down home is an expression our family uses to describe the babikow greenhouse homestead in Baltimore.
it’s the place many of us grew up, worked and moved away from. it’s the place we went back to when life hurt us and we needed an oasis of warmth family and solidarity.
my mom was the first-born, her brother buzz was a year and a half behind her. dave and paul came a bit later.
the greenhouse complex was a fabulous adventure to explore as a child. there was, at this time, piles of coal to climb on and get filthy with. piles of soil freshly mixed and sterilized, a monorail to fly down, roofs to climb up on. all of us,my mom included , receive many warnings from older uncles not to touch certain items like the key in the tractor or walk on the glass roof.
summers ment lots of fun, plus getting stung by bees, stepping on nails and getting scolded constantly.
this is the place where we all fell in love with plants and their magic. my earliest memories there are being about 4 feet high just bench level and walking into a greenhouse house of snap dragons ready for cutting towering five feet or so above my head. the smell was intoxicating and it drew me in to the wonder of plants. the packing room was filled with buckets of freshly cut flowers waiting to be packed and shipped of to Washington d.c. or Baltimore or Philadelphia.
for my mom one of her fondest memories was, one i also had latter, to drive out on a delivery with her father. this was great fun to ride in a wabbly chair positioned in the cab of this, bread truck style, truck. and eat some of the goodies her mom sent to eat. jelly sandwiches where the ticket then. but it was very cool to stop at white castles for burgers. the top of tops though was to deliver flowers to Lexington market and get a steamed pastrami on rye with melted swiss cheese. yum.
after my mom went off to school and graduated from college down home took on new meanings.
the summer of her graduation from Taylor UNiversity she was enjoying a car ride in Michigan with her fiance Bob Schneider. she was visiting his family in Michigan. on a road approaching a 4 way stop, bob saw another car running the stop sign , bob was able to jump from the car but my mom got caught by her hair and was hurt very badly. she broke her neck and receive a paralysis on her left side that affected her walking and her left hand movement the rest of her life.
after a summer in traction and much surgery in a Michigan hospital, she went back home. there she had a hospital bed in the dinning room and persevered through much pain and determination to learn how to walk again.
my grand father , her dad, would carry a platform rocker out to the front porch where they would play catch.woth a balled- up sock’
this dinning room she was rehabilitating in became the dining room later that she would be living in and recuperating just after my birth and much later the place i would be reading her mother , my grand mom psalms as she took her last breaths.
to be continued……