I loved my grandmother. Deeply. Both grandmothers, actually, but my Bayonne Bubby, my father’s mother, passed away when I was 10. My mother’s mother, Nanny, made it all the way to my wedding, walking down the aisle in front of me, beaming in her baby pink 2-piece suit. Nanny’s the one I’m talking about today.
Nanny and Pop lived downstairs from us, in the Victorian house that Pop bought back in the 1940’s. Lots of people in
lived with extended families in the era when I grew up, the 50’s, when people were coming to this country in droves. (But Nan & Pop were born in the Jersey City , a little after 1900). What I thought was wonderful—having Nanny and Pop downstairs to dote on me—was a burden for my parent’s autonomy. I could go down the stairs to watch tv with them. I especially loved watching The Ed Sullivan Show on Sunday nights and yes, I easily remember watching the Beatles on their first performance on that show in 1964. When Pop wanted to watch Gunsmoke or Perry Mason, I would go back upstairs to play with my Barbie dolls. U.S.
My mother and father were average build. My brother was skinny and truly didn’t like to eat. I was way too interested in food and mealtime. Pop was a big man and loved to eat, never, ever leaving a morsel of food on his plate. He could eat a big dinner, then a bowl of ice cream for dessert. And then the ubiquitous swiss cheese on toast later on. He was fed by my grandmother and everyone else. I was the chubby kid who had to sneak food. No one wanted me to eat too much and I didn’t understand why at that time. I became an expert at opening the cookie jar without making a sound. Finding candy and chips downstairs and being allowed to eat it, when my mother didn’t have these things in the house. Once eating a second dinner with Nan & Pop and promptly throwing up. I was so embarrassed hearing my mother on the phone with Nanny downstairs who told mom that I ate dinner downstairs and never told them I ate earlier. Ugh.
And my grandmother used to call me her "little tub of butter." At the time, I found it endearing. It's now that I think of the Breakstone "tub" of whipped butter, squat and round. But I know Nan meant it as a special title for just for me. It was just her way to express her love to me.