To The Editor,
When it’s very cold out, instead of putting a scarf around my neck, I wear it over my head and tied under the chin as a covering for my ears. This brings to mind my grandmother, who wore a scarf in this fashion. Sometimes she would refer to it as a “babushka”. I remember overhearing my father chiding her for using this term: I guess he thought people might think that she was Russian, or worse, a “fellow scarfer”. Such were the gray flannel fifties.
This is a sad memory, but also an ironic one. In her working years she was the private secretary to a vice-president of EBASCO, the Electric Bond And Share Company, a holding company so big that General Electric was just a part of it. Old-school capitalism at its finest.
It amuses me to imagine my “red” granny marshalling the masses for an assault on Wall Street, scarf on high, an oriflamme of defiance. Actually, she would have been quite an asset to the Revolution. She spoke several languages and was a good organizer and manager. After my grandfather insisted on returning to Puerto Rico, she stayed on in New York with their two sons. I once asked my father what it was like growing up in the Depression. He said that it never really touched them. As for the Revolution, the Trust Busters got there first: the regulator is mightier than the sword.
Clearing the driveway, bundled against the cold, I think of my grandmother and her “babushka”. I can smile now at my father’s chiding; it brings to mind Delacroix’s painting of Liberty leading the People at the barricades. In my vision though, Liberty’s blouse is primly buttoned. My grandmother was as modest in her attire as she was about her life’s accomplishments.