Another piece I’m working on is a autobiography. I’ll be posting bits and pieces of it, unedited for the most part, here as well. The greater substance will have to be in book form but there’s no reason I can’t share some of it on my blog.
I know my life has not been any more exceptional than anyone else’s, I’m of no more importance than you are. We all have a story to tell. I have a desire to journalize my life in, if nothing more, a poetic or literary body of work. So do bare with me.
I haven’t decided what to title this yet. And I thought maybe I’d grab some photos from my scrap book as I go. Much of my childhood is very ordinary from a 1950s outlook, developing into an exceptionally complicated life later, which I will leave for the printed manuscript.
I will also be filling in a lot of spaces before the final manuscript is finished, as this is being written as I remember things. Consider it more of an excerpt.
Piles of snow that came up to my knees when I walked. So cold my cheeks turned pink and my nose felt as brittle as the icicles that hung off the window sills. Snowsuits thick and woolen. They scratched if I didn’t wear two layers of clothes under them. Someone had to pull them off of me when I came inside.
Later, when I was older mom bought me rubber boots, the yellow ones that came from Sears. We waited anxiously for the delivery man. Bright yellow raincoats and yellow rubber boots. Now I could splash in the puddles without getting in trouble.
Summer came. Cherry blossoms and sweet smells of lilac. Old houses nestled in among old trees that churned up the streets with roots begging to be free. My favorite neighbor a boy named Johnny. We watched lady bugs together, sitting on the sidewalk for hours. I was going to marry Johnny someday.
Grass. I loved the grass and I loved running barefoot. How many bee stings I got I don’t know. I would be in trouble when I got a sting. Still, bees were my friends when I wasn’t stepping on them. Johnny and I would let the bees crawl on our fingers. They were sweet. Fuzzy and their feet tickled. I still love bees.
I cried when my father cut down the weeping willow. It was the most beautiful tree on the block with gentle fingers that floated in the breeze, whispering fairy tales like the ones my mother read to me. No tree protected me like that tree. No tree talked to me or was my umbrella in the rain like the weeping willow. They told me the roots got into the sewer, but to a five year old what did that mean? The tree was gone and its void blackened my heart.
I climbed the apple tree. It was my hideaway. I pretended I was a bird. Or one of Peter Pan’s lost boys. I could see forever in the apple tree. Across oceans, into other lands. The desert, Mars, Treasure Island. The apple tree was a space ship in time.
“Don’t eat the rotten apples,” I was told, but they weren’t rotten. Not all of them. Mom caught me with one and I was in trouble. My grandparents came over for dinner that night and everyone got roast beef. My plate came with two rotten apples on it. I was humiliated. My grandpa saw that I’d been bad. That was the worse. Grandpa Hastings* was the dearest person in my life. I didn’t want him to know I misbehaved. Mother pleaded for mercy but it didn’t matter. Dinner tasted rotten after that even though they brought me the roast beef.
Daddy brought a TV home one day. It was the first one our family ever owned. He felt proud of himself. He was showing mom’s family that he was somebody! The TV puzzled me. I watched “The $64,000 Question” wide-eyed. Mother liked to answer the questions. She was usually right.
Grandpa Hastings* was a hero to me. I idolized the ground he walked on. He helped found the PGA and sold golf clubs at the May Company in Cleveland. We went to see him and I followed him around like he was a celebrity. They put his name on the golf clubs that he sold. He taught me how to swing. “Keep your eye on the ball,” he said. I did but it didn’t seem to help much.
Daddy took us to Euclid Beach. My favorite ride was the Steeple Chase. It was a merry-go-round where the horses moved back and forth and the horse whose head was in front of the others at the end of the ride won and if you were on that horse you got a prize. I won one time and got a gold coin good for another ride. I put it in my purse. My sister and I had dresses on, and hats to match. Our slips made our dresses stand out like ballerinas so it didn’t matter that they itched. We wore white socks and patent leather shoes that I wasn’t supposed to scuff. The purse was new, with a pearl button. We walked through the park and we both wanted to feed the swans, so Daddy bought food to feed them. I was so excited. The swans floated on the lake by the waterlilies and came near to us. They were beautiful. Long graceful necks and perfect black markings on their faces. When it was time to leave, I had forgotten my purse with the gold coin.
My father wouldn’t let me go back to get it.
One day my father was mad at me. He dropped me off at a building and told me he was going to leave me. I think it was the Post Office. I was terrified. He only drove around the corner and then picked me up. My mother scolded him.
I don’t remember much about my Grandpa Paul. I remember his cigars, and I remember he gave me the ring that came off of the cigar. That was supposed to make me happy while I sat with my sister like a little lady. My parents visited with him and grandma while we sat with our hands on our laps.. The ring was like tinfoil but it was colored and I wondered how they made it that way. “Children are to be seen and not heard.” My father always said every time we had company. I am sure that is how he was raised. I spent many hours being bored.
Grandpa Paul died. I remember a funeral. Everyone wore black. The room had a strange smell. All I wanted to do was go home but we had to visit with people first. Everyone was taller than me and I felt like a dwarf. My sister and I had to be quiet.
I heard stories about Grandpa Paul. He came from Hungary and had to become a citizen.
He also had to renounce his king. I found it amazing that he had a king.
He was mean to my father in that he wouldn’t let him finish school. I probably would have been fine with that, but my father wasn’t. When he was a young man, grandpa wanted him to work and help support the family. My father had two brothers and a sister. My dad didn’t want to get a job, he wanted to graduate, and so he had to move out of the house and stay with the neighbors. Even after Grandpa Paul died, my aunt and uncles lived with Grandma Paul.
I remember her. She didn’t speak English very well so I never got to know her but I wish I had. She was never very healthy and my Aunt took care of her. They said she had Dropsy and her legs swelled up. She was nice to me though. I think she wanted to talk to me more but I couldn’t understand her. She dressed just like the Hungarian ladies in the old country. She was an excellent cook in her day. Before they got married, my father had my mother stay with grandma so my mother would learn to cook the old recipes. Poppy seed strudel, apple strudel, lots of pastries.
To be continued…