Monday, May 01, 2006

California Dreamin' - Pt. 2 - My Humble Beginnings


The family I was born into was a proud southern Baptist family. While we didn’t have much to eat on the table, I really don’t remember actually being poor. Looking back, I knew we were, but as a child, I really didn’t think about it.

I’ve written many stories about my life growing up, so I won’t bore you with what’s already been said. Instead, I’ll start at the beginning of my journey to my new homeland, California, which this blog series is all about.

It takes a lot to remember back forty-five years ago, but I’ll try. It’s very important that I do remember for the sake of finding out why my spirit and soul is telling me to go back.

I’m thinking this is a sign of old age. Never in all my life have I wanted to accomplish things so strongly. Passing fancies was all it was during my youth; unbridled obsessions are what they are today. I just go with the flow.

Around the time that my mother announced I was to have a new step-father, she also announced we were moving. Double whammy. Actually, triple whammy, as I was about to leave someone very dear to me, my grandmother, who was to stay behind on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.

The Eastern Shore of Virginia is a peninsula surrounded on both sides by huge bodies of water. To the left, if looking at it on a map, is the Chesapeake Bay and to the right, the Atlantic Ocean.

While it was the poorest section of Virginia, it was rich in any kind of water sports you could imagine. I never really saw much of the water sports as a child and that is probably why to this day I can’t swim. I’m not sure why this was; perhaps, everyone was too busy or I have forgotten the reason.

However, we did eat great things coming out of the water—drum, flounder and the famous Chesapeake Blue Crab. Actually, I never ate the crabs, but many people did and thought they were a delicacy. We ate things mainly that friends or relatives gave us and there was many a time they would show up with fresh fish that my mother or grandmother cleaned and fried up fresh.

For entertainment, I played with the neighbor’s children next door. One of our favorite games was putting a penny on the railroad track that ran near our back door to see it flatten. They were supposed to be good luck charms and we’d carry them around forever. Or, at least, until we lost them.

I do remember playing with my dolls in the backyard while my mother and aunts, Caroline and Junie, suntanned. Oh, how glamorous they looked, I thought, and I couldn’t wait until I filled out and could have all the boys in the neighborhood staring at me, too.

Junie was only twelve years older than I, and I loved to go up to her bedroom and listen to her play her Elvis and Chubby Checker records on her Victrola. A Victrola—if I have it spelled right (seems the spell-check is having a fit)—was a record player. I’m not sure why it was even called that.

I do remember a tree swing out in the front yard. I loved to jump in it and watch the traffic as it zoomed by on Main Street which went right by our front door.

My grandfather made it for me, as he made it no secret that I was the apple of his eye.

When I was four, my grandfather had an accident. I was running through the house as children are apt to do and scuffled up a rug that was in the middle of the floor. He walked through the room, slipped, and died of a coronary.

I remember my aunts and mother taking me into the kitchen and giving me some new toys I’d never seen (as it was the first week of December, I figured it to be early Christmas gifts) to distract me.

I remember even thinking then that I killed my grandfather. I never got over it. My grandmother, mother and aunts, all reassured me that it was just his time to go.

After my grandfather died, my grandmother was never the same. I guess she also worried about how the bills were going to be paid as she had three almost-grown daughters and a grandchild to take care of, so she moved briefly to Norfolk, Virginia, to study nursing, and we went with her.

Memories of this are vague, but it was during this time when my mother announced I was to have a new step-daddy.

I never had a daddy, much less a step-daddy, and being as my beloved grandfather had passed away, I remember feeling elated. Now I would be like all the other kids and have a daddy, too.

My grandmother got her LPN certificate and moved back to the Eastern Shore and into the same house we all left. This house was actually my grand-grand-parents house. It had a tin roof and lots of space to run and hide in. It was haunted, though, and I found myself sleeping in between my grandmother and grandfather when he was still alive, A LOT.

My sister had come along just before this new step-daddy entered the picture, but the baby wasn’t his. Actually, no one knew whose it was as my mother kept it a tight secret.

However, I do remember someone in my past that could have been her father. In Norfolk. I don’t even know why I know this, but I do. Funny the things you think you have forgotten comes back to you in spurts.

After my mother married my new step-father, she announced we were moving. Again. To a state far, far away and the name of it was California. She said this is where the movie stars lived.

Although I was just seven, I knew all about movie stars. They were the people on the black-and-white TV that sat in the living room with the tin foil-covered rabbit ears.

Although it sounded like fun, I had reservations about leaving my grandmother. I’m not even sure why she didn’t go with us. Perhaps my aunt, Junie, was still in school.

But, my other aunt, Caroline (who I called Sissy), did go with us.

On the day that we were to leave, everyone was crying and carrying about. My new step-father, who I was instructed to call Daddy, was trying to hurry us and I didn’t want to let go of my grandmother, no matter how much in a hurry he was.

I wish I could remember what kind of car it was. The one aunt that did go with us died three years ago, but, Junie, the aunt that is still living (my mother has passed, also) might be able to remember.

I’m also not sure what time of year it was except it wasn’t cold out. I’m thinking late summer, but I’ll have to get up with my aunt about that.

So, this gives you a little background on what was going on in my life prior to leaving for California. I was seven and my sister, Vee, was only three. Very young, but I do recollect quite a few memories as I will post in upcoming blog posts.

5 comments:

  1. I'm finding it harder to remember back to my childhood too. It makes me sad.

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  2. Gosh, Faith, I keep forgetting to get back in touch with you about something...I'll email you tomorrow.

    It does make you sad. And the ones who could have told you more about your childhood, most of them are gone, so that's going to make it harder. But, I'm ready for the test. The test to see just how much I can recollect. I think this will really help me determine why it is I long to go back. And, if you read a previous blog post about this, it's all because I just want to get someone to take a picture of me in front of the "Welcome to California" sign. It means something and I'm trying to come to terms with it.

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  3. Psychic itches need scratching too. Good luck on your journey. :)

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  4. Golly, my childhood was so....oatmealish, dull and uneventful.

    You do go on the spiritual journeys. Your past has certainly molded you into a profound person. I'll be reading this journey with fascination.

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  5. I'll be looking forward to the next installment. You do this so well, Dorothy!

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