HANSON MONTGOMERY HAMMER — OR “GUM”

His nickname was “Gum” ( he hated his name, Hanson ) he was the Maintenance Man at Ravenwood Towers, in Falls Church Virginia for “many a year.” He did everything from Electricity to Plumbing, from Venetian blinds to hauling dead people out of one of the 365 unit apartment complex he took care of. ( no one else would think of doing such a task ) See, he was much more than a maintenance man, he was my grandfather on my mother’s side, a scrappy combination of German and Russian. He had a nice leather recliner and a console color TV. ( Seems I was almost always over for a visit), just inside my grandparent’s apartment, before you go into the living room, stood a white refrigerator, that was always filled with Coca-Cola, chocolate milk, and all kinds of goodies. My grandfather had quite the sweet tooth, my two brothers, sister and I were glad of it. It was our warm friendly, accommodating second home. I was the one that enjoyed the time they’re the most, as I could get away from my two brothers and sister whom I loved well enough, but I had started writing a little bit and I wanted the peace. Oftentimes, I would spend damn near the whole summer there, enjoying a nice swimming pool, plenty of friends, tennis, baseball, football, and often went up to a nice shopping center called Seven Corners. I remember going there with a friend named Dennis Cooper, if we had a few dollars between us, we knew we could have a good time. There was a Woolworths we loved to visit. Now, I look back and it seems like another life.

Anyway, seemed “something funny” was always happening at my grandparent’s apartment. My grandfather often found leftover furniture, clothes, and all kinds of items left behind upon the evacuation of some of the tenants. My grandmother and I used to ride the service elevator in the evening, stopping on each floor, to see if anybody had left any unwanted items for us to look over and take home if we wanted to.

Most of these stories happened in times around 1965 to the early 70s, if I remember correctly. One funny story I have never forgotten is the time I came visiting, and the air seemed thick with trouble. After stopping at the refrigerator and getting a drink I came into the living room and saw my grandfather with ( what I knew was an angry face) … I kept moving over to the dining room where my grandmother was sitting looking at me, shaking her head but not saying anything. I knew Gum and Mildred May ( My grandma’s name) were fighting. I knew not to say anything as I sat down, but noticed a cuckoo clock in a small trash can beside my grandmother’s chair, that had normally hung on the wall just behind her. Mildred May had complained so much about the cuckoo clock ( found in a vacated apartment by Gum) cuckooing and going off so much, that Gum came over and ripped the clock off the wall, stomped it on the floor, and threw it in the trash can; as the spring had been extended about four feet in the air, with a cockeyed bluebird hanging on the end of it. I just about cracked up laughing but knew I couldn’t let my grandfather hear me, so I snuck in the kitchen and hid for a while. Maybe more in another post. Frankie The Earthman.

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