A Long, Long Ride

From the beautiful minds of Lucy and Sam, I give you...

From the beautiful minds of Lucy and Sam, I give you…

My mom sent me some random emails and text messages this week to pass on some stories recounted by my Grandparents in a spontaneous fit of remembering. I was going to spin a Friday Flashback around them somehow, but it’s taking too long to concoct that and I want to get them archived on here before I forget/lose them in the mayhem that is iOS 7 on my phone. So, here goes…

[WITH DEEP, HEARTFELT, MUNGA-ESQUE EMOTION…]

When Grandpa Sam was little, he rode his bike all the way from his house on Labelle Street and Livernois to Mt. Olivet Cemetery because he wanted to see his dad’s grave, which was 5.5 miles! He doesn’t remember how long it took him to get there or what he did when he got there. Or how he got home. 

I’m not sure what “when he was little” qualifies as, but my grandfather was only five when his father died, so he might have indeed been really little! Having lost my own father young – but at least old enough to be in driver’s ed at the time – I fully respect his epic journey.

By the way, here’s a map of the neighborhood in Detroit on Labelle nearest Livernois, to Mt. Olivet Cemetery

Labelle_Livernois.png

Which is actually a little over 6 miles away, according to Google. AND ON THE EAST SIDE. Those of you not from Detroit have no idea what that means, but Grandpa Sam basically rode his bike to the other side of the world. And let’s not forget, this is the Motor City. Even in 1934, there were no bike lanes, people.

[RESUME DEEP, HEARTFELT, MUNGA-ESQUE EMOTION…]

Grandma Lucy never had a Christmas tree until she moved to the house on Quincy, near St. Gregory Parish in Detroit. She talked her dad into getting one, and they brought it home, but they did not have anything to put on it except some lights and some angel hair. They had no idea how to decorate a Christmas tree, but she thought it was beautiful!

I think Angel hair is this stuff (found it for sale at Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth, Michigan, of all places)? Seems like something that would be all the rage amongst the immigrant poor in America.

But anyway, I love this story because it reinforces the image I have of my grandmother as a strong-willed little girl who I like to think I took after… My sister and I cherish another story she told us years ago about demanding a real American birthday cake for her eighth birthday in Sicily, and her family (having never seen a birthday cake) obliged by baking her a loaf of bread and sticking a candle in it. She cried.

So thank you, Munga, for sharing your afternoon of remembrance with me.

Now – here’s why Munga rocks…

After reminiscing with the grandparents, she decided to then put them in the car (eek! the car…) and take them for a drive (you mean, out of the house? yes… OUT OF THE HOUSE), to see some of the places in their memories.

The house on Labelle, from which Grandpa Sam began his epic journey.

The house on Labelle, from which Grandpa Sam began his epic journey.

The final destination (then and now): my great-grandfather's tombstone in Mt. Olivet Cemetery.

The final destination (then and now): my great-grandfather’s tombstone in Mt. Olivet Cemetery.

Another house Grandpa Sam lived in and wanted to see while on their drive. In the summertime, they slept on the porch to keep cool and apparently the landlord was not too fond of the arrangement. My Great-Great-Grandma Rosa protected Grandpa Sam and his widowed mother by threatening to push the landlord off if he came on the porch.

Another house Grandpa Sam lived in and wanted to see while on their drive. In the summertime, they slept on the porch to keep cool and apparently the landlord was not too fond of the arrangement. My Great-Great-Grandma Rosa protected Grandpa Sam and his widowed mother by threatening to push the landlord off if he came on the porch.

Now, I don’t know if they’ll remember how long it took them to get there or what they did when they got there. Or how they got home. But I know Munga is glad they went.

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2 thoughts on “A Long, Long Ride

  1. Margaret Wisniewski says:

    I am laughing out loud as I read this. You have captured the memories and moment perfectly! Yes, it was an epic “field trip” with the grandparents. Grandpa drove (a little scary, but I chaperoned in the back seat), and did remarkably well, except for when he hit a pothole on Five Mile and almost wrecked the car. It is hard to be “poetic” in a text message, but you got the story right. In case you are interested, we finished the day at Burger King, our favorite road restaurant, where I totally screwed up the ketchup machine and the drink machine. Even that stuff is digital now. Geez. As for iOS7, well that screwed me up too. I was actually off line for five hours on Sunday and panicking through every minute of it. But, I digress. Yes, you are exactly like your Grandma Lucy. Stubborn, headstrong, smart, relentlessly energetic, a little girl who never took “no” for an answer. And look at her. At 90 years old everyone keeps telling her how great she looks, and she appears to be doing well. That will be you some day. BTW, grandpa could not remember how old he was when he took that bike ride, and he couldn’t remember if he stopped to rest along the way, only that he had to be home before it got dark. I am so glad to know that you appreciate the stories. We love you!

  2. lisatemp says:

    Burger King! I should have known. And also, I’m a little jealous…

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