My little sister Therese worked here for a lovely man named Jamie. She started working at the “Electric Candle” sometime in High School and travels through this little doorway pretty much made up a lot of her teenage years. She spent hours in the basement making candles and mixing the scents that combined were just an amazing sensory experience. Then she would come home from work (after school, after work, after one hell of a long day) and my Mother would wave her over to sit next to her on the couch in the living room. She just loved the scents would emanate from Therese, She wasn’t a hugger our Ma, she pretty much after 9 kids said “hands off” unless you needed medical attention, otherwise the stampede alone would have killed that tiny little thing. But I can still see her waving T. over and saying just how lucky she was to have such a hardworking daughter who always came home so cosy and wonderful smelling, and they would sit there quietly at the end of the couch with T. leaning up against Mommy’s side and Mommy reading her 18 ton book in her lap and smoking away, with an ashtray the size of a Wagon Wheel next to her, and T.’s little head of long hair tilted and cascading over her tired teen face dozing away by our Mommy’s side.
To give you a clue as to just how loving and cool our parents were (Dad was a police officer and Mom a nurse), I had people tell me later that the place Therese had worked was called a “Head Shop”. A Head Shop, I didn’t know what that meant…it meant it was a place you could buy papers, bongs, pipes stuff associated with pot. Of course you could also buy clothes, shoes, candles, jewelery and a raft of other stuff in here, by the looks of it even waterbeds! But the point is our Mom and Dad and how they loved, respected and trusted Therese and all us kids. A rare and wonderful thing in those days of “Hippies” and the “Archie Bunker” mentality, our parents were phenomenal. I can remember my friends being amazed that I was able to ask my Mom for birth control at 16, only because she told me if I ever needed it to let her know. She wasn’t afraid of the facts of life. And she made sure her daughters weren’t either.
The best…years later my sisters went on to work for the local courts, on the right side of the law, and I’ve gone on to write about them and their amazing lives. Who would have ever believed the Bailiff was a bartender and the Court Employee a candlemaker. That they would turn out like they did…for crissakes, as a child, Therese made Wednesday Adams look normal.
My sisters… I am so proud of them and the lives they lead and the stories they tell and the wonderful children they have raised and just who they ARE. They have created whole universes from their fingertips, with their hard work, their faith and humor and I love ’em. Mom used to say, “Don’t kill your sisters…someday you’ll need them.” Mom was right, and now I can’t think of what I would do without them.
Although I did devise some pretty amazing attempts on their lives when we were little…I’m glad they made it.
Photo courtesty of The Michael Schwartz Collection, Cleveland State University Library