Grandma had an assortment of colorful neighbors over the years…There were neighbors who borrowed fried chicken. Neighbors with unusual names. Neighbors whose dogs brought her Fenton glassware and other collectible offerings.

One young neighbor boy ran into her kitchen and hid under the stove (the stove was up on legs back then). He had seen a blimp in the sky, didn’t know what it was. He thought it was a whale or fish coming to eat him.

An elderly Italian woman wanted to summon the police. Not knowing how to use the phone, and knowing the telephone lines were attached to the poles, she ran out and knocked on the pole, calling “Police, Police.’

Grandma’s next door neighbor routinely came to borrow ice, which made Grandma wonder if the poor girl knew how to make it.

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Grandma was the best cook. I have not eaten pork chops anywhere that are as good as I remember hers. And don’t get me started about the gravy. She planned six (yes, you read that number right) pork chops per person when she cooked.

Grandma wore glasses. It didn’t matter if they were hers. If they were handy, she put them on. She would complain, sometimes, that her eyes weren’t very good that day. Those would be the days she was baking; her glasses were covered with flour and it never occurred to her to clean them.

She baked and cooked a lot; if she wasn’t sitting on the couch, she was standing at the stove. If you fussed over something she made, pecan pie for example, she would make it every time you came. I cannot eat pecan pie to this day, because I ate so much of it a kid. I remember warning my friends to compliment the cooking, but not to go overboard – unless they were willing to eat that same food at every visit forever.

She knew she was a good cook and she would often tell stories about how her cooking was better than a neighbor’s, relative’s or other acquaintance’s. One story involved a cherry pie – the baker bragged and bragged about her cherry pies, but didn’t remove the pits. Grandma was incredulous.

At restaurants, Grandma routinely said, “Mine are better.” And she was right!

Her recipes, when they were written down, were not really helpful. “Bake until done” is not a real instruction! A bit, a pinch, a handful – really!

Her grocery lists were not helpful either! Triangles were her shorthand for chicken breasts. Circles were donuts. Or dog treats…and there were some other hieroglyphics that you just had to guess.

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