COCKTAIL HOUR (or two)
I love my family, but we are so spread out we no longer get everyone together unless it is a sad occasion. I have a son in Massachusetts, a daughter, SIL and three grandchildren in North Carolina, a son, DIL and two grandchildren in Pennsylvania, and a son in California. My brother lives in Atlanta and my Sister (after 50 years I drop the in-law title) lives in North Carolina.
My mom and dad retired to Eastern Shore Maryland sometime after I graduated from college and though my brothers were spread out we did get together for most holidays up until dad passed away and after mom had to go into assisted living. As an adult, I have wonderful memories of these family get togethers with brothers, in-laws nieces and nephews.
My fondest memories as a child are of Five O’clock Cocktails at Grandpa’s.
My Grandfather was an affluent man. He owned and ran his own business. They processed oily rags for something called “Hot Boxes” on railroad cars, something used until at least the 1950’s. I never understood much more than that. Grandpa owned a house in the Philadelphia area, two houses and a vacant lot on the Jersey Shore and a small house in Florida. He owned a 32 foot boat and bought a new Cadillac every other year. The boat and the car were “Business expenses.” You could do liberal “Business expenses” in those days. They went in the books as “sundry.”
To many people in today’s world of class warfare, Grandpa might have been classified as a f*cking rich bastard. He was actually a very nice and rather generous man. He was generous with his time, his money and his love of life. He was a wealthy man. He should have been. He worked hard. He took over the business at 15 years old and successfully grew it. His business survived two world wars, several recessions and the great depression.
Of course growing up we thought Grandpa was comfortable, but not all that rich. Other neighbors had bigger homes, nicer boats and newer cars. Everything is relative to a child.
What I remember best about Grandpa and Grandma was five o’clock cocktails on the back deck of their summer house. The deck was on the flat roof of the garage and entrance was through the kitchen or back stairs.
|A recent picture of the deck. |
The lot is still vacant, it was used for parking and growing vegetables back in the day.
Cocktails were at five almost every Friday and Saturday night.
Grandpa’s house was three floors. My Uncle Jack, Aunt Sally and Cousins Johnny and Dex lived in the first floor apartment. Grandma and Grandpa lived on the second floor along with visiting Aunts and Uncles, and the third floor crammed in as many cousins as needed.
Uncle Tom and Aunt Louise owned a house across the street, and My Dad rented a floor in Grandpa’s second house for his two week summer vacation. This house was behind the main house to the left of the vacant lot and not shown in the picture.
On a good weekend there would be up to ten aunts and uncles along with Grandma and Grandpa plus a few friends on the back deck for five o’clock cocktails. Dinner was not until seven so there was a lot of drinking, smoking and booming laughter. The drinks were not wine spitzers in those days; they were highballs (whiskey on ice) or stingers (vodka on ice with a capful of Crème de menthe.)
Looking back this crew may have had a drinking problem. They claim to have been social drinkers only, but they were really social! Each of my relatives had a distinctive laugh. I could tell if the laughing was Grandpa, or Uncle Jack, Aunt Phil, or Aunt Nancy. Grandma would laugh and then invariably chastise Grandpa for an off-color remark with a tart "Oh Milton!" This was followed by more laughter.
As a child, I remember getting hungry because dinner was so late, but mostly I remember wishing I could get in on the fun on the deck.
I remember the laughter…there was so much laughter!