I learned a lot of things at the hands of my grandmother Margaret Aiken. Margaret was a feisty woman, married to Lloyd Aiken, a well-known Cleveland architect. He drank. It’s a shame that she married an alcoholic back in the day, but who knew? Who knows now?
I close my eyes and I can still see their house. There was a field on West 130th Street and then the house was the first one on Highlandview Avenue. I know my grandfather chose the avenue for the Scottish name.
It was a lovely home, much of the interior work was done by my grandfather. They subscribed to “National Geographic” magazine and while my parents thought my brother and I were getting an education, we were looking at “those” pictures instead. What can I say? We were curious. They had a fireplace, beautiful wood floors, and secret cabinets that only my grandfather could open. The house always smelled so good too.
We had many wonderful meals at my grandmother’s table. I learned my love of food at her house and my love of other things too.
I got to stay overnight there a lot and that meant I got a little Stroh’s beer in a glass at night, and I got coffee mixed with hot milk for breakfast. I still love beer and I love Cafe’ au Lait to this day.
My favorite memory though was opening all the cupboards and drawers in the sideboard in the dining room. I own my grandmother’s dishes to this day. They are Havilland Limoge and I have so many good meal memories. However that is not the real reason I loved opening everything and peeping; the real reason is that my grandmother kept a tube of Revlon Fire and Ice lipstick in there and I used to open the tube and take a deep breath of that bright red lipstick. I loved that gold tube.
You see when I went to visit I got to go on the streetcar to downtown Cleveland AND I got to wear a hint of Fire and Ice lipstick. I can only imagine the looks we got, but she did not care. Grandmother allowed me to do that because she loved me. It made me feel important and she knew it. I love red lipstick to this day and just yesterday I figured out why she kept it there.
The sideboard had a mirror hanging over it, and when she needed to freshen her lipstick, it was right there within easy reach. I am so used to keeping my lipstick in my purse but yesterday I had a meeting at my house, and I got my lipstick out of my purse and looked at it. Then I remembered my grandmother and now if you visit my house and you open the top left hand drawer of my sideboard you will find a black tube of Fire and Ice lipstick. Oh how I love my Fire and Ice memories and miss my grandmother.