Friday, September 15, 2006

Visiting Miss Holmes in the late 1960's

I still remember her living room. It was small and had a small couch and a chair. As a boy I used to go over a visit this fascinating old lady.

I was very young and just trying to learn everything I could about history and our past. I was very fascinated with the late Victorian age and early 20th century. This was home turf for Miss Holmes as she had been born in 1879!

She was around the age of 89 to 90 when I paid most of my visits. This all took place in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida which is where I lived at the time.

Miss Holmes lived right down the street from us. So I would often drop by and spend some time with her talking about many subjects. But I wanted her to just talk as I was a sponge and soaked up all that she was telling me.

But what was really great, she had a an air conditioner! Not too many people had them in Florida in those days as they were expensive. So I was ever so happy to learn of the past and keep myself cool in her little trailer in which she lived.

She would be amazed by how much I could carry in my pockets. I would have plastic soldiers, trucks, and god knows what else. She would get me a glass of iced tea and tell me stories of her youth.

I would sail back in time as she recalled her memories. She would go on about the Spanish American War and how all the girls would think Teddy was great! So dashing and bold. Of course women could not vote in those days she would add with a dentured smile.

She said her whole family went to Grant's tomb to watch the arrival of Dewey's fleet as it sailed up the Hudson river. Firing off salutes...It was an all day spectacular she said. She said everyone was there from the the President to me.

She lived in New York and Long Island in the 1890's and early 20th century. She said it was so lively there, Vaudeville, minstrel's, Broadway shows and automobiles!

She told me her family always had a carriage and traveled that way. Finally in 1910 she said they got a Model T Ford.

Now it was rough to drive she would say and also you could not go up a hill with a half tank of gas. I was amazed by that and asked why? She said it was because the gas tank was a gravity feed and if you went up a hill the gas would slosh to the back of the tank. So how did you get up a hill I asked? She replied By going up the hill backwards!! I always remembered that exchange.

She was quite a smart lady and had done some interesting things. She had worked in Washington DC from 1912 till 1920. She got to see a lot of the public figures and Presidents. She told me that William Howard Taft was huge! She called him a walking beach ball!!
She said she saw Wilson many times..But the last time she saw him he walked with a limp and used a cane. She said she saw something on his shoe. Like someone who had a club foot. (Of course in 1919 Wilson had a stroke which made more sense to her story when I learned that a few years later)

She said when she would go shopping at grocery stores you would bring your own boxes to put the groceries in. It would usually cost around $5.00 and it would fill 3 boxes!!

I tried to ask as many questions as I could on what I knew at the time.
I was so very young at the time I wish I had asked other questions or was smart enough to have thought of other things.
I was only 10-11 years old so I did the best I could to study with her. I knew she was living history and I tried to learn as much as I could.

Now nearly 40 years later I have finally written about her. I was thinking and trying to remember bits and pieces of information that came to mind. It is amazing what we can remember after we think about things for a while.

I can still see her room and her...and the very 1960's plastic green cups that she served iced tea in. Her trailer was white and she died in it in January 1970.

Thank you for the friendship Miss Holmes...Boy I wish I could talk to you today.............I would have a week of questions!!!!

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