MY SATURDAY ROOST

Note: Following is a page from my spiritual journal.

In the early 1950s, Salem Bank’s downstairs coffee room was sometimes my Saturday roost. During my early grade school years, if both grandmas were busy and Mother had to work, my folks took me with them to the bank.

Those days, she smiled as if telling a joke. “It’s OK. After all, you are the bank baby!”

Mother sometimes took me to say hello to the old men who sat at one end of the lobby behind large desks. During a visit, one of them said, “I once changed your diaper!”

I blinked. My diaper?

His story was probably true. Daddy was away in WWII when I was born. Mother had been working at the bank. With the town’s men away fighting, the bank needed all the good workers they could find.

For some reason the bank officers allowed Mother to bring me with her in the buggy.

I could read now and Mother gave me a quarter to buy a comic book. Once the Goshen News opened at 9:00, I went upstairs, told daddy I was leaving and walked two doors down to shop for comics.

Wonder Woman? Lassie? Little Lulu? The quarter would buy two, but it was hard to decide which ones. Once I did, I scampered back to the bank and checked in with Daddy whose desk was near the front door. Returning to the basement’s break room, I lost myself in the comic books’ words and pictures.

When Daddy came downstairs for his coffee time, he dropped a dime in a special jar so I could eat a donut from the covered dish on the long table. While he sipped coffee, I chewed my sweet reward for being a “good girl.”

Mother’s daddy, Grampa Harry, also worked at the bank. He was the janitor. Saturdays when Mother and Daddy took me to work, he stepped into the break room now and then and raised his eyebrows at me. “You bein’ good?”

The break room –Mother stands far right.

The break room –Mother stands far right.

At noon, Mother, Daddy and I trooped next door to Myers Drug store’s grill. Sitting in a wooden booth, I bit into a hamburger and French fries. Mother and Daddy drank coffee but I gulped a cold chocolate shake. My favorite meal!

After lunch, I tired of coloring, cutting paper dolls and reading comics. I found Grampa and followed him around. He was grumpy. “Stand back! Don’t touch that!”

“I’m goin’ upstairs.” I said.

Head down, Grampa glurked greenish liquid into a tall metal pail with a squeeze-y mop-thing on it. He didn’t look up but said, “You stay out of everyone’s way!”

I climbed the steps that came up behind the directors’ desks. The old men were gone.

Using soft steps, I approached the tellers’ area. Not speaking, I watched people standing in line. A farmer wore jeans and

People wait in tellers’ lines.

People wait in tellers’ lines.

a boxy coat. Most men wore hats, one woman covered her hair with a scarf. The weather was chilly and all wore some kind of jacket.

Sometimes an Amish man came in wearing a long beard, black coat and a hat like a pilgrim. Watching people is fun!

After looking at men and women who came and went through the front glass doors that opened automatically, my eyelids felt heavy. Think I’ll take a nap.

Returning to the break room, I curled up on the leather-like couch that my shoes wouldn’t hurt. Next thing I knew, I heard Daddy say, “Time to go, Junior!”

I sat up and blinked.

“Where’s Mother?”

“She’s not ready yet. I’ll come back and get her later.” He smiled. “Let’s go home and see Bootsie! She’ll want out.”

We lived about a mile from town and Daddy soon parked our dark green Buick in front of the house. Before he got his house key out, through the front door’s glass panel I

saw our rust-colored cocker spaniel dancing inside the door. Her tag wagged and her toenails tap-tap-tapped on the wood floor.

With a jingle of his key ring, Daddy pushed the door in. Bootsie rushed out, sniffed me, romped into the yard and squatted in the mostly brown spring grass.

Memories of a less complicated time left me with a smile. I am blessed.

Frances Fritzie

Frances Fritzie

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