Who Knew Grandpa Could Do That?

Granda Belle, Grandpa Morris (cigar in left hand) & me.

I was about 7 years old visiting my grandparents in New York City. Grandma Belle always took me shopping when I came for a visit, usually for school clothes or a special dress. As a reward for following her through the big New York department stores for hours, she took me to the toy department (maybe it was Macy's or Bonwit Teller) and let me pick out a doll.

I remember the counter where a sales lady stood, and behind her a wall of dolls on shelves going up to the ceiling. My eye was drawn immediately to a small nurse doll.

" I want that one!," I proclaimed.

I think it was that little blue cape that did it for me. It was like a superhero cape. I had to have it.

Nurse Nora

And so Nora was mine. I carried her everywhere as we continued to roam the big city, jumping on an off buses and walking down the busy upper west side avenues. (This was the 1960's, so it was a nice neighborhood, but not nearly the chic area it is today.)

Eventually we returned home and I proudly showed off my new doll to Grandpa Morris.

"Where's her little nurse hat?" he asked.

I was mortified. Nora's perfect little white nurse hat was gone.

Grandma must have been exhausted from the day at this point, but she agreed to take me back out to retrace our recent steps and see if we could find the lost hat.

Nora stayed safely on the couch in the apartment with Grandpa.

Morris & Belle. Again with the ever present cigar. (He lived to age 95, I'll have you know!)

We searched up and down West 79th Street, but of course there was no sign of the little hat. It was long gone. After about 30 minutes of scouring the sidewalks we gave up and headed for home. I was miserable. 

I remember walking into the apartment to deliver the disappointing news to Grandpa and seeing a sort of smug glint in his eye. He pointed to Nora, still sitting where I had left her on the couch.

There on Nora's head, was a perfect little white nurse's hat.

Confused, I ran to get a better look.

It was just the right shape and had a little length of elastic to hold it in place. It was perfect.

Grandpa had whipped it up from a piece of fabric from an old pillowcase, knowing that there was little chance we'd find the original lost hat out in the big city. 

"The elastic strap will help it stay on so you won't lose it," he said. 

Today the elastic is stretched out and the formerly white material has faded to a dingy brownish hue, but it remains a treasured possession. Proof that my cantankerous and often grouchy old grandpa had a heart of gold and a hidden talent with a needle and thread.

After he passed away in 1994 I kept his grey fedora. 

He always felt that one should really never leave the house without a hat.

He never did. 


And neither did Nora, thanks to him.

My daughter with Nora