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Monday, June 15, 2009

Nana (pronounced NAH-na)

Nana, our maternal grandmother, lived on Monroe Street the earliest I remember, in a long narrow Victorian house that was split into an upper and lower duplex. The upstairs apartment was occupied by a burly cheerful nurse who had auburn hair (or maybe I am making that up). The house was painted blue grey with white trim and was on a corner.

Auntie Ed lived on that same street, but in her own house. She had never married. On Sundays she and Nana would come to our house for Sunday dinner sometimes.

Nana loved sugar ... she even sugared her "orange drink", a concoction that was delivered by the milkman, manufactured from orange juice, water and sugar. It was delicious, but not nearly sweet enough for Nana, apparently. She would sugar her apple pie! She also loved her mashed potatoes.

After that Monroe duplex, I believe Nana moved into an apartment over near Astor Park, in a dim place I barely recall. She had a different exchange from us! She went from having a HEmlock number to having an EDison number (oh what an exotic exchange!). After that, she moved to a very large square (and very unattractive) house on Monroe, but closer to our house.

Finally she moved to Jackson Street, just a block away from our house. Once again, she was in a narrow tall Victorian, white this time. She grew tomatoes along the picket fence. She had her Mogen David and Maryknoll magazines on her round table, and a portrait of some unidentified woman on the wall, who looked vaguely like Aunt Lou-Lou.

Although with us she was very gentle and kind, Nana was a force to be reckoned with. I heard the stories of how she never spoke to this one or that one, ever since they ....

She was round and soft, like a potato roll, with twinkling blue eyes. Her hair had been very long, and she wore it in a coronet of braid around the crown of her head. Then some year or other, she had it cut off and wore her hair in a soft white halo around her head. She wore silk dresses that all blur into one in my memory, mid-calf length, belted loosely, with those old lady shoes ... Enna Jetticks, I think they were called, black laced-up oxfords with thick high heels. When she sat she crossed her ankles, and we could see how swollen they always were.

At our house she would request a "Pink Lady", which was a pretty soft pink drink with gin in it.

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