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Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Golden Summers

Posted August 7, 2007 7:26 a.m. EDT

What are your favorite memories of spending time with grandparents? What were those golden summer days like when you spent a week or two with Grandma and Pop as I called my mother's parents or Nanny as I called my father's mother.

Nanny lived next door. She was a tall and elegant lady with the sweetest disposition of anyone I have ever known. When I think of her I smell lavender and lemonade. And I can taste her peppery fried chicken, the best I've ever eaten. Her beautiful wraparound porch was a magnet for townspeople who would stop by to share interesting stories on a summer evening of shelling peas, shucking corn and snapping beans.

Nanny shared lots of stories about history including the Revolutionary War when our ancestors, the McDowells of Quaker Meadows, played a key role in the Battle of Kings Mountain. My first childhood sports hero emerged on the screen of Nanny's parlor television set. When Willie Mays blasted a game winning grand slam I was smitten with my first taste of sports hero worship.

Nanny loved church and I can still see her in that lovely blue hat. But she didn't like the liturgy overhaul in the Episcopal Church. And she let the church leaders know it.

My mother's parents, the Bergerons, may have had the greenest thumbs in Charlotte. No one could grow tomatoes and beautiful flowers like Grandma and Pop. The ever cheerful Pop grew up on a farm near Zebulon and loved the smell of rich soil. I can still see Grandma's old stockings out there in the garden holding up those luscious tomato plants.

A canopy of trees shielded their home from the blazing summer sun. Their screened-in front porch was a refuge ffrom the heat and clouds of mosquitoes. Inside I can still taste Grandma's pound cake with the sweetest hint of almond. I can still feel the firm grip of Pop's hand taking me over to the old ballpark where he was a feared home run hitter and the absolute thrill I had as a teenager hitting a home run in the same park during an all star game.

I remember the book case in the den and all of those great books and falling in love with words and the rhythm and cadence of language. And I can still smell Pop's pipe tobacco and the rough feel of his pipe cleaners. I can still hear his hearty laugh. I can still see him hugging Grandma and talking about what a lucky man he was to meet her at a Halloween party many, many years ago.

I could go on and on but I'd like to hear from you and your stories about your grandparents.