Thursday, July 31, 2014

The 50th Wedding Anniversary

Well this story is a little fuzzy because my dear cousin Vanessa took it as a personal challenge to get a record number of Slow Comfortable Screw cocktail's down my throat, but here is how I remember it.

Let's start with the backstory.  My grandfather had health problems.  I don't know them all, but I know he had half a lung missing and had open heart surgery way before the time that open heart surgery was readily available.   When it came time for the 40th Wedding Anniversary nobody knew how much longer he would be around so we had a big anniversary party for all the friends and family.  By the time the 50th rolled around he didn't want to have a big fuss so we decided to just go out for a nice family dinner.  My family was in Tennessee by then.  I was a Sophomore at the University of Tennessee (GO VOLS!!!!)  We drove up to Lorain for a long weekend of festivities.  We went to White Oaks Restaurant in Westlake.  Very nice restaurant. They never saw us coming.  Let me preface this with my family is generally very well mannered in public.   We all go to nice restaurants often.  We know which fork to use.  We are not the Clampetts.  We probably appeared to the staff to be a nice quiet family out to celebrate a milestone anniversary with the sweet little old couple.   But then Grandpa ordered a  scotch.   I don't remember my grandfather really ever drinking that much.  I had heard that he was the life of the party in his younger days, but I think he kind of went cold turkey when his major health problems started.  Anyway, Grandpa ordered his scotch so we all thought "when in Rome".  The drinks started flowing.  Dinner was served and was great.  The drinks started flowing again.  The jokes started flying.  It is really hard to determine which butter is the open one when they are in little pats on little plates all over the table.  We were having a ball.  We were getting a few looks from people around the restaurant.  We weren't overly obnoxious, but everybody knew we were celebrating something.  Dessert was fabulous and with dessert comes cocktails.  Then it happened.  Jason says- wow Grandpa you are really throwing them back tonight.  Grandpa gives out a woo hoo!  Jason says - Grandpa's gonna have Grandma on her head tonight.  I confusedly look at Jason and say what does that mean.  Grandpa yells out- When you get to be my age you can't get it up anymore so you just turn them over on their their head and plop it in!  Dad promptly says- Check Please!!!!!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

How not to get syphilis

When Graham and I were kids we would go and spend weeks at a time at my Grandparents in the summer.  Never together because we fought so much, but I would go for a week and then Graham would go for a week.  Graham usually ended up staying longer.  I think because my mom was enjoying the quiet so much.  (Calm down Graham I am not saying it was because you weren't there but because we weren't at home together. I have experienced the constant bickering children apart experience this summer and let me tell you - it is wonderful.  I highly recommend it for one's sanity and decreasing one's wine intake).  I also think that Grandma liked having Graham around because it gave Grandpa something to do.  The man could never sit still and had been known to drive to Value City in Elyria three times in one week to see if they had any good deals on coats.  If Graham wasn't there Grandma had a good chance of missing General Hospital and this was before VCR's so you can imagine how tragic it was when she missed, especially on a Friday.

So anyway, one time Graham gets home for who knows how long at Grandma and Grandpa's and he starts talking about  what they did while he was up there. (mind you Graham was not even 13 at this time) He then asks Mom, what is syphilis? My mom says where did you hear about syphilis?  Graham says Grandpa and I went to see the Untouchables and I asked Grandpa how Al Capone died.  He told me he died of syphilis.  I asked him what syphilis was and he told me that I didn't have to worry about it if I would keep my GD pecker in my pants.

You know- he was right.  He was right about a lot of things even if the way that he taught us was a little unconventional.  

Picture taken of Graham Little at Mill Hollow by Bill Little.  Browns Jacket and Hat- $35 from Sears.  Moon boots and rainbow gloves-$25 from Value City.  Spending time with your Grandpa- Priceless

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

What we ate

It was no secret that my grandmother did not like to cook.  My dad used to joke that they were the test kitchen for Stouffer's. I remember stopping at the grocery store on the way to visit so we would have milk for our Raisin Bran or Shredded Wheat for breakfast. My grandparents only kept Coffee Rich and swore it tasted just as good as milk. No matter how hard I tried I couldn't bring myself to like it.  I still gag when I think of the smell of it.  The kitchen was a little galley that the range pulled out when you wanted to use it.  The oven was used at a bread storage bin and was only used on special occasions.  The food got a little better when Grandpa retired.  He would try new recipes.  Jeweled Chicken was one, I think it had rice onions and pimentos in it.  Most of the time it went back to the old standbys though.  Unless my mom stepped in we always had instant mashed potatoes. My brother and I would call instant potatoes "Grandma Little potatoes". To this day I get nostalgic when I eat instant potatoes.   Having a no-cook Grandma had it's advantages.  She always had the best snacks.  Goldfish crackers, the orange ball cheese puffs that came in the can, those little sugar wafer cookies and Dr. Pepper.  In the winter the garage doubled as an extra refrigerator and that is where the pop was kept.  Dr. Pepper in the glass bottle.  Ahhhhhh.  Grandpa always had gum. Double mint or Juicy Fruit. But the best part was the popcorn.  Grandpa had an air popper and would pop a ton of popcorn. He would squeeze Parkay all over it as it was coming out of the popper and put garlic salt on it.  No vampires would dare come near us.  We would sit in the family room watching tv.  The best part was when Grandma would fall asleep on her love seat with her mouth open.  She would be snoring and it would drive Grandpa crazy so he would throw popcorn at her and try and get it in her open mouth.  When he would succeed she would choke and startle herself awake.  She'd say a few choice words and eventually fall back asleep.  Us kids would fight over who got the bear pillow and who got the lion pillow and we would watch 60 Minutes and hope it was a night that Andy Rooney came on.

It's funny, today there are all these cooking shows on tv and everybody takes pictures of their gourmet meals.  We may not have the gourmet meals but we had the family fellowship and have such great memories.  I wouldn't trade that for anything.

Monday, July 28, 2014

How it all began...

When most kids ask their grandparents how they met they get a lovely story of childhood sweethearts or love at first sight.  Not us Little's. I don't think we ever really got the real story (about most things), but what we were told was always interesting.  I got two different stories.  Grandma says it went something like this.  She had a date with a young man and while they were out they ran into this boy's friend Bill.  She thought he was a snazzy dresser and he had a nice car so when he called to ask her out she ditched the first boy and started going with Grandpa.  In my Grandmother Remembers book that she completed for me  she says when they were dating they liked to go dancing, skating or necking.  They would go to Lakeview Park in Lorain and watch for submarines. (No there were not really submarines in Lake Erie). She says in the book that Grandpa said he liked her because she was a good girl and a terrific lover ( Ok. Ewwwww).

Now for Grandpa's side of the story.  He said that one morning he woke up with the most god-awful headache and didn't know where he was. He rolled over and poked the girl next to him and said "who the hell are you?"  She said "I'm Maddie Kohart, who the hell are you?"  He then said, "I'm Bill Little and you are just my size". The rest is history.

I suspect there is a little bit of truth in both the stories.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

How I know my Grandfather's shoe size

I have all sorts of useless information floating around in my head. Who knows why I know my phone number from when I was 10,  but I still have to look up my son's phone number.  I do however know why I know that my grandfather wore a size 10-1/2 shoe. My grandfather could never be accused of not telling it to you straight. He spoke in a certain dialect that I have heard called "the King's English".  We grew up hearing words and stories  most kids didn't hear until they snuck into R movies. (No PG-13 in those days).   Grandpa's favorite word was GD.  Grandma had a hard time deciding if she liked S**T or A*****E better. Probably depended on the situation.  If Lou Holtz was in the conversation it was most likely Son of a B***H.  I always tell people it isn't really my fault that I cuss like a sailor.  It is in my blood.  So, how do I know Grandpa's shoe size?  Whenever one of us kids wasn't doing what we were supposed to he would say in his gruffest Grandpa Little voice " Get a move on unless you want a size 10-1/2 boot up your ass".

Friday, July 25, 2014

Pass the open butter

Why am I doing this blog?  I love our family stories. Most people did not have the pleasure of  growing up with Bill and Maddie Little as grandparents. I remember as kids hearing other kids talk about their grandmother knit and bake cookies.  Mine was drinking scotch and racing Corvettes.  These stories are how I remember them. They might not be the way my brother or my cousins remember. I am certain that my parents don't remember them this way, but these are my memories and I like them just the way they are.  When you are a kid you don't have the backstory. You don't know that some of your relatives are assholes or idiots.  You don't know that certain relatives don't speak to each other because of some petty thing that happened years ago.  You just think that is normal and go with it.  My intention with this memoir is to put these memories down so I don't forget them and so hopefully my kids will enjoy them.  Everything that I say is in love and if someone comes to me and asks me to take something down I will.  I don't want anyone's feelings to be hurt.  I love every person who is named in this blog and I am only writing for entertainment.  So why the name of the blog?  Let the stories begin...

So it was a typical family dinner.  Not a special occasion. I don't even remember what we had but I am sure it was one of Grandma's 5 meals- 1. Spaghetti 2. Meat pie. 3. Grandma Little Chicken. 4. Roast Beef and Kielbasa ( special nights) 5. Bean Soup with more peppercorns than most people see in an entire year.  Anyway one of us kids asked somebody to pass the butter. It was actually Fleichsman's butter substitute but anyway...  Somebody picked it up and started to pass it.  Grandpa Little jumped out of his seat and yelled not that butter, use the GD open butter.  We all stopped and were scared shitless.  It was a crime worse than murder. Using the new butter before the old butter was completely (and I mean down to the last drop) scrapped out.  Whoever committed the sin quickly found the open butter and passed it.  It only took a moment for somebody to then ask to have the open butter passed to them. We giggled and then it was game on. Open butter jokes all over the place.  Not sure what was funnier, the open butter jokes or the fact that Aunt Minnow never did get the joke. I remember her saying "O for crying out loud, what is so funny".   So, if you ever come to dinner with the Little's, for God's sake pass the open butter