Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Remembering Fanny

Feeling Sentimental About Fanny
(Repost from Granite in my Blood)

Fanny White was the lady who worked cleaning my grandmother's large home when I was a little girl. Her name was Mrs. Fanny White and she was black. 

She probably came to clean twice a month. I think she took the bus and as part of the agreement, my grandmother fed her a hot lunch. I remember that she liked Chicken a la King. I have no idea why I remember that.

Now, you can imagine that I had a lot of questions. To a small white girl, Fanny's color and her name did not seem to work out as sensible! The next door neighbors to my grandmother, were named Brown and they were white. That caused confusion in my child's mind. 

I can see Fanny sitting at the dining room table, newspapers spread all around, polishing the silver tea service. The polish was pink. However, all I can see in my mind, is Fanny's hands smeared with the pink goo. I wish I could remember what she looked like. If the weather was bad, my grandmother would drive her home. I used the RI City Directories to find her and I am comfortable saying that this is her because of the miracle of technology. After finding this in the Providence City directory (1952) for 656 Hope St. I compared the house (which I can see with the street view) and see the church view across the street. I went with them so I know this is the right place.

The church sticks in my mind because it resembles the one near my grandparent's home where my parent's were married. Today it is the Episcopal Diocese of RI. According to the city directory, notice that The Church of the Redeemer doesn't have a telephone and neither does Fanny. The home of John Russell was the nearest one with a phone (which is why I included it). I can't imagine not having a telephone but my mother told me that we did not have one until just after I was born.

I can still hear my grandmother laugh when I asked after taking her home, "Does Fanny have a husband and kids?" Since neither my grandmother nor my mother worked, you can see why I wondered this. My grandmother told me she did  have a husband but her children were grownups. So, she must have been near the age of my grandmother but I don't know anything else about her. She was just a great person.

When I got my first iRobot cleaning robot, I named her Fannie after this delightful lady of my past. While she is cleaning I talk to her just as I must have done with the real Fanny. I can still hear my grandmother telling me not to bother her while she was working so to keep her memory alive, I promise to let her alone and do her work. She's a big help. My grandsons love to play with my cleaning robot.

Remembering Mrs. Fanny White. I hope she doesn't mind having a robot named after her.

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