Fun and games at Mammy 'Nett's
By Linda Koehler
I was having a Mammy 'Nett moment the other day. That's when I got all nostalgic about my memories of my dearly departed grandmother and grandfather, Hazel and Paul Wernett of Albrightsville.
It all started when I heard someone say something about the "pop ups" that come on our computers. For some reason, I immediately thought about my grandmother's Pop Bead necklaces.
Remember Pop Beads? Those plastic beads that had a little knob on one end and a hole on the other and you could push a bead into each other and they made a little popping sound?
Well, Mammy 'Nett had several of those necklaces. And we loved playing with them when we were kids. And what were we doing in her bedroom playing with her jewelry?
I think I've told you before, my grandparents had eight kids. On any given Sunday, at least four to six of them came to visit, bringing spouses and kids. Their house was not that big. So, the women hung out in the kitchen, some women and most men were in the dining room playing Penny Ante Poker, and there was usually at least one of the dads sleeping in the living room. That left only a few places for us kids to play ... outside (no matter the weather,) the curtained-off cubbyhole (Mammy's pantry) or my grandparents' bedroom. It had the access to the attic (another cool cubby hole) and it was the one spot sure to get Mammy to holler at us for something.
We were a lot like those "Five Little Monkeys Jumping On the Bed." Downstairs it must have sounded like one or two of us fell off and bumped our heads to Mammy because it was almost inevitable we'd hear several times, "You kids! Stop jumping around on the bed!" We'd yell, "OK!" and go back to doing whatever we were doing before she yelled.
On Mammy's dresser was her collection of Pop Bead necklaces and we cousins loved playing with them. We'd sit for hours, pulling them apart, mixing up the colors and making our own designs. When we were finished, we had to make sure they were just as we found them.
Mammy wore one of her Pop Bead necklaces every time she got dressed up to go somewhere.
My sister Diane remembers the first time she saw them come apart, she thought Mammy's necklace was broken. The other thing she remembers is they didn't look like a toy on Mammy. They looked like real jewelry.
But that didn't stop her from playing with them like they were a toy. We even had our own Pop Beads at home. Diane had a thing for sticking stuff up her nose so it was no surprise when she came to me crying one day because she had one up her nose and couldn't get it out. We were at our other grandmother's, Laura Smith, and Mammy pulled it out with a tweezer. One time she stuck a nickel up there. Today she wonders why her nostrils are so big. Well, duh.
When Mammy passed away, Diane was the one who asked to have Mammy's Pop Beads. She keeps them stored in a box with other precious and treasured items. She has six necklaces in purple, red, orange, yellow, light green, dark green and white.
Do they still make Pop Beads today?
The other Mammy 'Nett toy I was remembering wasn't really a toy but a game. Uncle Wiggly. I loved that game! I've since learned that it is based on a series of children's books by Howard Roger Garis.
There was something about old Uncle Wiggly Longears who suffered from rheumatism. He encountered all kinds of adventures on his way to Dr. Possum's house for a remedy. Along the way he'd meet forest friends and foes with crazy names that appealed to my imagination, like Pipsisewah, Skeezicks, Skillery Skallery Alligator, Nurse Jane Fuzzy Wuzzy, Lulu, Alice and Jimmie Wibblewobble, Charlie and Arabella Chick, Jackie and Peetie Bow-Wow and more.
You read Rabbit Verse Cards to move along like "Five hops, or jumps as you prefer, And then look back to where you were." Throughout the forest you land on spaces like the Alligator's Den, the Rabbit Hole or the Cluck Cluck Chicken House, which may direct you to lose turns or go back spaces. "Peetie Bow Wow helps Uncle Wiggly along four hops."
Mammy's game was very old and had four metal bunnies painted red, green, yellow and blue. Unfortunately, I have no clue what happened to it after my grandparents passed away.
What's cool, I played this game with my daughter and it's still sold today.
Another game that was played at Mammy 'Nett's' was Penny Ante Poker. But that was only for the adults. I think I already told you about my Pappy's temper. When he'd be on a losing streak, he'd take it only so long and then throw the deck of cards across the table yelling "G D- skin game!" He'd stomp off, go roll a cigarette, smoke it, calm down and come back to the table. One time he got so mad at the cards he got up, opened the coal stove door and threw them in the fire. He was a pistol!
I miss those Sundays at Mammy 'Nett's. It's amazing how one little word like "pop" can lead to a pleasant and nostalgic trip down Memory Lane.