714 Webster Street. All my life I lived on Webster Street, with the exception of a brief move to Michigan when mom, dad, Junior, Joe and myself climbed into daddy’s old Plymouth Coupe onto a back seat that he had fashioned out of a board and off we went to Detroit. Charles my older brother already lived there and daddy and Junior went hoping to find work. Daddy went to work for Chrysler and Junior got a job at Canada Dry. Our life as Yankees didn’t last long and we were again back on Webster Street.
That old house held so many memories for our family. Compared to others it wasn’t much of a house but to us it was home because that is where mom and dad were. One of my vivid memories is when the Ice Man would deliver our ice. He knew how many pounds we wanted because we would hang out a sign with numbers on it indicating how many pounds we wanted that day. He would throw a burlap sack over his shoulder to protect it from the cold of the ice. He would bring it inside and put it in the ice box. We had an old army canteen that momma would fill with water and put on top of the ice and it would make an indention in the ice where it had been placed to get cold. I remember twisting off the lid, taking a drink and put it back for the next person. That old canteen never ran dry.
I remember the lace curtains that we had washed, starched and put on the curtain stretchers to dry and mom hanging with pride and all of us knew better to touch them. And the beds that we wouldn’t dare to sit on because she didn’t want wrinkles in her spread. I don’t know anything that mom enjoyed more than a clean house. As my brother would say later “dirt was her only enemy”.
The house on Webster Street was one that didn’t have locks on the doors except on the inside. It was a place that didn’t have hot water or a bath tub but we never went dirty. It was a place that we slept outside under the stars, either on the front porch or in the yard on blankets when we had more people than we did beds. The house on Webster Street was always open to everyone, friends as well as strangers. It was located near the railroad track, therefore, we got hobos from time to time stopping by because they were hungry. I can remember my dad saying to my mom “Carl fix this man something to eat” and she always did. That same railroad that brought hobos to our house also brought heat for the winter. We used to take our buckets and pick up coal that had fallen from the coal cars as the train would travel by.
I remember standing on the front porch with momma and watch the train that carried her mother, my grandma Bowman’s body from Michigan. And then to that house on Webster Street where she lay for a few days before her funeral so family and friends could pay their last respects (as was the custom in those days). That same house is where grandpa Bowman would sit on the front porch and play his banjo and sing ” Get Along Home Cindy Cindy” as we would sit around and listen.
I remember the our family along with aunts, uncles and cousins gathering in the yard on Saturday nights to play guitars and sing. I remember coming home from school and the smell of something on the stove cooking and it was the most wonderful smell in the world because it meant momma was home from work. I remember Christmas when we would sit in the floor and crack black walnuts with a hammer for momma to put into the fudge and our hands would be black from the stain. Daddy would go out and cut a cedar tree bring it in and make snow out of Ivory Flakes and water, beating it until it looked like icing for a pie and when it got just right he would pile it on the branches until they were weighted down. That was a job that was his alone and no one else was allowed to do it. Joe and I would make paper chains for the tree and then throw on the icicles.
We all know that not all memories on Webster Street were not good ones but the good ones are the ones that I choose to remember. My mother was the most selfless woman I have ever known and my daddy loved us as much as he was capable of loving.