…and guess what song I am?
I’ll give you the answer at the end of this post. Gotta wait for it…
We lived on a leafy street. Well, maybe it wasn’t exactly leafy. We had palm trees interspersed with regular trees and at the end of the street, there was a mini-grove filled with rows and rows of orange trees There they were, right in the middle of Los Angeles. I don’t know why this comes to mind right now, because I really just wanted to tell you what Halloween was like when I was a little girl.
We had a “Gang of Three” on the block. First, there was Susan (Susie the Big Poozie). Susan’s mother’s claim to fame was that she ironed wearing high heels! What kind of woman did that? Scandalous!
Next was Martha, (Marti the Big Parti), and then there was me, Sandy. Somehow I never got a nickname. We were just silly kids making up names, silly names.
Our mothers would get together, gossip and gab over coffee and home-made baked goods. Martha’s mom, Mrs. Monroe, made the most divine coconut cake. Mostly, she made it for a gentleman caller who visited her a few times a week for years. We were never to interrupt when he visited because he was an “important man in the city.” Years later, they married and my dear Marti moved to a huge home in Beverly Hills. Our friendship was never the same after that.
Mother was a great baker, who did it the old-fashioned way, using a jar for measuring ingredients and following recipes from the old country. She made strudel, light and crisp as air, like you have never eaten before or ever will. She spent hours, sitting at the kitchen table cracking walnuts for the filling. Then after making the dough, she removed her rings so they would not tear the dough, as she rolled and stretched it carefully across the entire large kitchen table. She used the backs of her hands to pull the dough until it was so thin, so translucent, you could see her hands through it.
For years after her death, I kept one piece of her strudel in my freezer. I’d forgotten about it until now. I knew I would never taste anything like her strudel again, or be with my mother again, and I couldn’t bear to part with either. My most cherished possession of hers? My mother’s old wooden cooking spoon. I use it every day. My goodness, I get tears in my eyes as I write this. I did finally eat the strudel. I brewed a pot of tea, sat down, and ceremoniously and appreciatively, ate the last, most glorious piece of strudel in the world.
Mom and her friend, Mrs. Monroe could do anything. Bake, sew, knit— they were like Lucy and Ethel, diving into all sorts of projects. I remember the year they bought lugs of peaches, filling the kitchen with canning goods, boxes, jars, tops, and rubber rings. The peach perfume wafted throughout the house for days.
But the best thing Mrs. Monroe ever did was to surprise the “Gang of Three” by making all of our costumes for Halloween. We thought they were the best costumes in the whole wide world. They were made of velvet, mine was dark green, with gold braid trim around the full long skirt and sleeveless vest. She also made small caps with chiffon that draped across our faces. We had become a trio of Arabian Princesses, like pint-sized Scheherazades straight out of “1001 Nights”. I was so proud parading around the school yard with the other kids to the sounds of “Hooray for the Red, White and Blue” blaring over the loud speaker. Then, we would all line up for our once a year treat of cotton candy! Whenever I see cotton candy these days, it always takes me back to Halloween, marching around the school yard and green velvet.
Of course, in the evening we would run around the block visiting all the homes, yelling, “Trick or Treat?” and then politely saying, “Thank you!” We were always given full-sized candy: Chocolate Bars, Juicy Fruit, Jujubes, Good & Plenty, and Sugar Daddy Lollypops. Thank goodness, never anything healthy. My favorite was a Milky Way bar, but I also liked Hershey Bars as long as they didn’t have almonds. I’d even share some of the treats with my sisters, but not too many.
I loved that Halloween and feeling like a real life princess.
Did you guess the song title?
My Funny Valentine!