Posts Tagged ‘fruitdale’

I remember sitting on these back steps eating praline candy my grandmother made from pecans I had picked up off the ground. I ate so much I got deathly sick and have never liked praline candy since. -- Photo by Pat Bean

“The richness of life lies in memories we have forgotten.” — Cesare Pavese


When I was three years old, my grandfather died. My father took it as an invitation to move our family of three into my grandmother’s house. We stayed there for eight years, moving only after my grandmother died.

Those years weren’t a happy time in my life. My mother and grandmother did not get along; and my father was a good-timing Charlie who left the house early, came home late and almost always gambled his paycheck away.

My life was squeezed between the petty bickering of my mother and grandmother, and my mother’s shrill voice berating my father when he was home. My dad never fought back, and because of this I erroneously considered him the hero and my mother the villain of the family.

Into this chaos came two younger brothers demanding my mother’s attention, and making me feel even more unwanted and unloved. It was with great glee when I could put this past behind me, although of course, as we humans so often do, I created another kind of chaos for my own children.

Mostly dead now, this large tree in the neighbor's yard was an ideal one for climbing, and I spent many an hour nestled among its branches. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I’m not sure why, but this time when I was visiting Dallas, I had a deep-seated urge to find the home of my youth, the one in which my grandmother taught me how to cook, the one where my mother sewed me a beautiful blue flowered dress from a flower sack, the one where I had a faithful canine companion named Blackie, and the one that had a large swing set in the backyard on which I played circus trapeze artist.

My oldest daughter drove, and together we found my grandmother’s house, where it still languishes, dilapidated and condemned, in the small Dallas suburb of Fruitdale.

Of course there are differences. There is no lush gardenia bush, whose fragrance still haunts me, beside the front door. Two houses now sit where my mother had attended a large vegetable garden. And houses now stood in the large cornfield across the street, from which I remember my dad sneaking into at night to bring home a few ears for supper.

I suddenly remembered how we all laughed, even my mother, as we ate old Miss Hallie’s corn slathered with homemade butter. Strange, I thought, what a difference 50 years had made in the memories that now seemed important.

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