Grandmother guarded me by extending her arm across my chest, her other arm waved at the oncoming bus.
It never began this way, we waited for hours on the second floor flat facing Seneca Street, staring at Van Vranken Avenue; oh, I would get restless – staring at my black patent leather shoes, rolled down socks of white with a fringe of lace. . .
Finally, Grandmother told me, “It’s time.” So we walked one block down Seneca Street, and waited, again.
I would get restless on the corner, my feet danced on concrete pavement in front of a shoe repair store – I kept swinging around green painted posts as my arms moved up and down as if I were flying, I always wanted to have wings like a bird.
Grandmother watched; she had the patience of a Saint. She had little else – alone since my Father was ten, when her husband never told her what was really wrong – dying in their bed, on Monday, alone. It took me years to learn why, and what – like growing wings, I never gave up. So – around and around, wasting time on the corner, waiting for the bus – that’s when Grandmother squeezed my shoulder, perhaps, to calm me down. I knew the corner lot – in front of a public place, was not my play space. Grandmother, she never had to say a word, her eyes spoke.
When the bus arrived Grandmother took my hand as she guided my steps up and onto the giant bus. One foot, the other. . . One foot, the other. . . It took longer for little people to board a bus. I often thought, why older people had no patience when it came to children, remembering those who rode the bus down street – had eyes that stared at little people, who may have touched the back of their seat, or talked louder, asked questions as they peered out the huge windows . . . Crossing trolley tracks, bumps – older people were now chasing shopping bags up and down the aisle of those green and yellow buses.
The ride on the bus; seated next to Grandma happened once a week. My body bounced up and down over the road while Grandmother, she clung to her black purse. I heard the people muttering, still complaining, if the driver of the bus hit a pot hole, or made a wide turn onto Nott Street, or sped down a wide street which once was the Erie Canal. If the driver stopped to quickly in traffic, they forgot about the children, as their attention swayed now hollering at the driver – he never saw their eyes.
Most of the women or men faced forward, never looking at me – even if I smiled at them. I had to learn, not everyone smiled, not everyone had the same feelings about life – or living, and the times were so different, or were they?
Grandmother stood, she pulled this white rope near the top of the bus when it was time for us to get off . . . our legs wobbled from side to side as we crept up the aisle one more time, and the eyes returned, so did the silence. They disliked a child bracing themselves by touching the backs of the seats on the bus – or when you were wobbling – kicked on of their shopping bags – their eyes grew larger.
It was all fun, watching people, remembering today their emotions as I kept on smiling, asking questions – it happened like clockwork, her touch on my shoulder, falling toward a strangers seat, the exit doors open, a wind hits your face and you step off the bus on Jay Street, in front of Woolworths – where Grandmother purchased my stripped cookies of Chocolate, Vanilla, and Strawberry between wafers . . . and she smiled.