Orange you glad I didn’t say banana

My mother was a bright woman, both figuratively and literally. While it might be impolite to comment on her figure, I intend to discuss an aspect of such–without disregard of how incredibly brilliant she was too.

At some point during my childhood in the late 1960’s, she redecorated the house in which I was raised. While I can’t remember the exact year, the ensuing results among which I lived  until I left for college in 1980, shine like a beacon in my memory.

The front of the house was painted half black and half goldenrod. The front door was bright orange. That’s how we’d tell people to find our house, “5081 Somerset Street–with the orange front door.”  Neighbors called it “The Halloween House,” not ‘cuz it was spooky, but because of the thematic colors. It certainly was not because they thought that any of us resembled witches or pumpkins or ghouls.

Gershun girls with ma in front of somerset house2

A favorite spot for family photos, our orange front door is the backdrop for this portrait of me and my sisters posed with our paternal grandmother, Selma Gershun.

 

What became increasingly apparent  upon  entry into our humble abode is that my mother loved the color orange. The wallpaper in the front entry could only be described as a refined version of some far out, stained glass pattern in bright oranges and amber tones with black borders.

entry way

Further inside, above the bookcase that held the beginnings of her nutcracker collection, along the far wall of the  family room, next to the T.V.,  was a poster that said, “Peanut Butter is Love. Spread Some Around Today.” The font was that groovy, bell bottoms 60’s style and the letters were browns and tans and (you guessed it) orange.

Peanut Butter is Love

Beckoning from the center of the room was the main attraction,  the piece d’resistance, the family room couches. These famous, orange vinyl sofas flashed prominently right in the middle of the parlor as well as sparkle somewhere in the center of my childhood memories.

As I hinted earlier, my mother was smart. As a decorator she was able to combine practicality and style.  She liked to keep a reasonably orderly and clean-ish home. She had three children who trooped in and out of the house with neighborhood friends on a daily basis. Our small hairy dog was a beloved family member, allowed on the furniture and in our beds. Vinyl was the perfect answer to her sofa decorating needs. If we spilled milk, smeared peanut butter or left cracker crumbs, she could wipe down the couch in an instant with no stain left behind to tell the tale.

Kelly, our dog

Kelly, our dog, on the famous orange vinyl couch.

When the dog did her circus trick by walking along the upper edge of the back of the couch, perfectly balanced on the narrow edge, it was no big deal. My mother’s carefully appointed decorating scheme was designed to be comfortable, easy to clean as well as an expression of  her original and lively spirit. Orange was her spoken color.

table cloth

Notice the orange table-cloth!

Little Lorrie

She even picked orange for our clothes!

Her habit of applying lipstick at the end of every meal that used to try my patience and annoy me to no perceivable end has transformed into a fond memory, a family joke between me and my sisters. Even as adults, long finished with our own meals, her daughters were expected to wait until she was done with hers. We knew that the meal was finally over when she took a last sip of coffee, opened her purse and pulled out the orange lipstick. She applied it with careful precision, readying her otherwise clean aspect to be seen in public.

Gloria

While not in color, you can see that from a young age her bright smile lit up her beaming countenance.

My mother didn’t wear make-up, but she did not step outside of the house with bare lips. Her bright smile was the shining feature of her open and cheerful face and the lipstick outlined her vivacious and animated grin.

smile

My teenage rebellion appeared in many forms, my refusal to wear lipstick among them. Instead, I experimented with eyeshadow and foundation, mascara and eyeliner, but left my lips bare–much to my mother’s chagrin.

As most young, impetuous women of my generation, I was determined not to be like my mother. Of course we all know how that story goes, famous last words. Little did I know that I was kind of putting my foot in my mouth, or maybe hers.

I did not see even a faint resemblance to her in my penchant for choosing bright colors when I decorated my own room, painting the walls “Lemon yellow and lime green,” later picking bedding and curtains with rainbows and wearing my favorite red, cowl neck sweater as often as possible. I couldn’t help being outgoing and animated, just like her.

Little did I know that it was the beginning of my inevitable transformation. I have become another version of my  mother in many way. Lately you can spell it just like the color: O R A N G E!

It started innocently enough. I went to Target to get a bath mat to match one of the colors in our shower curtain and there it was-bright orange and fluffy and soft. Perfect. After that, orange hand towels appeared on each of the racks in both the master and guest bathrooms.

It has spiraled from there. If you take a peek into my closet, it seems that I have adopted the phrase from that Netflix show “Orange is the New Black.” Many of my dresses and shirts and shoes and even purses have a touch of orange. My iPhone case is orange as is the sleeve in which my Kindle rests. I did not do this on purpose. I swear. It just seems to have happened that orange has become my “Go To” color.

  IMG_0606 IMG_1595

IMG_1549 DSC_0358

As cheerful and smiley as I tend to be, I still don’t wear lipstick, except for on special occasions. I rarely reapply. But it’s been years since I’ve gone without a pedicure. My toenails are always decorated. In Hawaii, we wear sandals all year long. One simply must put her best foot forward. For the longest time I only used a natural color, but lately I’ve changed. You guessed it, I choose a bright orange polish, kind of making me like my mom from head to toe.

IMG_2954

While writing this blog post I did a quick search of the internet for what a favorite color choice says about a person. What does orange say about me? my mom? I was pleased to read the descriptions and found myself comfortable with the adjectives: social, adventurous, warm and cheerful, outgoing and kind. Sounds good to me.

If it is inevitable that I am going to be like my mother, at least it turns out to be generally bright and sunny. Orange you glad? I certainly am.

14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Aunt Judy
    Mar 30, 2014 @ 14:24:31

    Lorrie.. I just loved this writing and family pictures. I find for myself too. as conservative as I am with color, I am finding myself moving to brighter colors. I guess there are extremes in everything.. but I admire your mom for being able to express herself through color, and as she chose to do it.

    Reply

  2. Being Jewish in Hawaii
    Mar 30, 2014 @ 18:24:09

    Hi Aunt Judy, thanks for reading. Yes, my mother certainly expressed herself. Usually quite clearly! I am pleased to report that more often than not it was as bright and cheerful as the color orange. Aloha and love from all of us.

    Reply

  3. Dolores
    Mar 30, 2014 @ 21:14:27

    Loved it, Lorraine..Now I know where you get your color sense and spark from.

    Reply

  4. Eric
    Mar 31, 2014 @ 01:34:44

    Your description of the inevitable transformation is wonderful as always – I shake my head and smile a bit when I catch myself “being” my dad. Cheers from the F2 house..

    Reply

  5. Suzanne Cochran
    Mar 31, 2014 @ 02:35:25

    OH, my! Such lovely memories!! Those orange couches… the front door. The Gershun Girls when they were little. Such fun to relive them and see the pictures of all of you, especially Gloria. How I miss her. Love, Suzy

    Reply

  6. jmerl2014
    Mar 31, 2014 @ 02:42:54

    The orange doesn’t fall far from the tree.

    Reply

  7. Paula Suiso
    Mar 31, 2014 @ 18:25:49

    My dearest Meringue,
    I love this…started my Monday off with the warmest, orangest kind of smile. Having met your mom on a few occasions and being happy recipient of some articles from Gloria’s Closet, colorful and lively things, it’s so good to learn more about her…and in essence, about you.
    I only have one more remark to make…”oranges, smoranges…who said it?”

    Reply

  8. ruthtberg
    Dec 13, 2014 @ 15:33:04

    Dear Lorraine,

    What a lovely memoir! I found it while scrolling through your facebook page, trying — just by looking at your smiling face — to motivate myself . Even in that picture of the three Gershun girls with your grandmother, your smile is infectious. Looking at your effervescent self gives me courage to — as Garrison Keillor says — “do what has to be done”.

    I, as you know, have always loved orange, and my apartment and wardrobe are both largely orange. So — even though I didn’t know that I shared this affinity with your mother — I trust that in visiting, last summer, you felt the warm and comforting feeling of love.

    You are such a nice writer, in addition to being a fun and genuine friend. I’m sure your mother would have enjoyed, even kvelled, in reading your memoir.

    Yours,
    Ruth

    Reply

    • Being Jewish in Hawaii
      Dec 14, 2014 @ 17:39:47

      Dear Ruth, So nice to see you here too. Thank you for reading. Yes, was thrilled by the orange in your apartment and your mother’s home as well. I love your hospitality even more. It was such a wonderful visit. It gave me the inspiration to paint a wall in our renovated bedroom bright orange and I love it. I hope you will come visit and see. Love, Lorrie

      Reply

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