Granny Pearl
By: Christina J. Johns




RA File

When I was a child, whenever my parents started talking about going out of town, or even away for the day, I would beg to go to Granny Pearl's.

Granny Pearl, was very short, soft and comforting.  But most importantly for a mischievous child, she NEVER got mad at me, no matter WHAT outrage I perpetrated.

When I was dropped off at Granny Pearl's, she was always making pulled taffy.

I can still see her standing in the dining room talking to me while pulling out and smacking together the strands of taffy.  Then, we would make tea cakes in all kinds of shapes - stars, circles, triangles.  Granny Pearl would make tiny little sandwiches with three or four layers out of white bread and let me cut the ends off.

While the taffy and tea cakes were cooking, she would send me outside to pick figs in her back yard.

I wasn't supposed to do it, but every time I was sent to get the figs, I would crawl up under the shrubbery at the far end of the yard and look down at the back of what used to be Grand Daddy Arthur's funeral home. If I waited long enough, I might just see a hearse slowly driving in and a white-shrouded body being taken out of the back.  I have no earthly idea why this was so fascinating or why it was forbidden.

But, I knew if I stayed too long, Granny Pearl would start calling from the back door, worse still, she'd come looking for me, and she knew where to look.

I would watch as long as I could and then go back with the figs. Granny Pearl would pick two perfect figs, and stand them on end in two sherbet glasses.  Then, she would then pour some kind of sweet, clear liquid over the figs and put the glasses on a silver tray.

Then, it was time to dress.

I can't remember Granny Pearl wearing anything but house dresses, they were nice house dresses, thin cotton shirtwaist dresses with little flowers on them, but they were house dresses just the same, and every one of them had a belt made out of exactly the same material as the dress.

But, on the days I stayed with her, we would open her cedar chest and take out TREASURES.  Where Granny Pearl got these things, I don't know,
and where she wore them I don't know.

But, sitting on the floor, we would go through dozens and dozens of pairs of gloves, long gloves, short gloves, gloves that flared at the wrist, gloves with beading on them, with embroidery on them, with piping on them.  White gloves, ivory gloves, pale blue gloves, pink gloves and gloves in yellow, lilac, black, and navy blue.

We would match the gloves with shoes and shawls and mink stoles, and dozens of sets of earrings and pearls and rhinestone tiaras.  But, the crucial decision, and the one that was fussed over and discussed for the longest time, was the hat.  The hat had to be just right.  She had dozens of them  - a black hat with one long thin red feather sweeping back from the crown, a little mink hat that was almost like a headband, a large sun hat with flowing ribbons on it, and a dainty little Sunday school hat with tiny flowers on it.

 Granny Pearl would set up a card table in the back yard and cover it with a white starched tablecloth.  There were ironed cotton napkins, napkin rings, flowered plates, cups and saucers, a vase of freshly cut flowers, and our figs in crystal sherbet glasses.

Properly attired, Granny Pearl and I had proper afternoon tea in the garden. The two of us would float grandly down the back steps and out into the yard with a plate of taffy, a plate of tea cakes, and a glass pitcher of milk dyed whatever color Granny Pearl fancied that day - green, yellow, blue, crimson.

We drank milk and tea and ate tea cakes and figs and watercress sandwiches, while we discussed the world like ladies.  I loved it, and part of what was so much fun was that Granny Pearl enjoyed it every bit as much as I did.

Granny Pearl would be pleased to know that I now have dozens of pairs of gloves - gloves that flare at the wrist, gloves with piping, and I never go out of the house without a hat.

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