Hotel Belle

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I remember my brother and I staying overnight at my grandma’s house when I was pretty young. There were so many things that were special about staying there. Even though I was strongly attached to my mom, I was able to break away for these overnights, and always remember it as an adventure. My brother and I each had our own “grip” or little suitcase to take for these overnights. Mine was wonderful! It was ROUND, and made of flocked white cardboard, with a pink pair of ballet slippers on it, I think. And it had a strap handle attached to it. I think my brother’s was just the boring rectangular type suitcase, but a classic, I’m sure.

Grams had things that we didn’t have at our house. She had a big metal tub in the garage, filled with sand, and we got to use the old metal scoops from the grocery store she had run long before to play in the sand. She had a cardboard stand-up store-front, complete with a toy cash register and toy money, and old receipt books, and rubber stamps, so we could play store. She had lots of old office supplies, so we could play office. We also played a lot of cards at grams’s house…canasta, rummy, and poker. I loved her poker chips! I still have the set made of different colored plastic in a nice wooden rack. I used to play with those chips, designing the floor plan of rooms in a house on the carpet, each room in a different color of chips.

The accommodations were pretty nice. She had a sort of trundle bed/sofa that pulled out into two twin beds for us to sleep on. I remember there were green and blue striped sheets that she’d put on for us, fresh and clean. She also had towels of different colors, so you could pick the color you wanted for your bath. And I can still smell the Camay perfumed soap she used. It made it feel like a hotel – and her name was Belle, hence the Hotel Belle title.

I don’t remember so much what we had for lunch or dinner when we stayed there, but I remember she’d get those single-serving sized boxes of assorted cereals to have on hand when we were there for breakfast. I thought it was pretty cool getting to choose your own cereal. I do remember we’d have picnic lunches in the summer. She had an old tablecloth that we’d spread on the lawn. We’d get to make Kool Aid in a copper pitcher, and she had those colored aluminum glasses that were popular in the 50’s, and you could pick your favorite color glass. I remember stirring the sugar into the Kool Aid, and cracking ice cubes out of the aluminum tray, and how cold the Kool Aid got in that pitcher.

I remember one time we washed her car, using the hose and a bucket of soapy water. I remember stepping back, running into the bucket, losing my balance, and sitting down into the bucket, soaking my seersucker shorts. My brother and grams laughed at me, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t find it so funny, and started crying. I remember playing croquet in the yard. And she had this big, white goose planter that I was sort of fond of. And I remember my brother running into the corner of the open crank-out window once, and I think he needed stitches. I also remember she’d have us pick up sticks in the yard and then she’d use the push mower to cut the grass. Sometimes we got to push the mower some. We thought that was big fun!

It wasn’t that our own house wasn’t fun…we had lots of stuff to play with, but it was just different at Hotel Belle, and a really special deal to me.

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