays were worth more than silly friends or dances, Mathilda observed that “he sure changed his view since then ha?”  The translation took her nearly seven months, but on August 3 she wrote Martha:

Well my dear, I finished with the translating today. Tried my very best to follow it as close as I possibly could, not taking or putting anything more to it than the original diary had.  I know I made spelling mistakes plenty in it, but I also know you forgive me for that.  But I hope it isn’t so bad as not to be understood by you when you read it.  I am happy to still be here to see you and your brother George growing up, and on your own, doing something you both want and like to do, and also to see you measured up to our expectation of loving one another, as we hoped sister and brother to understand and care for each other.  Life is too short my dear children to do less, and I am asking you again to be good to each other as long as you both live, and be happy, very happy my dears, then we shall be too, content in your happiness.  So long my darlings, Your ever loving Mom.

1953 July 31.  [Letter to Sherry, headed by rows of capital letters]  Hello my Sweet! You were visiting your grandparents in Chicago for just a short week.  Your Mommie was lonesome for you and she came in to take you home sooner than we expected, but we had lots of fun even for this short period.  I just want to show you, my dear, how smart you were when you were four years and two months old.  You wrote these A.B.C.’s all by yourself, and you were so happy when you saw your accomplishment.  We all thought you really deserved our praise, for your age it’s quite good too. You can spell out long words like “Mississippi” and count till fifty without any mistakes.  You always ask your Grandfather to read with you the headlines from the newspaper, and you can spell out all the letters on it.  Your Mommie was a smart little girl also when she was your age, but I think you’re even smarter in some ways.  I am saving this paper for you to see when you get older and you will get it from your Mother.  I hope Grandfather and I will still be around too, but who knows?  We both are nearing our 60th birthdays and time just rushes by at our age.  So till I have again some interesting things to tell you, I say so long my Pet, your Grandmother loves you more than you ever know.

1953 Nov. 1.  My Darling Sherry!  I took you back to your Mother’s today, after a ten-day lovely visit with us in Chicago...  You had a wonderful time with your Grandpa, he played with you all the time, never getting tired of it, sometimes I was thinking he is a bigger child than you, my sweet.  But you both had a grand time like always...  Grandfather took you to see the first play to see in the Goodman Theater, “Cinderella.”  He told me when you came home, it was a wonderful experience for both of you, but especially for him to watch your face when the story you know so well unfolded before your eyes.  But when a sad part came, you turned your head away, didn’t want to see it.  Just when “Cinderella” was happy,  then you too felt happy...  A few days after you had been in the Theater to see “Cinderella” you fell off a chair and were crying hard, I guess you got hurt a bit.  But midst of the crying, you told your Grandpa, “As long as I am crying, let’s play I am Cinderella.”  Which struck him so funny he started to laugh, and you too with him.  But you wanted to play that all the time.  Grandpa took turns being the stepsister or stepmother.  But you, always the Fairy Godmother or Cinderella...

1954 April.  My dear, your vacation has been extended over the Easter because your Mother had to go to a Teachers’ Convention out of Town.  But neither of us mind that, we sure are having a nice long visit together, but in a few days I will take you back to your Mama.  The other night while we all were watching TV all of a sudden you said, “I wish I was two Sherrys.”  Grandfather asked you why?  You answered, “Then one could go home to Mommy and the other Sherry could stay here with you and Grandma.”  We were surprised and so pleased to think you loved us enough that you’d wish a thing like being two, to divide yourself for us.  Then again you said “I wish I was seventeen years old.”  When Grandpa asked why? you smiled kind of shy, and said “Oh you wouldn’t understand, you don’t like cowgirls.”  So you’d like to be seventeen so you could be one cowgirl.  This, and to be a ballerina is all your wish now.  You love to watch dancers on TV, and trying hard to do what they do.  You are very graceful when you dance.  Hope your Mother can send you to dancing school while you are still young...

1954 August.  Hello Darling! Your Mother took you home yesterday after a three week vacation with us in Chicago.  We had a lovely time together, playing Doctor and Nurse with your grandfather almost all the time.  I hope really, when you get older too, you still would like to be a nurse as you say now.  We read a lot to you as you love books, as much as your Mother and Uncle George ever loved it.  Could listen to stories all day if we could read that long to you.  But we both get tired of reading as our voices are not too strong, but you are a sweet little girl and when we tell you we can’t read any longer, you right away say OK.  Then Grandpa takes a piece of paper and pencil and teaches you different things.   These are your first arithmetic problems, quite neat for a five-year-old, no?

In January 1955 Martha wrote her parents that “Sherry was expounding words of wisdom to Winnie who said—‘Guess it pays to have a teacher for a mother.’  The answer was—‘Oh, I don’t learn anything from my mother—my grandfather teaches me all I know!’  After that what else is there to say?”  Mathilda responded:

I just have this to say to you, Sherry my Pet.  Your learning comes mostly from your Mother, because you are with her most of the time.  But from her, teaching comes as everyday doings, which you darling don’t notice as much as the few days at times you spend here with us.  Then everything stands out more in your mind.  But all your nice manners, and speech, come from your Mother’s, which you sometimes forget when you are here, because Grandpa lets you get away with things your Mother nor I don’t approve of, don’t ever forget that my dear.

1955 Jan. 9.  Hello Sherry my Sweet!  I just took you home after a two week vacation with your grandparents in Chicago...  While here, you sure had a good time playing with Grandpa most of the days, and when I had the time I did the same.  I have to admit that now you are 5½ years old you have a mind of a much older child, but just as stubborn too.  We had quite a few arguments about that, and sometimes we got impatient with you, because you wanted your way all the time even if you knew you were wrong.  But we loved one another just the same, and enjoyed your visit with us. I felt bad when I came away to catch my train after I took you home, because you started crying when I put my hat on.  You didn’t want me to go home.  Hope the next time you come for a visit you’d be more sensible than that.  You had lots of fun with the pink ballerina dress I made you for a Christmas present, and your Uncle George got you a Cinderella wrist watch, and your Mommy got you a manicure set, and a lot of other nice things I can’t exactly remember...
       Hoping when you read these lines you will be able to remember all the happy days in your life with us here in Chicago.

“...I remember lots of little things, as children do.  Things that other people are amazed I’d remember.  The first place I remember them living in was on Devon Avenue in Chicago.  The building had a round window over the door.  Grandpa taught me ‘Pig Latin’ one day carrying me up the steps to the apartment.  It was a small, cozy place.  The store with its mirrors in front, then the shop, then home.  There were French windows between the shop and the living room, covered with sheer white curtains.”  (Whenever there was a customer in the shop, Sherry and those in the apartment would have to whisper; they “mustn’t disturb the customer.”)

The living room had “a beautiful desk and a bookcase with glass doors that slip up above each shelf to get at the books...  The bedroom had yellow wallpaper on it with narrow white stripes and garlands of flowers.  At first I had a crib (light blue, I think) and then a rollaway bed.  And in the mornings I’d crawl into bed with them.  He’d always tell me a bedtime story too.”  (Sherry would balk at bathtime—the Devon tub was an “old Victorian footed thing”—but once in it she would start playing, and never want to come out.  Grandpa always sat nearby “to make sure I didn’t drown or anything.”)

“The kitchen was big, with an enamel table with a red border in the middle of the floor.  The floor was linoleum of red and white squares, and the gas stove was in a little room of its own, off to one side.  It was a very old stove and Grandma would always make me go away when she lit it with the match.  And there was a very tiny back porch just big enough for two chairs.  In summer Grandpa and I would sit out there in the evenings with a jar and catch fireflies.  But we’d always let them go before we went in.  Once we found a bird that was hurt and tried to take care of it.  We put it in a shoebox and tried to feed it bread soaked in milk, but it died.  He took a shovel and we went into the back yard and buried it.  If I went there today I could probably show you almost the exact spot.

“I remember Grandma baking cookies too, at that same enamel table.  And putting icing and nuts on some of them.  And how good they were dunked in milk...  Her old treadle sewing machine in the shop, and the button box.  I still have the little coat and cap they made for one of my dolls out of some sort of curly blond fur.  And a dress from a leftover scrap of one of Grandma’s old dresses...

“It always smelled just like Grandma and Grandpa’s home should smell—a combination of mothballs (love that smell) and cookies and whatever fantastic things Grandma was cooking for dinner.  And age.  It’s very strange but age has its own scent too—musty, somehow, and warm and cozy and very safe...”

Proceed to Chapter 17 of To Be Honest

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* "Little donkey."
Rectangle, triangle, etc.
Simple addition, subtraction, and “geometry.”

Last updated August 22, 2009

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