Remembering Sassy

Good Letters | 9/25/2018 | Staff
samtetley (Posted by) Level 3
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Sassy wasn’t her real name, and she wasn’t “sassy” at all. But as happens with many grandparents, the oldest grandchild names her—and the name sticks.

I was that oldest grandchild. Her name was Sarah, which is what I’d hear the grownups call her. But when I tried, at age one-and-a-half or so, to say “Sarah,” it came out “Sassy.”

Grandkids - Rest - Life

So Sassy she was, for all us grandkids, for the rest of her life.

Sassy was a professional pianist. Not of international stardom, but locally well-known. She taught piano at the Preparatory School of Baltimore’s Peabody Institute. From early grade-school years, I took lessons from her at Peabody, though of course my parents didn’t have to pay.

Parents - Kids - Dad - Income - Sassy

My parents were raising four kids (later five) on my Dad’s meager income, and without Sassy I would have had none of the enrichments of my early years. Students at Peabody Prep could take free classes in music theory and composition, and I did both.

I also studied ballet and modern dance at Peabody all through grade school and high school; I’m guessing Sassy and her husband (Poppy to me; my Dad’s dad) paid the bill for these.

Talent - Music - Dance - Activities—but - Day

I didn’t have talent in any of these music or dance activities—but I loved them all. I’d spend all day Saturday at Peabody in these various endeavors.

But the piano class with Sassy was on a weekday. She scheduled it as her last class of the day, and then she’d take me to her house for dinner. I treasured these dinners with Sassy and Poppy: it made me feel grown up to be eating alone with them, having “grownup” conversation.

Gigi - Week - Winnings - Card - Games

I loved Gigi, too. And not just because she’d bring me each week her winnings from the card games with her lady friends the day before: twenty-five cents (sometimes even fifty)—a bonanza for a...
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