When I eat Ritz crackers with cream cheese, I think of my grandparents, of childhood winters in Florida, of the briny ocean stink as we put in the boat at Wiggins’ pass. Mummum stocked the cooler with the three necessities for any fishing excursion: water for me, beer for the adults, and sandy cracker sandwiches for everyone.
But we didn’t use Ritz, God no. They were expensive, and the generic was good enough. We didn’t shop at the chain groceries, either, where prices were higher. We went to Benson’s corner market or the scratch-and-dent food store. The very fact that they had a winter condo and a boat nearly overwhelmed my grandmother, so she made sure the condo was part of a cheap complex at the end of Wilson Street.
Nights, she and my mom sat smacking mosquitoes and talking seashells, while I swam, and my grandfather and some companion played pool in the rec room.
It was years before I understood that my grandparents weren’t paupers, that Mummum’s inherently frugal nature was fixed in childhood. She watched her father rise through the ranks of the L&N railroad while their neighbors struggled to supply their basic needs during the Great Depression. Bonita Springs was a luxury, and she appreciated every second of it.
I skipped weeks of school for those south Florida winters, and I yearn for them now, for the Sheepshead and drawbridges. When I’m old, I shall go back and live forever, make my children plan their vacations around me while I beachcomb and soak in the surf. I’ll try to re-create my grandparents’ lifestyle by catching my own fish, eating generic foods and wasting dollars in gas to save pennies on vegetables. I’ll smear thin cream cheese on round buttery crackers, and when I simply have to splurge, I’ll go out and buy the name brand.
I wrote this last week for Trifecta, but I never got it posted (go me! I’m to busy to update my own blog!) Although I don’t particularly like, much less participate in “thankful” memes – they are alllll about hypocrisy for too many people – this fits the thankful theme over at Write on Edge, where I don’t participate nearly often enough.
The picture is of my grandparents as I remember them best. It was taken at our house in Ohio by my Auntie Em (not her real name; yes that’s what I called her though).