Lunch-times with Nana were special, because, before eating our sammies, the three of us walked together, uphill a few houses, to the dairy, where Nana shouted us kids a bottle of fizzy each. My sister always picked green and me red.
We would watch Nana sitting on her one chair at her little table, from our bed perch drooling, because her banana sammies, were our most favorite in the whole world. Using her special, jaggedly edged, bread-knife, Nana sawed slices off the bread loaf as thinly as she could. Next was a layer of butter then the long thin slices of banana in neat rows were overlaid. Sometimes, Nana shouted herself her very own special treat. Her favorite sammie spread was teeny tiny little tins of delicious flavored meat-paste.
Nana loved her cards, mostly poker, but sometimes euchre, or patience. She entertained, and kept us quiet after lunch, trying to beat her at cards while listening to her stories, a mixture of family yarns, old fairy stories and true history. She knew lots about the royal family going way way back, and our families who came to New Zealand from England and Ireland.
Later in the afternoon we all walked into the city to the picture theater. Just around the corner in Marjery Banks street, was a funny smelling, men’s Barber and Tobacconist shop where we stopped over to buy Nana’s weekly Art Union ticket. Being heaps superstitious, she never wanted to miss out. Reckoning us kids would bring extra good-luck, Nana let us help pick out the ticket numbers, as long as there was a three and seven, her special numbers.
Also, to her way of thinking, just as important as the numbers was the ‘nom-de-plume’, (not your real name). She got us to think really hard to pick a really clever one to write on the ticket butt. If we won, it got put in the newspaper for everyone to see.
Every time the Barber shop man ducked in and out through his curtain flap, us kids were fascinated to catch glimpses of the, men’s only, world, out the back of the shop. The men were sitting up in a row of swiveling chairs, all bibbed-up, looking like frothy faced Father Christmases. I saw another Barber man dressed in a white coat, using a huge razor, he kept wiping on a towel, doing shaves and short back and sides haircuts. The haircuts were finished off and slicked down with lashings of Brylcream.
I remember Nana often saying, ‘when things look up’, or ‘when my ship comes home’, Coral, I’ll see everyone is alright’. In my head, I knew, to Nana this meant, when she won some money she would help us, because mum was having a hard time looking out for us kids. Whenever, Nana’s itchy hands played up, she rubbed her special cream into them, telling us, itchy palms meant money was coming your way. I always thought, how she could tell when it was a message and when it was just the plasticine rash from the factory.