Saturday, June 14, 2008

Grandpa's Bank


Every hot-august morning, after the 8 o'clock train whistle blows, we leave Grandma's bakery warm kitchen and head downtown. I walk with Grandpa - hand in hand - the 3 blocks to his bank. Sometimes, he lets me carry the enormous ring of 16 ancient and important keys.

"It's our secret," he says, slyly, with a wink.

147 steps from Grandma's back door to the chipped-up cement steps of the bank.

3 minutes, more or less.

We step-stumble around the muddy puddles from last night's cloud burst.
We wave at the 2 women in the Post Office.
We shake our heads at the neighbor's pregnant dog. "Go home, Daisy!"
and then...

We're here!

Grandpa's Bank.

Together, we unlock the heavy door. Number 7 Main Street West.

The clunk of the trusty lock...
A gentle push on the brass handle...
The door swings open wide...

We're inside!

It takes a moment for our eyes to adjust to the darkness of this quiet room. It smells warm and dusty and familiar. The early morning sunlight drips onto the dozens of crackling grey tiles, spelling the bank name backwards in the shadows on the floor. The dust dances in that morning light.

First things first: I step-jump up onto the old church pew that sits along the front wall, my summer clog-sandals cha-chunking against the wood of the seat. I check out the 6 "Wanted" posters. Whew! No one I know.

Then, I take my bank-place securely under the cashier's counter. I slip out of my shoes, and shimmy into my spot. I am crouched low, sitting behind the secret door. The top of my pony-tailed head skims the underside of the solid oak counter. My back presses against the cream-painted stucco wall, and my pink city-girl legs slap onto the chilly floor. I fit perfectly!

I sit here for hours...
well, minutes maybe,
carefully examining the red dust on my 10 pale naked Norwegian toes.

Waiting...

For anything...

1 single person...

1 single phone call...


Waiting...


Waiting...


Then, it happens!

The phone rings! 2 quick rings, and Grandpa answers it. He talks for a while. He hangs up and fishes a quarter out of his pants pocket.

"That was Grandma. Time to go home. Here's a quarter. Stop at Mabel's for a treat. I'll see you at lunch."

And so, I go, stopping at Mabel's to pick out 25 pieces of penny candy. I go home, paper bag crunched in my hand, and I wait for the 12 O'clock train whistle that tells me Grandpa is coming home for lunch.

5 comments:

by Johanna Brandvik said...

these posts are gems!

Iguana Banana said...

Johanna
I am going to be in Reeder very soon. I am traveling with Alanna and Sara! I am so excited. Wish you could come, too. Miss you so much!
Ahna

Iguana Banana said...

Johanna
I am going to be in Reeder very soon. I am traveling with Alanna and Sara! I am so excited. Wish you could come, too. Miss you so much!
Ahna

by Johanna Brandvik said...

oh, what a special trip!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Ahna - what fun to read about reeder - I'm working with pete - or rather, pete's working for me and we both wish we could hop in a car and drive back for the reunion. I have a picture of both the bank and one of the ones from David Nyre of the giants - I can send them to you if you want to post them - let me know and hope you're well.

Love you -

David.