One bleak afternoon this past winter, I hauled my trusty Mac over to my aunt and uncle's house in South Jersey. My grandmother (we call her mom-mom) stayed there all through her chemo treatments (that house being closer to the hospital and various doctors' offices she needed to frequent versus her "real" house on Long Beach Island). I had agreed to write an article for Living LBI magazine about the women of LBI. And, considering mom-mom grew up there, still lives there (she's back at home, by the by - chemo worked!), and has always been the epitome of LBI-dom to me, obviously she was the perfect person about which to write.
So K and I interviewed her. Have you ever interviewed an older family member? I think everyone should have to, at least once -- someone at least one generation removed from them. The world they remember is so different, but their plans and ideas tend to be the same as ours, and it paints a vivid reminder of our universality. I digress.
Mom-mom talked and talked about her life on LBI. I had already known the basics (including her three husbands -- which, for a woman born in the 30's, is pretty rare), but I was blown away by the details. Such sass! Even cooler was when she talked about the various jobs she held on the island; how she learned to drink her coffee black; how she memorized her customers' orders and became part of the fabric of the town.
When I went to write about the interview, though, the story took a different turn, as stories are wont to do. So I tried to follow it, and this is what came out of that interview, over hot tea on my aunt's couch with my mom-mom wrapped up in a cozy blanket. (Click on the Summer 2010 issue and scroll over to page 42. You can zoom in by right clicking.)