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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The view from Grandma Rolf's driveway

After my grandpa died, Grandma Rolf lived in the house on W 21st street for several more years.  Probably until 1953.  I remember not going to school one day in the 5th grade, but going to Grandma’s house.  Uncle Hank was there, kids were shooed aside.  After that Grandma lived in an apartment. Over a Hough bakery, where she also worked.  I could draw a picture of the inside of that house.  Sometime I’ll write about all the magical places in the house.

But the outside of the house was just as wonderful.  Games like croquet were saved for our backyard in Akron, which was a city block long and superb for the game.  At Grandma Rolf’s we played on the drive way.  It started at Grandpa’s workshop and went all the way to the road.  That little something sticking up from the snow in front of the trash can on the left was a gasoline pump.  Clock parts were cleaned in gasoline.  Grandpa’s shop was in the garage.  I never was in the shop.  That’s a cherry tree in the yard in front of the garage.  Every year those cherries were picked, pitted and canned in my Grandma’s kitchen.

The driveway went all the way to the street.  There I am on a tricycle and my older brother, Walt, is just walking.  It must have been late 1946.

In 1947 my Uncle Hank came home from the Army.  I didn’t know it was 1947, or even that the tall man was my uncle.  But one day he and my dad took me for a walk.  Turn right there at the end of the drive.  It was just a couple of houses to the first cross street, and then a whole block to Valley Road.  I walked between them, holding their hands.  We turned right on Valley.  We went into a store.  We came out with a tricycle and I rode it home!  Here I am, riding it on the driveway.  Walt’s on the little tricycle.  And, Mom, Dad, a man I don’t know, and my Grandma Rolf.

Another thing about that driveway:  the milk man came up the drive with the milk.  Here are Mom and I at Grandma’s back door.  No idea whose car that is.  Not ours; it has four doors! Right over Mom’s shoulder is the milk door.  That’s where the milkman picked up the empties and left the milk.  Not just any milkman.

He drove a horse drawn milk wagon.

I found this milkman on the internet.  His truck has pneumatic tires, just like Grandma's milk man.  Most pictures I found were older and the wagons had wooden wheels.  Grandma's milk still came by horse, even when she left.
The milkman would take my brothers, Walt and Mel, in the wagon for a ride to the end of the street and deliver them back to Grandma on the way up the street.  I never went for a ride, and don’t remember ever wanting to.  My memory is not being allowed to cross the street unless Grandma Rolf watched, and waiting for the milk man’s wagon to move along so I could cross the street and play with some body’s granddaughter over there.
How vast it all was back then.  I’ve been back, but more than twenty years ago.  It was a small, tidy neighborhood in Cleveland’s Old Brooklyn neighborhood.

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