Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Mary Ponzurick

To many, the name Mary Ponzurick doesn't ring a bell. Even most people who still live in Smock don't remember Mary. But I do. She was my mother's mother. Grandma.

My first recollections of Mary were when I was just a skinny kid who could almost fit into a water bucket.

Mom & Dad and I lived in the same house as Fred, Mary, Fritzie, Sissy, Junie and Picky. Not to mention Susie, their orange tabby cat. We had all of the luxuries. TWO coal burning furnaces, connected by a common chimney. One was in the kitchen and one was in the living room. But our bathroom was about 40 feet down a narrow footpath behind the back of the house.

Many have used the following phrase as a joke but I actually lived it. I took a bath on Saturday night whether I needed it or not. And since we didn't have such a thing as a bathroom, we went to Grandma's house which was only two rows and two houses away from us. We used to cut through Mr. & Mrs. Olesh's yard on the way to Grandma's and it was always nice to speak to them. Mr. Olesh aways occupied a glider but Mrs. Olesh knitted in a hard backed chair. It seems like she always knitted so I thought that she was knitting a cover for a battleship. What did I know?

We'd get to Grandma's on Saturday where she was usually in the kitchen making the beginnings of Sunday's dinner while listening to "My Larry". To you and I, that was Lawrence Welk but Grandma really made him her own. Between the holoupki rolls, she'd dart out from the kitchen if she heard her Larry introduce Norma Zimmer (The Champagne Lady) or Big Tiny Little on piano (the predecessor of "Choanne" Castle).

She had a true claw foot bathtub with a rubber stopper. She also had ACTUAL hot water that didn't have to be made that way on the stove. When I sat in that thing, the water actually came up to my neck. I NEVER wanted to get out. And I was always amazed that there was this ring around the tub following my bath. I knew I didn't cause it to be there since my bath from last week was still going strong.

I was Grandma's scribe. She used to write letters to her sister, Mary Carnot, but since her hands were a bit shaky, she'd have me write the letters. They always started "Dear Sis, just a few lines to let you know that everyone here is all right". But then she'd launch into Grandpap's drinking and gossip heard in my Aunt Helen's beauty shop. There was always an edible reward for writing these letters for her.

She taught me so much by example. Go to church every day if you could, take a bath now and then, eat pork on New Year's Day, and wear good shoes or your feet will be mangled and eventually fall off.

I only took up the Irish whistles years after she had died but if I had played them in the 1950's, she would have probably willed her entire house to me and everything in it. She was one for the music.

Many people used to say "Mary, if you don't stop eating that jelly bread and butter and all of that kolatch, you're going to have a heart attack". Their warnings came to pass and she died. At an even 100 years old. I could still hear her laughing about all of those admonitions.

Mary Ponzurick was one of the sweetest women I have ever had the pleasure to know. She had these cataract glasses that made her look like an alien, honest to God blue hair, hearing aids in both ears, a wearer of "rouge" and Avon's "Here's My Heart", a polka fancier and a true lover of Larry Welk. She even tolerated her husband Andy's monthly four day binge at Bortz's tavern. (Mary knew that he earned it; he was a retired coal miner).

Today, I have this vision of Mary sitting on the front porch of a red tiled house in Heaven. Grandpap's in the living room watching the Pirates and nursing an Iron City while Bob Prince calls the plays. She's in that old green rocking chair and St. Francis is there by her side with a pen and paper.

"Dear God, just a few lines to let you know that everything here is all right."

No comments: