I was an only child and only children have greater imaginations than those who have brother and sisters. I always compared myself to the little girl in one of my favorite children’s books “Eloise” about a little girl who lived in the famous N.Y.C. hotel The Plaza. I also had an imagination as big as Eloise’s.
My favorite past time was serving tea to my stuffed animals. Perhaps at some time, I was British who knows. It was always the same – took all my animals and placed them on my mom’s round coffee table in the living room. Set the table with plastic cups and saucers and the party could begin. Everything went fine until mom discovered that I was pouring actual tea which she kept in a teapot in the kitchen and serving them real cookies. Mom informed me that a mess like this wasn’t needed in the living room and I could continue my tea parties but without tea and cookies. I still have this coffee table today amazingly enough.
There was something fascinating about the fact that mom always folded up clothes and took clothes out of the drawers. So being a housewife in training I figured I’d find out what all the excitement was about. Mom decided I had been quite long enough and came to take a look at what was going on. There I sat neck deep in clothes and pulling more out of the drawers. I soon found out that I shouldn’t do this.
Another interesting thing about clothes was that mom ironed them. Those were the old days when clothes were still ironed. So I stood there looking up at mom and she’d pick up the iron and press the clothes with it and so on. Being curious I wondered – was the ironing board hot as well? So I reached up on tip-toe to place one chubby finger on the board. Yeah, the board felt hot to the touch. It was also at this very moment that mom chose to put down the iron. Needless to say, it was on my finger which shouldn’t have been there. Having one such imaginative child my mom’s nerves stayed intact when I let out a howl. Having checked and fixed up my finger she asked, “Do you still want to check to see if the ironing board is hot?” I quickly found much better activities.
My mom and dad being immigrants from Latvia and having gone through the displace person’s camps in Germany had left friends and relatives behind in Latvia. One of them was my mom’s mother Emily. There were pictures with grandma and I was told who she was and where she was. However to my little mind those pictures were grandma. So when my mom got permission to bring my grandma to the states out from behind the Iron Curtain it was a big event. I was two at the time. My parents didn’t have a car but friends were going to bring them to the airport. They took me along. At the airport all I know is that they greeted some woman who returned home with us. They informed me that this was my grandma but grandma was a photo or was she? Grandma being from the Old World didn’t sit well with me. I was really cruel to her at the beginning and very naughty. Mom and dad went out for the evening and grandma got the pleasure of putting me to bed. Of course she put on the wrong nightgown, she didn’t read my favorite story – how could she? It was in English a language she didn’t speak.
I still remember the set up of our apartment and from where I stood in my crib I could see all across the living room to the bend in the hallway from which my parents would emerge when the returned home. Rotten me cried all night until they came. Poor grandma but God taught me a very important lesson. About a year later spooky me put poor grandma’s wool socks into the oven and turned it on. She got to them in time and I got it from my parents because touching the oven was a no-no. That night as I slept in my bed near my parents under no circumstances would I sleep in the other bedroom with my grandma I had an awful nightmare which has stayed with me to this very day. The apartment was dark and I had just stuffed grandma’s socks in the oven when the oven caught fire and as I ran crying for my grandma down the hall the fire was following me. I woke up screaming for my grandma. Afterward, we were inseparable and she was the one who saved me from countless spankings. However the joy of having this wonderful grandma was short lived not too long afterwards she died but at least God taught me to respect and love her.
I had discovered the joys of T.V. and the joys of my mother’s two huge club chairs which were so comfortable that I would curl up in them and watch cartoons. Unfortunately, I was growing and my legs were getting longer and longer. By the time my mom realized that I had poked holes in the fabric of the chairs to give my legs room it was too late for repair and she fixed up the least damaged chair and let me enjoy the other one.
Bedtime was always a problem, there was a church where we lived and every night at nine o’clock you could clearly hear the bells in the tower bonking the hour. It was bedtime. Since I hated it so much my dad suggested to mom that perhaps a short game of my favorite hide and seek would tire me out enough to get me to bed. So we started a new tradition mom and me. My dad being an editor at the Latvian newspaper “Laiks” or “Time” was always busily working even at night. It was the time before the computer age. Each night at 8:30 mom and I would begin a rousing game of hide and seek. Of course, I was the one who always hid because mom said she wouldn’t be able to fit behind anything. One night I found the perfect spot – in the bathroom wrapped up in the shower curtain. Needless to say, she couldn’t find me and I found this utterly amusing until I heard mom shouting to dad, “Look the windows open maybe she fell out!” Then I knew if I didn’t say anything I would be in for a spanking before bed and besides those darn bells started ringing. All’s well that ends well.
I could be an angel, a witch (especially at Halloween time), a nasty child, a loving child and a perfect little lady. I had very many talents and an imagination that knew no end.