Thursday, August 28, 2014

Concert night for mom

Hazel Whitney: c.  Late 1930's.

It was 5:30 when I called mom on Wednesday She'd just come in from sitting outside and reading the paper.

"There's never anything in the paper, anymore," mom sighs. "Not much to read. But, I like to sit and watch the traffic. Tonight there is a concert in the park across the street. They have a summer concert series. I don't know if this is the last one. If it rains they move it to the Fire House, just up the street. And sometimes they have the concert there because some of the group don't want to play outside. Might be bad for their instruments or something. Looks like a nice night and they will be playing in the park.

"My friend Velma will come and pick me up. She always brings chairs. I don't know what we'll do after the concert. We always go the Red's and Trudy's... teas and pie or something, but they are closed. I don't know if they are renovating or building a new place, but they won't be open for a while."

After a night at the Roller Skating rink, mom would go to Red's and Trudy's with dad when they were dating. It was a popular teen hang out back in the '30's and '40's. I went there with friends in the 60's and my older brother most likely frequented R&T as a teen in the '50's.

Mom keeps bringing up Red's and Trudy's and I've been trying to remember the owner's name when I went there. Finally remembered. Told mom a guy named Hoppie (sp) ran the diner in my day.

"Hoppie Caya," she replied. "Oh, he still owns it. His family runs it now."

I was looking for his name on Google search just now -- to check his name spelling and found this great New York Times article about Red's & Trudy's (proper name). Hoppie or Hoppy is Fred Caya.

Here it is:

Mom says she doesn't have anything to do. It's boring. She doesn't have many friends who drive and can go out to shop and stuff anymore. A lot of the people living in her complex have formed little groups of friends and do stuff together. She isn't friends with any of them. She says it would be nice to have someone to go with when she needs groceries. But she does have Dennis to take her shopping. Sometimes he takes her list and goes for her. "That's nice, but he doesn't know what size can I want or my brands."

Speaking of grocery shopping, she told me she got in trouble with a lot of people for hiking the quarter mile or so to the nearest grocery store on Tuesday. "Everyone said I shouldn't have walked that far. They said I might have fallen or got hurt. I like to walk, it didn't seem very far."

She said Dennis had come for a visit earlier that day (Wednesday).

We talked last week about her spending some of the money she thinks she has, for some new clothes. She's been thinking about that since and went through her wardrobe. "The clothes I have are fine," she says with a chuckle. "I have enough to wear. I just get damned tired of my clothes."

Mom has been working on remembering. She says, after we talked on Sunday she spent some time thinking about how happy she was when visiting us in Massachusetts. Being with the girls and their summerlong visits to the farm. I've been trying to get her to expand beyond those thoughts. She's pretty content with these thoughts for now.

She went back to talking about her night out and if they would find another place to get some dessert. "There really isn't anything nearby. Even in Olean there is just these fancy places that cost an arm and a leg. Probably just come home after the concert."

I asked her about the Hot Shoppe which was near the farm and where I grew up. Fremmings (sp?), the people who lived in the castle-looking house next door to the drive-in diner, fell in love with the Hot Shoppe chain when they traveled to Florida. The diners that offered roller-skating car hop service were very popular in the 50's. So, when they returned home they built a copy of the chain and it was cash cow for many years. I've met people who lived in Pennsylvania that would drive quite a ways to shop at Westons Shopper City and dine at the Hot Shoppe.

Later the Gomez family bought the diner. The name was changed to Gomez Drive-in, later their daughter and her husband took over. Beyond that, I lost track of the place. Mom says it is long gone. She says the building finally fell apart. So going there for pie is not an option.

Oh yes, I reminded mom that her sister, Aunt B worked there as a carhop when I was still pretty young. I think she waited on cars wearing roller skates. Mom said she forgot all about that. Said Aunt B lived with us then, but I don't think she did -- at least not for very long.

Mom went into her take on what children are missing out on, these days. "I look at the young and they aren't getting what they need. Mothers work all day and kids don't get a good dinner. They come home from school and an older sister or baby-sitter watches them. Lot of times they eat stuff from a can. Children should have healthy meals." I asked what she thought they should be eating. She lists meat, mashed potatoes and gravy. Sounds like what I grew up on. She says a lot of kids do get free meals in school nowadays and that's a good thing. She likes getting Meals on Wheels five days a week, even though she doesn't think she qualifies for them. Somebody told her she did -- everyone living in her complex does.

I asked her if she remembered canning stuff from the garden. "Oh yes, we canned corn. We shucked it and I cut all of that corn off the cob." I reminded her of when she used to make root beer and we'd have to move the case of bottles around the yard to keep them out of the sun and from exploding. She laughed and said, "Oh yes." She was using that phrase more than usual and made me think she wasn't really remembering things I was bringing up.

For the first time in our string of calls, mom was ready to say goodbye. It was 6:05 p.m. Velma would be there to pick her up for the concert around 6:30. Mom wanted to grab a bite to eat and finish getting ready. I told her I would call again on Saturday. "That will be good," she says. "You just don't know what your calls mean to me." I think I do know.

We said our love yous and goodbyes. Have fun at the concert, mom.


  1. Nice post and beautiful picture of Grandma! I can see how both you and Liz resemble her in this picture. When I was a kid the car hop place was called F&J's, named after the owners who I think were named Frances & Josephine. I went to school with their daughter, Francine.

    1. This must have been mom's favorite picture of herself, as i don't remember many others of her when she was real young. Josephine was the daughter of the Gomez family. she and her husband took it over. That place spanned a lot of generations. Thanks for the update.


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