Burning Yarn and Greyhounds~Part 2 or Cherry Pits and Toast the Size of Texas

If you missed yesterday’s installment please go here first.

Go ahead, I will wait!

Okay, all caught up? Good.

Our bus trip took 6 1/2  hours! I couldn’t understand why we didn’t just drive at the time since Grandma drove at home and had a car. I think she just didn’t like driving in the big city. I knew that she had an appointment but wasn’t sure what for. I thought it was just for a simple check up.

Once we arrived at the Minneapolis bus depot, we had to find a way to get to where we were staying. My Grandma’s mode of choice? City bus. Taxis were too expensive. Side note: why are the bus depots always in the shittiest areas of town? I mean really! So, city bus it was. I had never been so freaked out in my life. Grandma told me not to worry, just don’t look at anyone. Don’t worry!

We were let off in front of the University of Minnesota Hospital. It looked so big and I was sure we were going to get lost. We set out to this institutional looking building way at the back of the campus. She said it was called Powell Hall. It was a resident hall for nursing students that was built in the 1930’s. In the late 70’s it was also used for patient lodging at reduced pricing.

Powell Hall before demo

This is where we stayed. The room was simple. Two beds, a desk and a garbage can. What more did we need? Bathroom? Down the hall and to the left. I had never stayed in a hotel so I didn’t know what I was missing and I didn’t care.

It was an adventure!

Once we had settled, Grandma was excited to show me the tunnels.

Tunnels? In Minnesota, our winters can range from mild (this year ) or they can be biting and bitter cold, freezing your skin with the first wisp of the wind on your face. So what do Minnesotans do? We build tunnels or skyways so we can traverse city block upon city block without having to go outside. Smart.

We traipsed from building to building, her telling me about each one. I reveled in her knowledge. Even though in my heart, I just knew we were going to get lost. I JUST KNEW IT!

We rounded a corner and what did my eyes see? A vending machine that dispensed pop into CUPS! Just like those weird coffee machines. She pulls out her worn change purse and offers me a quarter.

Orange Fanta, Rootbeer Fanta, Strawberry Fanta and OMG….CHERRY FANTA! Although I had never had cherry flavor, I picked that. To this day, I can still taste the tartness of the flavoring, feel the bubbles bursting on my tongue. It was THE BEST POP EVER! All fizzy and tasty and nummy.

We kept exploring the tunnels until we reached the newest building where she needed to check in and make sure her appointments for the next day were set up and on schedule. Once she did this, she announced that we were going to go to dinner and then to the corner store to buy snacks and things for breakfast. I just couldn’t believe that she was so daring to go walk around the big city without a care in the world.

My Grandma was BRAVE!

I was excited to go out for dinner. She said she found this place the last time she was here and she loved it. Funny how the man behind the counter remembered her from a month ago and addressed her by name. It was a hole in the wall, corner restaurant where they served steak (omg, right?) with a side of cole slaw and Texas toast for $5!  I bet you can guess what we ordered! While we ate, we sat by the windows, laughed and made fun of the students walking by in their Hash jeans, birkies and dreads. Maybe this is where I got my penchant for making fun of people? And we ate until we nearly burst.

Another thing I remember clearly were all the African-Americans in the area. You have to understand, I grew up in Whiteville, USA and we only had one African American in my home town. And they happened to be a trouble maker.  So this different cultural stew was a wonder to me. Growing up with a man who I have always described as Archie Bunker on steroids, fueled my imagination. Can you imagine all the thoughts in my head during this time? I don’t claim that it was right, just that it was the way it was. Period. I am thankful everyday that I am the complete opposite of him.

On the way back to Powell Hall, we stopped off at the small grocery shop on the corner to stock up. She eyed the cherries and even though they were out of season and expensive, she bought a huge bag.

Grandma was cool! Buying fruit out of season…my mom would NEVER do that!

I hope you have enjoyed today’s installment.

Stay tuned for part 3!




Burning Yarn and the Greyhound~Part 1

Today, I am going to pay on my promise from last week in “An Award? For Me?”

My awesome blogger friend, Thypolar gave me an award that made me tell y’all 10 things about myself during my acceptance.

It made me dig deep into my memory banks (which are really full by the way) and pull out things I hadn’t thought of in a while. I can’t do the story justice by jamming it into one posting so I won’t even try.

Thus starts the tale…

Burning  yarn.

I can still smell that smell.

I have to go back 31 years to tell this story. It’s a tale of a grandmother and her daughter’s daughter and their adventure together in the “City”. Looking back, it was a time of bonding for us, support for her and a way to forget about why we were really there.

5 a.m. comes mighty early when you are 12 years old. But when you are going on an adventure, you are up and at ’em without a care in the world that you couldn’t sleep all night. That morning, my mom brings my grandma and me to the bus depot in town. It was dark, cold and damp.

I can remember the anticipation and wonderment when the bus pulled up. It was so big and looked so much more comfortable than the school bus! I had never been on anything besides a yellow school bus, let alone a Greyhound bus , but I may as well have been going on a plane to a far away land.

We wave goodbye to my mom as we board the bus with our bags. Grandma always had her bag with her, filled with goodies to keep herself busy. Today? It was filled with things for the both of us! She has taken this trip many times. Nearly all of them by  herself. I never realized until I grew up what that must have been like for her.

Getting on a bus, knowing where she was going and what was in store for her when she arrived. We always said she was a tough lady. Now, I know why she was so tough.

I like to think that both my mom and I got that trait from her.

Grandma was always a self-sufficient woman. A self-trained chef, an avid book-worm, and a master crocheter all rolled into one. I learned more about her in this one weekend than I had in all my 12 years. Although, at age 12…you really don’t realize what it is that you learned. At 43, I now know and am much wiser for it.

With anticipation, we are off!

An hour or so into the trip, she pulls out 2 crochet hooks and yarn and states, “You are going to learn to crochet.”

I think I laughed at her a little. My mom had tried teaching me how to knit and I was all thumbs. There was no way I was going to be able to crochet!

She held a fount of saintly patience. She placed the hook in my hand the proper way and showed me how to make a chain. After several attempts at it, I finally got a few chains made! She said that the more you do it, the better you would get.

So I kept going. I crocheted until I had a chain that likely would have been able to wrap around the bus 5 times.

When she felt I had enough and could move on she pulled out her lighter.

“Wait, I thought you quit smoking!”, my heart pounding in my chest. I was waiting for the pack of cigarettes to follow.

“Silly! I forgot to grab my scissors and we’ll have to use this to cut the yarn!” she said with a smile spread across her face. She knew how much I hated the smell of cigarette smoke.

A big sigh of relief.

She burns the end and shows me how to tie it off.

I will always remember that smell.

It wasn’t of a cigarette burning.

It was yarn.

Burning yarn on a Greyhound bus.

To be continued….