If I remember correctly, it was the Spring Break of my third grade year. Spring break for us Washington girls always coincided with Easter. My maternal Grandparents were building their retirement home at Point Whitehorn, WA. That is the very tip top point of Washington state. My family still lives there today. The frame of the house was built. There was a very large (now I know, very fancy schmancy) trailer my Grandparents would “live” in on the weekends to oversee the building. The Easter bunny did indeed find us at this new local. There were eggs to find, we each got huge Easter baskets and one evening our Grandpa gave each of us girls a flash light to go “find” one more surprise hidden in the new house. We each found a brand new hula hoop! Yeah, I still love hula hooping today. Makes me happy to stand in the sunshine on the deck and hula hoop away.
It was the one and only year (I have photograph proof) that we did not have to wear frilly fluffy Easter dresses with new hats, gloves, purses, shoes, and undergarments. We each got to have pastel plaid peddle pusher PANTS!!! With matching solid shirts and new white sneakers. Did you read that last sentence? Okay, go back and re-read, I will wait for you, it is that important…. PANTS!
Some years Easter would be at the end of Spring break. As my grandmother drove and my mother sat in the front seat, I remember sitting in the back seat with my two sisters driving to a farm. They would buy a flat or two of “peewee” eggs. Those somehow would end up cooked and colored in our baskets and hidden. We did not have
hand held anything to “play” with in the “olden” days. During the drive, I would fog up my window (of course I got a window seat, because I was the oldest, rules man, rules) and draw flowers and boats and trees and “erase” the window and fog it up and start again. My Grandmother and mother would end up talking for 20 or 30 minutes with the farm lady. Us girls would not go out of their sight, but always, always played with a big dog. We petted the dog and kissed the dog and laughed and hugged and kissed the dog some more. All three of us knew that my mother would not stop her visit to tell us not to kiss the dog in the face. I think she was happy that we were occupied.
My Grandparents along with eleven other families had built homes that were summer homes that would eventually evolve into permanent homes when they retired. My sisters and I always got to have our bikes with us. We were allowed to ride down “the” street and back. Now, years later I know that all the families knew we were coming for a visit and were prepared with cookies and milk for us. Only one other family, the Dews, had grandchildren, three girls our age at that! Every couple of years Canadian schools would have break at the same time and they would be visiting, too. Otherwise, us three girls were the only children. We would look for wild bunnies in the fields and people yards. We were allowed to ride our bikes in the paved circle driveways and knock politely to say hello. As I type this, I am thinking we never gave a thought to sneaking behind their gates. We would always, always call out for their dogs. We loved visiting with the big dogs. We always had poodles and cocker spaniels, so big dogs were great. We were not allowed to go to the front of their homes that faced the water. That was not proper. We could go up to the formal front door and ring the bell to say hello. They would always invite us in. We had to take our shoes off by the front door. Everyone of those people would greet us warmly and let us look at pieces of art, TOUCH pieces of fancy glass, show us rocks or shells that had recently found on the beach, ask us about school, always let us look through their telescopes and tell us about any whales they had seen and offer us cookies. We were allowed to take one. My mother would somehow know if we took more than that. That was just understood. Mr. & Mrs. McMillian, had a great big dog and always were so nice to us. They remembered us and called us by name. Dr. and Ma’am (retired veterinarian & wife) that is what we called them, their last name was too hard for us they said. They always had quite a few dogs and one huge Rhodesian Ridge back. Always so gentle and happy to see us. A bird in a cage, they even had a pet bird! They had lots and lots of art and would answer every single one of our questions and never be frustrated. Mr.& Mrs. McGuffin and Grandmother McGuffin lived next door. They were the kindest of all the neighbors. The ladies always wore dresses. They never wore make up or jewelry. They did not go to church. Imagine that? They had “prayer meetings” once a week and people came to their home every Saturday. Mrs. McGuffin told us what a prayer meeting was and explained that it wasn’t spooky, just church in their home. Their home was spotless. The wood floors gleamed. They did not have a lot of pictures or knic knacks, but a huge wall of windows that looked out at the water. They didn’t even have a television. They had a huge garden and always had homemade goodies for us. We always used our best manners when we went “calling”. On the shelf that followed along the window was the latest, greatest shell or rock found recently on the beach. Always a basket of sea glass for us to look through.
Come to find out, those twelve homes had a twelve party telephone line. So yep, they knew when the three grandchildren were coming to visit. One year Easter must have been early, as it snowed and we had to stay for three extra days. One year, my sisters and I got the chicken pox and could not go bike riding. One year the Easter bunny left us baskets made out of feathers! The morning after Easter our dogs had gotten to them and ripped them apart and there were feathers everywhere. I remember being sad, but we couldn’t stop laughing.
I honestly like looking back and realizing that I, nor did my sisters know that all of those people had money. I had no idea that those homes were special and cost lots and lots of money. We did not know those pictues or vases were “art”. We just thought those nice people were sharing and showing us their things.
I want to be that kind of neighbor or Grandparent. I want to welcome kids into our home and teach them to be kind and gracious, just by how I act. I want our sweet grandgirlie to learn good manners, by being treated with good manners. I want her to grow up with really good, safe, lovely memories.
This Easter will be her first. I am guessing that she might not remember this one. However, she will be treated with kindness and grace. I hope every year all of our grandchildren will get to spend Spring Break with us. I want to surprise them with colored eggs and let them touch and see beautiful art. Most of all I want to hula hoop with them and laugh and laugh and laugh. Oh, and eat cookies, lots and lots of cookies.