My Grandma Elisabeth

The house was tiny. The front room glassed in, a bench followed three sides where adults gathered around the table all day to talk, smoke and drink – they stayed for hours once they were wedged in. Outside the window was the pear tree with bottles hanging on the forming pears to be harvested in autumn for granddad’s special pear schnapps.

Walking through to the dark back room, the bed sofa stood up against the back wall where my grandparents would sleep when they stayed here on weekends and during summer. To the right a narrow kitchen corner and wood stove and a secret trapdoor under the carpet. Down there in the clammy dark granddad kept his “Bocks” beer cold – very strong stuff – alongside a few bottles of sweet malt beers for the grand kids or the alcoholic ingredients for his annual woodruff punch.

As kids we got to visit them often at this little house on their garden plot, it was only a short walk from home. Plum, cherry, peach, pear and apple trees; strawberries, gooseberries, tomatoes and roses – an abundance of colour and food right in the centre of the city.

The toilet was outside and behind the wood shed, next to the compost heap at the back of the little hut. A composting loo – a big dark bucket which got emptied once a year into the prepared tomato trench. I remember my visiting cousin losing his appetite for tomato sandwiches after I explained the secret of grandma’s delicious tomatoes to him…

In winter granddad was often out the back splitting logs, his shirt off and the axe going up and coming down on the big scarred stump, the pile of firewood growing to keep them warm through the night when we’d be back at home again tucked into our cozy beds.

From my Childhood Memories, © Suzy Gneist 2010