Bottled and Tagged

This morning, grateful it was so warm, I stood and watched 2 squirrels play tag.

Did someone just say Susannah get a life?

Was that nice?

It’s a wonderful thing to stop and observe nature. It’s calming and tranquil and these 2 guys were hilarious to boot. You could almost see one tag the other as they switched who was it.

No, my post isn’t about squirrels but they did trigger a memory. My Auntie Ida, whom I loved, had a little squirrel nick-nack on her screened-in porch in Trumbull Connecticut. When I was little and got to spend the day with her that’s where I would play, out on the porch with that ceramic squirrel as my trusty confidant. I couldn’t have been more than 5.

I loved visiting her because she was so much fun. She’s the kind of aunt every kid should have. She always made you think there wasn’t any age difference between you climbing down on the floor so you could speak girl to girl. If she knew that you wanted something she’d run out and buy it for you. This brings to mind a chocolate brown corduroy jumper with a red and white Dale Evans blouse. This arrived after I had told her my plans on being a cow girl.

She was hard of hearing so she talked at the top of her lungs. You always knew when Auntie Ida was in the house because all the animals would run and hide.

The bigger memory that Auntie Ida triggered was my beloved bottle collection. I’m talking a serious selection of containers and jars that she started for me so we could play ‘store.’ I had displays with every bottle you could think of and she and Tiger, her 200 pound Rhodesian Ridgeback, would come shop for all their cosmetic and medicinal needs.

I stocked everything from Alka-Selzer to olive oil. They were even priced and she’d show up on the porch in her hat and coat and actually pay me from her pocket book. I think my most expensive item cost a dime.

We would make believe Tiger was her husband.

I remembering loving my Noxema jars because they were blue, which then and now has always been my favorite color. I would try dissuading Tiger, who would knock my displays down by accident, not to buy any.”Could I interest you in some Bayer Aspirin instead Mr. Tiger?” He’d fart a little while his tail did minimal damage which I really didn’t mind since that meant I got to stack my shelves all over again. (That’s what happens when you feed a dog cheese ravioli rather than Alpo.)

I used my Aunt’s yellow ottoman to feature my special of the week which changed every 10 minutes: Ponds, Listerine, Welch’s Grape Jelly just to name a few that could be on sale at Susie’s Groceries.

I’d then bag every item that my aunt would immediately bring back (we pioneered recycling the 2 of us) so I could sell it to her all over again. Who needed Mattel when you had Auntie Ida.

My grandfather, who became a partner, convinced me to expand by adding a few cans to my stock so as I recall cannellini beans became a popular item.

When my store caught on, everyone saved me their bottles. I had boxes of them everywhere, not just at my aunt’s.

And you know what I’ve realized, I still save them. Not as many of course, but I have empty cosmetic jars under the bathroom sink and never buy anything that comes in plastic if I can help it. I’m a glass gal through and through.

See what watching a couple of squirrels play tag can do?

‘Olly Olly Oxen Free…’


About Susannah Bianchi

I'm just a girl who likes to write slightly on slant. I've had a career in fashion, dabbled in film and to be honest, I don't like talking about myself. Now my posts are another matter so I will let them speak for themselves. My eBooks, A New York Diary, Model Behavior: Friends For Life and Notes From A Working Cat can be found on Thanks.
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2 Responses to Bottled and Tagged

  1. Jeanette Hamilton says:

    Love this post! You’ve brought back so many happy memories. I used to adore playing store as a child. And what a wonderful aunt to play with you!! I’m not sure children really even know how to play like that any more. Thanks for the stroll down Memory Lane!


    • I’m always amazed at the clarity. I can’t tell you what happened yesterday but back then comes back in a furious flush.

      She was pretty wonderful. I was lucky. Just think Jeanette, our stores might have been competitors.


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