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!