Thank you, Linda, for giving me a topic to write about, wound around my ancient life.
My great grandparents had the wisdom to buy some ocean front property on Cape Cod in 1879 for 25 hundred dollars.. It was listed as plus or minus 7 acres. It turned out to be 13 acres. You don’t even want to know what it would be worth today. My great-great grandfather taught school in NYC, so had summers to recuperate and enjoy the Cape. His wife, Lucy, is another story. I wrote some time ago about her cutting silhouettes. The stories are combined, in that her silhouettes, and the white top copies, were glued to the inside of the barn on the property many years ago, and to my knowledge are still there.
Over the years various members of the family have built summer houses on that 13 acres. A few cousins still summer there. My grandfather built a house in 1909 for his family. It had nine bed rooms, all facing the water but was unfinished on the inside. It was like a huge cabin. Grandpa had four children and they had maids in that era to cook and clean.
My Grandpa, Granny and my family, have, therefore, enjoyed the house on the Cape for many years . My dad spent summer weekends coming to Cotuit and my mother spent the weekdays with just us two kids and Jeanette who had cared for us when Momie had TB and was in a hospital for several years. When the war came and Jeanette joined the WAVES, Momie anticipated being alone in that huge house. She asked a good friend and her kids to join her for the summer, and thus Marge became a second mother and Judy and Jeff became summer siblings. Judy was five years younger than me and Jeff was an infant, younger than me by ten years, when they first started coming. For a while, a teen age babysitter came to be with Jeff.
Marge and Momie shared the housekeeping chores. Momie was the cook. Marge was in charge of cleaning and would rally the kids to do the daily housekeeping chores. We even had competitions as to whether the pantry dishes or the kitchen pots and pans should be washed and put away first. The dads and sometimes grandpa came on the weekends. Granny, (my grandmother,) had built herself a small cottage on the beach. Various aunts and friends would also show up from time to time. The weekends were always full. It was the weekdays that was just the two moms and us kids.
As time went by, I found it easier to do what Marge asked me to do, and years later, I learned that Judy would do anything my mom asked of her. I think they must have realized this dynamic. The summers moved along well. There was joking and laughing as the various chores were completed. I recall the two moms sitting around the kitchen table every morning, planning the menu and who would be arriving and who would sleep where. There were summers when my grandfather fostered a boy a few years younger than me, and he shared in the chores and the fun. Summer was fun. In my memory Marge made it fun. It was also because there were more kids than grownups.
And here is where “gudgies” come in. There was a summer hotel a few blocks up the street that had an ice cream shop as a part of it. Some afternoons, when things were dull and we all needed a boost of energy, Marge would proclaim it was “gudgie” day. We would all put on shoes (street walking required shoes which the pine paths to the beach did not) and we would invade the ice cream shop for gudgies. After the first visit of the summer the college kids, who manned the shop, understood what a gudgie was: ice cream, chocolate sauce, marshmallows, whip cream and a cherry on top. We would slurp it all up and head for home. I was always the last one done and often had to run fast to join the crowd headed back home. Ice cream was cold on my teeth, and besides, why rush through a gudgie.
Summer would end and we would pack up and return to our winter lives and Marge, became Mrs. Harmon. We would be reminded that summer rules were over and winter rules were to start. We would wave goodbye to the summer as we drove over the Sagamore bridge and prepare ourselves for the school season, knowing happily, there was always next summer.