Sunday, 11 December 2016

The House On Metcalfe Street

I remember the house on Metcalf Street in Aurora.  I loved that house.  You came in the side door off the driveway and climbed the steep stairs to the kitchen level.  It always smelled of clean and cooking in there.  Just at the top of the stairs you took your shoes or boots off and left them on the newspapers placed there for your convenience.  You walked through the living room to the front bedroom where you put your coat on the bed and checked your hair in the dresser mirror with the little ebony hand mirror that was always there waiting. Grandad would be sitting in his favourite spot on the couch with his pipe, Grandma would be in the kitchen wearing one of her aprons.  All the women folk would be issued an apron and we all sat in the kitchen and caught up on the news.  Great Grandma was usually there as well.  She had such a thin reedy little voice you had to strain to hear her.
Off the kitchen was what people call a "mud room" now but Grandma wouldn't have appreciated that description.  It had a high couch that doubled as a bed for guests (it had a pull out mattress) a table and a radio with a citizen band.  You could get stations from around the world on it.  Best of all there was a pile of magazines and newspapers that you could sort through for reading material. 
The dining room also opened off the kitchen and when all of us gathered we ate in the dining room off Grams good china.  She was a fantastic cook.  Aunt Jean would always fall asleep over desert.  Always.  Someone would say, "there she goes" and we would all laugh.
At New Years when the whole family gathered I don't remember there ever being a Christmas tree.  Mom said  once she started holding Christmas at our house Gram didn't bother any more with a tree.  There were some festive touches though; bottle brush Christmas trees with pink and silver ornaments on the sideboard and a musical church on the piano and a tinsely sparkly centrepiece on the dining room table.
Up a steep flight of stairs was Gram and Grandads bedroom and a bathroom.  The bathroom had been a bedroom at one time and had been converted.  There was one long wall of built in cupboards with sliding doors, black and white tile on the floor, and black and white ceramic tile on the walls half way up.   For a kid used to outdoor plumbing this bathroom was "da bomb".
Bright lights
and tinsel
and elbows
on the table,
old folks
and young
we'll do it
while we're able.
when we're gone,
you can tell
the fable
of how we kept
the old ways
of meeting
at the table.


  1. Beautiful.
    And, as you know, you were very, very lucky to know your extended family.

  2. "The old ways of meeting at the table"
    I really like the sound of that. Never happened at our house, we weren't really a together family.
    I suppose it's harder when your parents left everyone they knew behind to bring us girls to Australia.
    We had no family here until we kids grew up and made our own families.

    1. New times, new traditions. All valuable in their own way.

  3. What a lovely memory of gathering the clan together...warm and nostalgic... beautiful.
    Beautiful writings, too 🎄☃❄

    1. I've been blessed with warm happy memories and I do not take them for granted.

  4. Beautiful memories. I'd forgotten about the "bottle brush" Christmas trees! Your post made me think about how the repetition every year - the same ornaments, decorations, and rituals, in the same places - is what makes the memories so strong. We had the same patterns in our house when I was growing up. Christmas Day my grandfather would visit and stay for the big meal, Christmas evening or Boxing Day (depending on the weather) we'd drive to my great-grandmother's, have a visit and another meal, leftovers this time (and that's where I first ate "pothead" without knowing what it was (spiced pig brains!!) and read the accumulated Winnipeg Free Press papers with comics. We always got dressed up to visit, and I always got to sit in the combination chair/step stool beside the old Frigidaire. It was usually a long visit and quite tedious as one of my uncles was a talker, and long-winded, but it wouldn't have been the same without all of it.

  5. Gram had the same step stool/seat combination with the steps that folded up under the seat right? Hers was beside the stove and was my favourite place to perch because it was so warm (and I was close to all the goodies).

    1. Right, that's the one! The stove wasn't far from me on the other side, so it was a cozy place, and fun to sit so high.

  6. What a fantastic story and poem.

    I fear our tradition is dying with us.

    1. The family still gathers with us on Christmas Day but New Years is rarely celebrated. Time will tell if they continue the tradition after we are gone.

  7. Again, you've brought back some fabulous memories of me at my Grandma's house which is where I was the happiest as a kid. The kitchen table was where we all gathered and after eating, we chatted over dessert and coffee. Once the dishes were done, we went to the living room and turned on Lawrence Welk... Best holidays ever.

  8. So lovely to read your story and poem.
    I'm appreciating these posts very much ...thank you.

    All the best Jan


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