Thursday, October 29, 2009

I Am Your Grandmother

When I was little, my grandmother (Momo. They were ALL Momos) was a highly revered, sometimes feared and always respected woman of a strong presence.
I am now a grandmother and I don't feel like what I thought my Momo felt like. She was so
old, even then. My Momo scared me and loved well beyond reason. When she wasn't looking she taught me all about Love Letters.
She was, like, Jackie Kennedy's mom old.
She was old.
And, then there
was my mom. She lived through the depression. She grew up in the Strawberry Hill section of Kansas City. She was the daughter of an insurance salesman and a full-time, old-school saint of a mother. More Lace-Curtain Irish than not.
They were Uber-Catholics. Momo played piano by ear and Papa Leo sang with his brothers in a barbershop quartet.
They lived a version of reality that I don't think you could imagine. There were late nights full of 3 part harmony and slamming doors. Screaming sisters and not enough milk.
My mom and all her sisters had their
hair permed by hooking up jumper cables to the chandeliers in the dining room. When somebody got physically broke or tore up, they sent one of the girls across the alley to get the doctor.
This Irish-Catholic Matriarchy is not what I would have ordered off the menu, but - it's what I've got and I'm all about my Momo now.
My Momo probably saved my teeny weeny life
a time or two, but everyone who could validate this has already moved along. I can't go anywhere and research this, but I've been told. She was my Momo.
Now I am a Grandma. A Momo. I don't look like a Momo.
Wow. I so really did not think I'd live this lon
g. There's this deal about being a musician. When you're playing live, you don't ever want to follow somebody who is way way better than you.
The deal about being a Momo is that ....

...well. Damn.

The bar is set so high.

The Momos before me have set precedent.

I'm pretty sure I can.
I'll Google it.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

NO sale. No Sale.

One time a long time ago, I was with Bryanmasters (that's just what we always called him) and we went into Zelmans (I think it is, there on Douglas by what used to be Panama Reds.)
It was before a job at Reds and we were just killing time.
We were both talking about how we'd never actually seen anyone shop at that store and admiring the attention to detail that had been paid to the front windows. In 1956. Picked over and thinned out by people we'd never seen buying things we couldn't imagine anybody actually using.
Mrs. Zelman walked up as we were admiring and we asked if we could go in. She looked at us like we had parrots on our heads and said, "Y'nevah buy anything," as she was reaching for her key and unlocking the front door.

Mrs. Zelman is as much a Wichita institution as Century II (or she used to be, I haven't been there much in 10 years or so.) The story I've been told is that she and Mr. Zelman were captives in one of the Nazi camps and she always carried a bar of that soap.
She never drove and always took the bus and walked EVERY where.
For real.
She had to be 83 the night she shadowed us in her store.

She followed us for a good 15 minutes muttering, "Y'nevah gonna buy anything..." Then we'd move on to another item and she'd kinda bark "NO SALE! no sale."
She was relentless. She said "NO sale" like, 36 times in a handful of minutes. This happened for the duration of our visit.

We didn't buy anything simply because we just couldn't justify buying anything (probably.) And we probably had a house full of kids and no money.
Well, that AND she kept saying "NO SALE." I still feel kinda bad about not stimulating her economy.

So, if you're in Wichita and anywhere near downtown AND by some miracle of feistiness Mrs. Zelman is still alive and torturing shoppers - you must go in and buy something.
Then scoot down to the Donut Whole and have a maple-bacon donut or two.
Both of these things will make me feel better.
Go me.