Friday, December 30, 2011

Now and Then

Three pleasant young men came into The Quilted Purl yesterday and have caused me to remember and reflect on two memories of my childhood.

Once or twice a year my mother would take me and my older brother on a bus trip to Salem, approximately five miles away, for a shopping trip.  I'm not sure why we would do this, as many of the Salem stores were also in Beverly where we went every week to visit my grandparents, aunts, and uncle.  Whatever the reason, it was a trip that I loved, not because of the shopping, but because of what we did after the shopping.  Before the return bus ride, we would always make a stop at Stanley's Cafeteria for hot chocolate and a grilled English muffin, the highlight of the trip.  The fact that Stanley's English muffins came as three slices rather than two was a source of amazement to me and I can still remember the crispy goodness of a muffin dripping with melted butter.  Memory number one.

Memory number two is something of a compilation.  I was in elementary school during the beginning of the Cold War.  I remember as a youngster crouching under my little school desk during our air raid practices. (I also remember as a six year old, thinking the small wooden desk provided precious little protection against an atomic bomb!)  Premier Kruschev's famous speech at the U.N., the pounding of his shoe, and the Cuban Missile Crisis were all events that caused me, even as a child, concern.  Maybe that's why a cup of hot chocolate and an English muffin were so comforting, but I doubt it.

So, how did three young men bring back these memories?  When they came up the stairs, they greeted me politely, looked around, and one inquired, "This is really more a shop for girls who knit, isn't it?"  I agreed that was often the case, and detecting an accent asked where they were from.  It seems that they were all from Russia, two from St. Petersburg and one from Moscow.  As we chatted, I learned that one of them was currently working on a Yale, studying Soviet- American relations of the 1980s, while the other two were working on a public health project.  After a few more minutes of chat, me welcoming them to Georgetown and them extending an invitation to visit Russia, they were gone, but not forgotten.

Traveling by bus to a city five miles away was an adventure to me over fifty years ago.  My little grandchildren have already flown across the country numerous times.  And we now live in a world where three young men from Russia have travelled thousands of miles to our country to visit, study, and enjoy our hospitality. Thank you for coming by The Quilted Purl, gentlemen, and giving me the chance to pause and reflect.

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