I remember driving to it, sitting in the backseat of the car with my parents in the front. I remember holding the sea blue-green seashell shaped Polly Pocket compact (which I later learned was the 1989 Polly’s Beach House model) that I had just received, marveling at the tiny little Polly figure (I’ve always loved miniatures). I let Polly explore her apartment as we drove to my grandma Ruth’s (Little Grandma, as I called her) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I knew we were close when the car bump bumped along the brick road where her apartment building was; a feeling that always elicited excitement because it meant we were almost there. She lived on a upper floor and the internal staircase was made of metal or iron…or something that clanged like hollow bells and echoed throughout the enclosed space when you walked on it (I was slightly wrong about this; my mom tells me the stairs were actually wood, but they did echo when you walked on them because of the enclosed space). I have memories of arriving at night when everything was dark, including the stairwell, and trying to walk up as quietly as possible with my parents and our luggage despite the stairs announcing our entrance.
The memories of my grandma’s apartment are foggy, like looking through steamed glass, but they’re there and if I scrub hard enough maybe I can see them. Between the bedroom towards the front and the kitchen in the back was the living room. I don’t remember her bedroom at all, just its location. I slept on a cot set up for me there when we visited. I do remember the living room vaguely and sitting on the couch (I think it was brown or rust colored; my mom later mentioned when I asked her that it was actually a bed used as a couch) watching Jem and the Holograms for the first time on the TV. I was enchanted by a tiny figurine of a deer Grandma had (my mom remembers my love for the deer, too. She added that it was missing a leg). I think it sat in a plant in the hallway, surrounded by foliage. I seem to remember a door off of the kitchen that led on to a small outdoor porch and some external stairs that went down from that.
As I was writing this, I decided to look up the address and plugged it into Google Earth. It brought up a thin, tall 3 story red brick building sidled up against another tan colored 3 story home, with power lines looming low in front of them,; not exactly what I remembered (in my mind it was bigger and more of an apartment building than a house – my mom does confirm it was a house and Little Grandma lived on the top floor). The red brick street that I loved bump bumping on in the car stretched all the way down the block.
I was maybe nine years old when she left the apartment in Pittsburgh and came to live with us. Her room was the former guest bedroom next to mine. I’d go in to see her at night and we’d sit on her pink and white rose patterned bedspread and watch I Love Lucy on her little bedroom TV. She loved Perry Como and had a lot of his cassette tapes on her dark mahogany bookshelf. A dark brown bedside table, that matched the bookshelf, with a doily on it sat by the bed and a white wicker chair with a plush cushion sat beside that. It was a cheery room and I loved nighttime after dinner when we would spend our time together. I was her only grandchild and, though my memories of our time together are fuzzy, I know there was a lot of love there. I still have the stuffed toy lamb she gave me (which I dubbed Little since it was a gift from my Little Grandma, you see). My daughter has Little now in her small room with sea green walls like my Polly Pocket, the room almost an exact model of my own room as a child. Some things never change. She gives Little a lot of hugs and love, just like my Little Grandma gave me.
Left: My beloved first Polly Pocket compact; Right: A Google Earth screenshot of the house today.