Uncle Eddie & Aunt Helen

The first ten years of my life were spent living in West Philadelphia.  It was a typical inner city neighborhood.  We lived in row homes.  Some of the houses were twins (or half a double as some say, or semi-detached).  We had an alley way along the edge of the back yard that ran the length of the block.  That is where the garbage men collected our trash.  Though Grandmom usually buried the biodegradable stuff (banana peels, apple cores, stuff like that) in the vegetable garden to enhance her tomatoes, peppers and fig tree.

In the house on our right lived our best friends Anthony and his little sister, Robin.  My brother and I were basically the same age as they were.  We all walked to the Catholic elementary school together, except on rainy days when one of our parent’s drove us in.  On sunny Saturdays we played “army man” or “Batman & Robin” on Anthony’s front porch.  I, of course, got to play Catwoman.  Huzzah!  Other favorite games were double-dutch jump rope and hopscotch.

But the best time of all was playing on the front stoop of Uncle Eddie and Aunt Helen’s house.  They lived to the left of our house.  We had narrow walk ways between our houses with a big patch of grass between them.  Grandmom planted her hydrangea bushes there.  They bloomed big and gorgeous every spring. To this day I still love hydrangea bushes.

Anyway, Uncle Eddie and Aunt Helen did not have any children that I recall.  They were old, old, old too; at least to little 6 year old eyes.  I remember Uncle Eddie’s snow white hair and black rimmed glasses.  Aunt Helen’s hair was red with white and silver roots.  (Guess she dyed it…on an irregular basis.)  They always smelled like super sweet candy too.

They would sit on their wooden rockers on their front porch while I sat on the step and played with the myriad pots of play dough they kept laying around for the ‘kids’ to play with.  Blueberry and apple pies were made on a regular basis and of course, each person had to have a taste!  Uncle Eddie and Aunt Helen would humor this little impish girl as I served pie on play dough plates. They had english ivy growing up the brick wall of their house in which I found great pleasure in pulling off.

I continue to hold great affection for these people who were so patient with me and permitted me many hours of contented play on their front stoop.

Little did I realize that the delicious sweet candy smell came from their coffee cups which were heavily spiked with whiskey!  No wonder I associate the smell of whiskey with good feelings!  LOL!

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7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Suzanne
    Sep 24, 2008 @ 21:46:57

    The first five years of my life we lived in a “shotgun” house not far from Churchill Downs in Louisville, KY. It’s called a “shotgun” house because all of the rooms are in a row, and if you look in the front door, you can see all the way back to the back door. We had a very tiny front yard enclosed in a picket fence with a patch of very green grass. The back yard didn’t have much grass, and there was an alley running behind all the houses on the block. I remember the “rag man” and the “vegetable man” coming down the alley in their horse-drawn carts. The rag man collected any old clothes and rags you had to give, and the vegetable man sold fresh vegetables and fruits in season. I remember my Mama running out to stop them to give rags or to buy fruits and vegetables. I remember the “ice man” bringing a huge block of ice to put in our ice box, too. He carried it using a giant tongs and carried it over his shoulder. He’d walk right up on our side porch and open the back of the ice box and put it in there. My older brother attended a kindergarten in what I thought was the most beautiful school in the world. It had HUGE oak trees all around it that created the best deep shade. The building itself was brick with some sort of gray rock around the doors and windows that I thought was wonderful. We moved from there just a couple of months before I was old enough to go to Kindergarten, and the new neighborhood didn’t have kindergarten. So, I missed out on kindergarten, which wasn’t required back in the very early 1950’s.

    What wonderful memories, Philippa. Thank you.

  2. Mom
    Sep 24, 2008 @ 04:18:41

    We had great neighbors as I recall when we lived in West Philly. Uncle Eddie and Aunt helen lived on one side and Uncle Bunny and Aunt Greta Werngren lived in the house attached to ours. Uncle Bunny use to push Phillipa in her coach on his daily walk. He and Aunt Greta loved Phillipa as though she was their very own Granddaughter They moved when Uncle Bunny died and Anthony and Robin’s parents became our new neighbors. Remember that Phollipa?

  3. Matt
    Sep 24, 2008 @ 03:57:09

    They sound like lovely people. I hope I meet them someday.

  4. victoria
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 22:40:46

    this is so sweet. such good memories.
    it makes me wish I had grandparents still alive for my kids to get to know. we had kids young, so our kids have young-ish grandparents. not a bad thing, though. 🙂

  5. Kristina
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 21:05:41

    My ‘old people’ live on in my head with all the wonderful memories of them. Thinking today especially of my great uncle Louis, who was laid to rest today in a tiny town in North Dakota near his parents and several siblings.

  6. Mimi
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 17:56:32

    Tee hee.

  7. jcurmudge
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 16:51:09

    We grew up in a large single family home on a major avenue. No relatives close by, but could walk the few blocks of Granny Petit’s – and Grandpa. The other grandparents were aways off. Nobody drank, at least not that I knew of, but I suspect a couple of Uncles might have had a drink or two at times. Granny told me once that Grandpa stopped to have a beer on the way home to “help his kidneys”. We walked to grade school 3-4 blocks away in fair weather and foul. Very few of our friends had cars, and we didn’t. Dad would say things like; “I can afford to buy a car, but I can’t afford the upkeep.” I remember walking the half mile or so to Church with Mother.

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