Two summers in a row I spent my entire break living at Grandma’s house. My memories of those summers are some of the best times I can remember, but how could they not? Grandma took me swimming every single day, either in the Colorado River or the community pool, I never took a bath, and my mom picked me up two months later with the same exact braids as she dropped me off with, only fuzzier.
I have no idea how Grandma and Auntie ended up living in the little desert community of Parker, Arizona. I’m pretty sure it was during the Cold War. They wanted to be somewhere safe when the communist Russians invaded.
Living out on top of a desert plateau, you could spot Grandma’s mobile homes from miles around. I say homes, because her lot consisted of two mobiles in a row, sort of, creating a house and guest house combo, and then she painted them turquoise. They were the two bright pieces of a Native American necklace, and people paused to take a longer glance.
Grandma drove the biggest grey station wagon ever. I would lay down flat in the back and have room to roll around, which I did many times driving into town. If I had a friend with me, we’d play house for hours back there. It also transported Grandma’s weekly grocery treasures.
Extreme couponers have nothing on Grandma, because once a week, on Saturday or Tuesday or something, Safeway would dump all their expired “sell by” food into the dumpster out back. I can still hear Grandma and Auntie gasp at how it’s so sad to see such good food to go to waste. So once a week I’d ride along and keep myself busy playing in the alley while Grandma and Auntie disappeared into the dumpster in search of that week’s food finds.
This particular week while keeping myself busy I found an orange rubber hazard cone. I did what any child with average intelligence would do, I picked it up and with all my might screamed,
“GRANDMA! WHAT ARE YOU DOING”?!
That second Grandma popped up. I could see her fluffy white afro and arms waving. The loose skin wobbling even faster than her arms. And in her slight British accent yelled, as quietly as possible, “Be QUIET! Put that thing down”!
Apparently Grandma didn’t want the bank patrons across the alley to know about her secret, and it was a good secret because that night I watched Grandma fry pounds and pounds of expired bacon.