Sunday, September 30, 2012

Still across the generations

My Grandmother and Grandfather, Ida and Manne Svedberg, died decades ago.  The memories of driving to Grand Forks ND and spending time there seem to be crisp as if it just occurred.  Eric, my brother, says every time you recall a memory you recreate it and it might not be 100 % accurate anymore but it now becomes the new memory and any fact changes are indistinguishable to you from the original memory. 

The drive to Grandma and Grandpa's for Christmas has one over-all memory for me.  On Christmas Eve Dad would have to work during the day so we couldn't leave until evening.  It was always a rush to finally leave.  Eric and I were always put in the car, buckled up, while it was running so it would warm up.  Mom and Dad always had to go back in for something they 'forgot and to lock up'.  What they 'forgot' was having a minute with Eric and I buckled in the car so they make sure Santa could get down the chimney...

Dad would find a radio station that played constant Christmas music.  I remember feeling mostly occupied at the start of the drive, but after we passed Fargo/Moorhead area I knew we were half way there and I would soon be with my cousins. 
I remember leaning against the car door and watching the dry snow swirling on the highway illuminated by the car headlights.  And the flat snow-covered landscape would be illuminated by the moon. 
Some times it snowed and looking out the windshield that pattern of streaks of snowflakes in the headlights was mesmerizing, hypnotizing.  One year we drove up in the Blue Datsun B210 and it was so cold out that during the 5 hour drive it never warmed up in the car.  Eric and I were bundled with blankets in the back seat.
All the time the Christmas music flowed from the radio and Mom and Dad would open the thermos of coffee and I would complain that the smell of coffee stunk so bad.  Sometimes we would stop at a restaurant so Mom and Dad could buy a refill on their thermos.  That or a bathroom break were the only stops. 
Back then you had to go to a restaurant for your coffee because gas stations only sold gasoline, oil, and if you were lucky a rack of candy bars that you had to squeeze a little to know if they were so old they were rock hard.  If it had a mechanics bay or two it would have all sorts of mufflers hanging from the ceiling and an assortment of belts on the walls.  It was later the gasoline industry discovered the profitability of including a self serve restaurant offering easily heatable food, hot dogs rolling on heaters for 25 hours, a full case of doughnuts and premium ready-made coffee.  Often there is a token brown spotted banana and a bruised apple or two to show that they do care about a vegetarian or your cholesterol.  I don't know which, but I imagine they're killing one bird with two fruits.
Now when I smell coffee I like it, I think of the drives up to Grandma and Grandpas for Christmas.  Of coming over a rise in the landscape and suddenly see a horizontal line of twinkling lights that was Grand Forks.

This wall hanging, partially completed by Grandma Ida, is now completed by me.
 The dowel and gold trim were missing.  I tried to get more information about the pattern, Bucilla Kit No. 48635 'JEWELED PANEL' 'holiday scenes', specifically the year it was produced.  Searches on the internet only came up with a few EBay sales.  Bucilla is now owned by Plaid. 
The pattern is old enough that a copyright year is not listed on it.  The contact information actually says "Please direct any correspondence to: Bucilla, 30-20 Thomson Avenue, Long Island City, NY 11101"
That address is now a school.
In a reply from Plaid they said they did not have any of the records from Bucilla and that Bucilla had not been at that address "for many, many years".
I imagine the person who answered my email was probably born in the 80's and that indeed it was many, many years ago; you know, before the internet, which is akin to when man discovered fire and the wheel was invented. 
To me the 80's are just a blink ago.