I was a kid in the 70s. We lived on the two narrow blocks between the north beach and the inlet at Gardner’s Basin. Friday nights were bustling with the various events hosted just a few blocks away. But Saturdays? That was a whole other animal.
Our house was the tallest on the block—not for stature, but for function. The street level was our basement (because of frequent flooding) and it eluded to the majestic goings-on inside. Whatever happened outside our house was separate from our rituals. The music, the food, and the way the children were raised.
Saturday mornings began with mom playing one of her favorite albums. No radio, no auto reverse cassettes. Record player LPs—the kind she had to gently place the needle on to hear the crackle of every single song. It would play about 4 songs before she’d have to return the needle to the beginning “track”. No wonder some of those songs are ingrained in my spirit!
I don’t recall the aroma of coffee though. Probably because caffeine was banned in our house. My mom subscribed to some old “wives tale” that caffeine would stunt my growth. I dunno.
Instead, the fragrance of buttermilk pancakes and sizzling bacon filled the house. My brothers had already started their chores. As the youngest, sleeping in translated to maximizing tasks before breakfast was ready. It was a team effort. Much like when my brothers delivered the Atlantic City Press. I stayed coddled in the back seat of our Volkswagen Beetle until my brothers would summon me to maximize their tips. My brothers were the worker bees and my mom was the queen bee. I was the cute bee.
The moment my feet hit the floor, my mission was to eat, pray, and love. Not necessarily in that order, the comforts of my home came from family. Chuck Mangione merely provided the musical score. Herb Albert, often sampled by PDiddy and Bad Boy Entertainment, resounded over and over as we cleared the table and swept the floors.
While the neighborhood kids began to spill out onto the streets, Adriatic Avenue was our block. Mr Arthur next door brought his moped from the back ally. Ms. Florence across the street began hanging her linens on her back porch. But in our home we found respite. In our home, we were together. Love looks differently in every home. In our home, there was no comparison. Everything we had, everything we knew came from mom. If it was bizarre, we didn’t know.
Cows milk mixed with powdered milk. Warm Alga syrup for the pancakes and biscuits. FayGo Soda hidden away for mom’s consumption only. The slight hint of incense (or some other natural herb) and the thump of 70s R & B—all with the spiritual objective of moving us from one end of our kingdom to the other.
By noon, many of our tasks had been completed. Each of us began to focus on our own projects. My brothers meeting up with their crew of peers down the street. My dad stopping by after a week with his other family. My mom prettying herself for a weekend of reprieve. None of it made sense when I was a kid, but some of it has more meaning now.
Forty years later, my feet hit the floor differently. My toes aimed at the ceiling for hours prior to getting out of bed. My fingers scroll the multitude of apps until I arrive at my YouTube playlist. Chuck Mangione’s timeless classic Feels So Good fills my en-suite. No fragrances. No one else in my home, kids all grown, and left to my own resources for breakfast. Good morning. Happy Saturday.