Thursday, 12 December 2013

Grandmother Liked Show Tunes and She Wasn't Even Gay

Soon after my grandfather died when I was 10 or 11 my grandmother began having me spend the night with her every Friday night. There was a time when I was young and foolish enough to think this was because she was giving me a treat. I now realize that I was her treat, company in a large house grown suddenly too quiet and too lonely. I would stay until Saturday afternoon when my cousin Elizabeth would come and spend Saturday night with Grandmother staying until late Sunday afternoon. Thus the two of us would fill my grandmother's weekend.

I have a lot of memories of this period and I will share them sometime but it deserves a blog post of its own (I wrote one once but it is now lost).

Fridays after school I would walk home with grandmother. She taught school in the same grammar school I attended. Grandmother would change and then we would walk over to the town across the footbridge that spanned the harbor. We would go to Porter's Drugstore where I would get a five cent fountain coke while grandmother did whatever it was she did there. We would go to the post office and then to the library. I would gather four or five books. The rule at Grandmother's was I could stay up as late as I wanted if I was reading and read I would. From the library we would go to dinner and then wander back across the footbridge to home.

Once home I would lose myself in my book and grandmother would sit sideways on the couch with her feet up in front of the snowy black and white television pulling in it's signal from Portland. Over fifty years ago. I still remember WGAN, WCSH.

Soon after Grandfather died my youngest uncle bought one of the first stereos, a table top version, which, him being unmarried, he placed in my grandmother's home, his home when he was on leave from the navy. He also bought dozens of records and brought dozens more home on every leave. Even at my young age I couldn't help notice this was a rather insipid collection of music for someone as cool as my uncle. Amongst the Perry Comeau and Nat King Cole albums was the sound track to every musical ever produced.

Of course I didn't realize until he married and left home and left the stereo behind that it was actually bought for my grandmother as was all the music.

The music of My Fair Lady and South Pacific and Oklahoma and The West Side Story and every other conceivable musical filled that quiet, old home with sound on the nights my cousin and I weren't there. All those years later and I still know the scores to all those old musicals as well. They are indelibly embedded in my mind.

Friday night though ....Friday nights were for my grandmother's real loves
Relaxed on the couch while I silently read Grandmother would spend Friday evening listening to an entire evening of music. First would be Sing Along with Mitch. Mitch would be followed my The Perry Comeau Show and after Perry came my grandmother's favorite, her secret love, Andy Williams. Grandmother loved Andy best of all and I knew that when Andy was on I had best not make a peep.

I thought of this the other night. I wandered upstairs to find father turning in to a PBS special on the best of Andy Williams Christmas shows featuring clips through the years of performances of Andy, his brothers, his family and his guests. Frankly, I was enthralled. I stood and watched for a few moments and then made to sit on the couch I was standing in front of.

Suddenly, sharply, father said, "Kenneth! Watch yourself. Don't sit on your grandmother."

I laughed a short laugh as a tear gathered in the corner of my eye. Truth be told a tear gathered in his as well.

I have often said I do not watch television and I do not. That was the first show I have seen in years but that night I watched that entire Andy Williams special sitting in the living room with my father and my grandmother who somehow was there also.

(Posted on Blogster November 19, 2013)

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