In 1937, Mom and Luella worked at the same place; stylish Luella was a little older and became Mom’s ideal, ranking right up there with Jeanette MacDonald and Ginger Rogers in Mom’s eyes.
Years passed. Jeanette and Ginger gave way to clotheslines and Bab-O. Mom had two teenagers when new neighbors moved in next door — it was Luella and her family! Mom couldn’t believe it! Luella lived there for a long time and became a part of my later growing-up years. I tried to picture her as the lovely young woman who captured my mother’s girlish admiration but it was hard: Luella was a comet, a streak of energy, the blur who lived next door — who could tell what she looked like?
Apparently, though, there were times she stood still; she gave us pickles to prove it. Luella’s pickles were wonderful. Even more wonderful, she gave me her pickle recipe, handwritten on a card I still have. That she thought I could make her pickles was enough to make me boastful, and I was touched by her faith in me. She was right, too: many batches have I made, remembering her and Mom with every one, and, for a little while, with Captain Kangaroo in the background.
Now I am the older neighbor, though no blur. It is my responsibility to pass along this briney gesture, so last week I gave some of my young neighbors jars of Luella’s pickles, recipe and story attached. These young people live in a world of iThis and iThat, Higgs bosons, clones. Jeanette MacDonald? Who? Clotheslines? What? Time passes, things change, children morph into parents, grass grows, leaves fall: this we know. But good pickles and memories of good neighbors are forever.