NYT Prompt 005: My Grandparents’ Houses

Prompt: What places do you remember fondly from childhood?

My fondest childhood memories have occurred mostly at home or at the residence of close family members and friends. As a result, there are far too many to name specifically and so I’ll simply touch on the ones that I hold dearest in my heart.

The first of these places is a ranch house built in 1979 that used to belong to my paternal grandparents. It was a spacious home built on the side of a steep hill – in fact, the basement was level with the lower side of the hill and sported garage doors which could be used to store farm equipment. It was this house that I spent most of my days at after I was kicked out of pre-school. I also recall spending many afternoons after school there with my grandparents. My grandma made me a snack every day: hard salami, Ritz crackers, Swiss cheese, and green olives. Sometimes, I would play in her vineyard. Once, I rode with my grandpa in his old brown Chevy to the back fence line and picked fresh blackberries, which I then helped grandma use to make cobbler. She let me put the fork holes in it.

We lived no more than a mile or two away, amongst densely wooded land. Our house was at the top of a hill that, were it nor for the trees, would have afforded us a grand view of the valley. Because of its location, when it would storm badly my parents would take us down to my grandparents as a precaution. This was before cell phones, so if we lost power and a tree fell down, we would be royally screwed.

Another of my favorite places from my childhood is the various homes of my maternal grandmother. There was a time when she used to live in a nice mobile home in one of the small towns nearby. Whenever I would stay the night, she would pull out the hideaway couch and we would watch TV together. Mostly, we watched shows like CHiPs and various crime documentaries. Every morning, she made me toast and gravy. Once, I choked on a piece of hard candy. Being a little young and small for the Heimlich manouver, she grabbed me by the ankles, flipped me upside down, and shook me over the sink until the piece of candy was dislodged from my throat. I recounted this memory to her recently, and it was great to see the way her face lit up. She didn’t know it was among my favorite memories.

Lastly, the many incarnations of my mother’s house are all special in their own way. Every place she has lived has played host to some pretty crazy things, from my dropping the cordless phone in the tub, to our discover, while living on a Christmas tree farm, that my cousin was allergic to Christmas trees. In hindsight, many of these incidents and the hilarity that ensued probably could have been avoided, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Thinking back on these memories has a way of making me smile.

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