Friday, March 10, 2017

Other People's Lives

As I am busily writing the next Crochet Mystery and creating characters, I tend to think about people I have known and what their lives were like. I have always been interested in seeing how other people live. Even when I was a kid it fascinated me. I remember a family that lived about a half a block from us and yet it seemed like they were in a different universe. My brother was in boy scouts with the son and I was friends with one of the daughters.

They lived in a nice row house, we lived in a rundown apartment building that was built as a hotel for the World’s Fair in Chicago. My family was always struggling to make ends meet, they were comfortable since the father was a dentist who had a famous opera singer as a patient.

The mother was a severe looking woman with dark hair threaded with some strands of gray and a strict attitude. The kids were never allowed to help themselves to food. In fact the pantry was locked. Everything had a schedule including the afternoon snack. She would give us each a glass a ginger ale and a store bought sugar cookie served on a round metal tray.

She and her dentist husband always had martini’s when he came home. They would sit in the living room which was off limits to the kids. The children ate separately from their parents and different food as well.

She had two types of punishments for her kids - a spanking and a thrashing. I never knew the exact details of what a thrashing was, but it certainly didn’t sound good. There was nothing soft or warm about her. The dentist father was rather formal and seemed distant from the kids.

Their house had two stairways. The front one was carpeted and the back one was steep and dark with bare stairs. I fell down the back one once and hit my head. The mother called my mother to come and get me. It was only a half a block from our place and I was very independent and was surprised to have my mother come. I knew that it must really be serious when instead of going directly home, my mother took me to this tiny market nearby and bought me a box of Droste’s chocolates in the shape of Dutch shoes. It was a luxury beyond luxury to me then. They cost twenty nine cents when candy bars were a nickle. These days you can get them in the Vermont Country Store catalog for a lot more money.

Funny how I don’t remember any damage from the fall, just the wonderful moment when I got those chocolate shoes and how much it meant to me that my mother had gotten them for me.

5 comments:

ldosborn said...

Ah, the mind of a true sociologist. I too have always been fascinated by other people's homes and lives. I even love the "reality" shows, though of course most are scripted. Maybe it's just being snoopy, but that's me ! Your characters are great, from nasty Dective Heather to mommy Bree. Keep up the good work !

Linda O. Johnston said...

They do sound like an interesting family--more fodder for your writing, too!

Betty Hechtman said...

ldosborn, thank you. Thanks for reminding me about detective Heather. I think she'll make an appearance in the book I'm working on.

Miriam Lubet said...

I also am curious about other people's lives and wonder about them. I have always been that way. My friends think I am crazy so I'm glad I'm not alone.

Betty Hechtman said...

Miriam, you are definitely not alone. I got a real eyeful during my babysitting days.