Monday 13 February 2012

Yoo-Hoo Slot

Sometimes when I was delivering mail, I had to get a signature for a parcel or letter and as soon as the people answered the door a particular smell would hit me and I was taken back in time. Sometimes it would smell just like the house next door to our place when I was growing up. We moved in to the house when I was three and luckily there were kids our age next door. Mike was my age and John was my brother’s age and Jim was the oldest and pretty much ignored us. We stayed friends all through school and we still keep in touch from time to time. Sometimes, I would knock on the door of a house and an old Chinese gentleman would answer the door. Strangely enough, his house smelled like my dog just after he had been licking himself. I don’t know why and I don’t want to know why.

My favourite smell was always and will always be the smell of my grandmother’s house. It smelled of paint, turpentine and old wooden furniture. Whenever I venture into an antique store I think of my gram. Some of the thoughts are about the good times I had at her place through out the years. Whenever we went to visit, my brother and I would run up to the door, open the mail slot and call out “Yoo-hoo” over and over until she answered the door. It was pretty cool as a kid to have a special “Yoo-hoo” slot to talk through instead of one of those common place doorbells. I would imagine that having two kids screaming “Yoo-hoo” into the mail slot would have driven her to distraction. I have contemplated putting in a “Yoo-hoo” slot in our door, but I am not sure how I would go about it.

Once we got into her house, there was always a package of Chicklets in the top left hand drawer of her china cabinet. I can remember being too small for my hand to even reach the drawer. That was one of the few times in my life that having a big brother was beneficial. When she passed away, I was happy to receive that china cabinet and there isn’t a time that I walk by it when I don’t think of her and the Chicklets. You know, it still has that smell.

Grams house was one of those old downtown Toronto brick two story houses that had a sunroom off of the dining room and another off of the master bedroom. Both were freezing cold in the winter and unbearably hot in the summer. I can still picture gram reading to us in the sun room. When there was a family dinner, the cousins would sit at a couple of card tables in the sun room and we would laugh and argue and quite possibly brag about whatever kids brag about. I remember thinking how great it would be to be as old as my cousin Vicki and be able to sit with the adults and be included in their conversations. I never got the chance, because family dinners kind of petered out before I was old enough or perhaps we just ran out of cousins, uncles and aunts which made room at the big table. You know, I would give anything I own to be sitting at that card table and able to watch mom, dad and gram talking and arguing about whatever it was that they would argue about.

Gram had this very scary, very cool basement. She had an old coal burning furnace that had been converted to oil which had octopus like pipes running in every direction. The pipes were so low that it was hard for my dad to move around down there, but not very hard for us kids at all. The best part of the basement was the coal room. The room had long since been empty of coal, but gram had cemented all of the cousin’s initials on the floor using marbles. When we went into the coal room, we would all sit on our initial and would play cards or just sit and talk while the parents did the same upstairs. In later years, I also noticed that the cement blocks on the basement walls had been painted so often that you couldn’t feel where the blocks were joined. That was probably why the house always smelled of paint.

I think I will take a trip down to an antique store tomorrow, just to smell the place.

1 comment: