The early years!
In 1964, when the Beatles and 'Stones invaded the US, my mother
was due to have me. If you do the math (1964 / 4) you can see it
was a leap year. OF COURSE my mother went into labor on leap
year day, the start of my typical bad luck. But, as I was told,
not being able to remember that far back, my mother's doctor was
on vacation in Europe. Not wanting to have me until he came back,
she was given a shot of some contraction-controlling drug that
brought it all to an abrupt halt. Three days later I was born,
I guess after the doctor made it back from his trip.
Years later, as I recall being told, my memory being hazy about
this as well, there was some kind of recall on the drug and my
parents were notified of it. Seems it causes retardation in
children and was pulled from the market.
That explains a lot about me! Oh, and my mother had a double
placenta - in other words there could have been TWO of me. I
think instead I just ended up being twice as big, all rolled
into one person. This, alas, also explains a lot about me!
There was one time in my life where I was watching TV with my
siblings and eating a hotdog. It was a black and white TV of
course. I kind of faded out. Then I woke up in the hospital
and was hungry. Three days later! I remember eating cream of
asparagus soup. Yum, I still like that. What put me out for
three days? No idea, but it never happened again...
I grew up in a village, believe it or not. The Exempted Village
of Lisbon, Ohio, the finest little town (er, I mean village) you
could ever imagine. I lived near both sets of grandparents, close
enough to one set I could easily walk to their house. Almost all
of my aunts, uncles, and cousins lived in and around the same
place. I saw them at school, at church, and everywhere I went.
MANY were teachers, some were plumbers, welders, etc. Our family
was well known and if you tried to get away with something, there
always seemed to be someone who found out quickly - mom and dad.
My parents also grew up there, to make things worse. Mom was a
teacher, so if I acted up the other teachers were only too happy
to let her know I misbehaved. Ah the days of double spankings.
I might get paddled at school by the principal and then get a
second spanking at home for being bad enough to get it at school.
I am the last of four kids, with Cathie (8 years older), Teresa (6
years), and Bob (3 years on me). When I went to school, I was
constantly reminded of this by my teachers. "Oh, you're Bob's
brother? He was such a good student." Or the ever popular "You
almost do that as well as your brother did when I had him." Grrr.
But nothing tops my 6th grade teacher, Mrs Pettit, who was happy
to tell me "You're not quite as good in math as your father. He
was one of my best students." Aaaaaahhhhhhhh!!!!
That was later, from 6th grade on. For the first few years of
my education, we lived for a while in the country, the "Western
Reserve", which sounds funny considering it is in the north east
corner of Ohio. We moved there about the time I went into
kindergarden. My dad was first a teacher and then a principal
in the West Branch school district. I attended a one-room school
called Goshen Center. It's not what you think, I didn't have
a whole bunch of different aged kids with one teacher. No, it
was 32 of us, many years exactly 16 girls and 16 boys, all the
same age, with one room of a school building and one teacher for
all subjects. You had a desk, and except for lunch or recess
you never left it. All your books were in that desk all the
time (heh heh heh). Every year you would move to the next room
and the next teacher, and have the exact same 32 kids in there
with you. Some were very bright, and some were not so bright,
but you all learned and did the same stuff together.
By fourth grade, we had worked up to some pretty advanced math.
The problem was, I hated my teacher Mrs Townsend. She wasn't real
fond of me, either. I never did my homework, and she would send
the books home with me. She would stand over me and make sure
I got that math book, walked out and got on the bus with it.
Every night. And every day I would drop that book in the milk
box out in front of our house (yes, we had milk delivery). Each
morning I would get it back out and take it to school. She was
very unhappy with my parents for not making me do my work, and
this went on for quite a while until she called home and I had
to fess up. There was some tears shed that day, let me tell ya!
Living in the Western Reserve area was a hoot overall. We had
a dairy farm on three sides, and lots of woods and pastures to
play in. Our house had a pond with snapping turtles and stocked
with bluegill (and bass, but they all died when mom switch
detergents one day. The washing machine water went out into the
pond, I think.) We also had ducks, which dad fed and sheltered
through the winter (and were very happy to eat whatever fish we
caught!) Dad used to come home, eat dinner, then read the paper
out on the edge of the driveway with a .22 rifle across his lap.
When one of those snappers came out at night to cruise around on
top of the water, wham!
Across the road there was an old dump and it was full of antique
bottles. When I think of all the corked bottles of different
sizes, shapes, etc that we smashed up I feel kinda bad. Some were
probably worth a fair amount of money. I also picked up a scar
on my arm that I've had all my life from throwing a lead pipe.
Plus, this was the Western Reserve, as in Indian reserve. There
were always arrowheads to be found and axe/hammer heads, left
by the Indians. I remember Bob and I being made to de-rock the
garden after dad had rototilled it and finding them turned up.
Of course, there were copperhead snakes, lots of frogs and
toads, horses to ride, old barns to explore and hay to jump in.
All in all, it was a great place to be as a kid.
I was born in Lisbon and lived in two different houses by the
time I was 5. Then we moved to West Branch, and then back to
Lisbon. Here's something funny I found about small towns. When
we moved back, we moved into Mrs Browns house. It was a very
old house, probably from the mid 1800's, and had gas fixtures
added as an afterthought. It was that old. Some of the wiring
was cloth/rubber covered silver or aluminum, not copper. Dad
replaced this all over at first. When we moved in, the neighbors
came over to see who was moving into Mrs Browns house. She was
a lady who had lived there a long, long time and had finally
died in her sleep. Her children were the ones selling the house.
We lived there from 1975 to, I think, 1985 or so. When mom and
dad sold the house, the neighbors came over. They wanted to know
who was going to move into Mrs Browns house next! Wouldn't want
you to feel welcome or anything!
Here are a few random things:
Watching the kids play while fenced on the porch on Pendleton St
The scary tree that I thought was a monster trying to get me
through the window on Beaver St.
The spring-horse toy I LOVED that we left behind when we moved.
Coming home in a snowstorm with dad and seeing the brown car
sitting off the road (over a ditch, through a fence) where
Teri slid it.
Cathie taking me to see "The Apple Dumpling Gang" in the
Hearing the 7 year locust. About, oh, every 7 years! And finding
their cool golden, dried skins.
The copper head and timber rattler I came very, very close to.
Yikes! And how mad dad was, now I see it was fear for me, not
that he was mad at me!
The GIANT snapping turtle Bob jumped into the pond to grab after
dad shot it. I guess Bob thought he was a retriever or something.
The big fat bumble bee that flew up my pant leg and stung me
4-5 times before it got outta there.
Cleo, Teri's dog. No one else was allowed to have a pet but
somehow she got a collie. A psycho one, of course!
The newspaper box melting. Since dad was a principal (and then
a truant officer!) he was quite the target for kid pranks.
Dad burning the wasp next with a torch up on the garage roof.
Two kitchens, one above the other, in our house in West Branch.
And using the downstairs fridge to make my play-dough stuff
harden faster. And turning up the cold in the fridge to make
it harden faster. And mom's onions getting destroyed that were
sitting in the fridge. Whoops!
LEGAL fireworks. Ah, what memories!!! I must have built a hundred
different model airplanes and glued in bottle rocket "motors" to
help them fly. Kind of like JATO, except when my engines burned
out they were guaranteed to blow up! Some of these planes actually
flew a few yards before they turned into plastic shrapnell!
Willard (our farmer neighbor) making maple syrup in his saw
Dad taking Bob and I to the candy outlet (private, primitive
Sams club type thing) I just remember the candy. Dad bought a
whole box of Choc-o-lites!!! I loved those things. Did I
mention he bought a whole box!?!
Elvis the neighbor's sheepdog with no tail (thus the name) and
how he would chase our ducks... until dad put birdshot in his
shaking behind enough times to convince him otherwise.
Finding out in second grade that mom's name wasn't mom. I can
still remember the teacher telling me, as we learned our
alphabet, that my mom's name started with an "I". No way!
She also made me memorize tables all the way up to 12x12=144.
Where are child abuse laws when you need them? (grin!)
All those trees we climbed. I used to climb up there with a
book and read it, perched like a bird.
The turtle that fell in the footer dad poured the night before.
(No matter where we ever lived, dad added a room, poured a new
driveway, did SOMETHING to the house! And Bob and I were the
labor force for most of it...)
Dad cutting his knuckles putting on the lawn mower blade while
no one was home and bleeding very carefully only on the garage
floor and the tile in the house (looking for a rag). When we
came home with mom, we "tracked" his path around the house.
Yep, nothing like coming home with mom and finding blood all
over the floor and no dad to be found...!!!
Our neighbors with the bomb shelter and the monkey for a pet.
Never, ever have a monkey for a pet!
Watching them walk on the moon. Live! On the black and white
TV dad had in the rec room of the basement, which he had up
on some kind of box to make it more visible in the room.
The northern lights. The hurricane that made it into Ohio.
The tornado warnings.
Fireflies. Wow, were there a lot of lightning bugs!
Dropping rocks on .22 shells we found for that loud bang. Until
mom caught us. Ouch!!!
Nailing Bob across the back with a baseball bat while he was
standing bent over in the pond. What a splash he made! And
then mom catching him as he was about to hammer me with the bat
and him getting the spanking for it while I got off scott free!
Running full tilt into a barbed wire that was right at forehead
level. That HAD to have been funny to see!
Crawling up on the dining room table and thinking it would hold
me. That wasn't such a good idea.
Going with dad to Pittsburg Pirates games. Yay Willie, Roberto,
and the rest of ya!
Tappan lake vacations, and Bob running up ahead to pick up the
"neat looking big stick" that turned out to be a black snake!
Dawn, Jill, and Jody were girls but were (gasp!) actually fun
cousins to play with!
Milking Willard's cows a couple times when the power was out.
And seeing them standing in our garden or pond when they were
able to escape his pasture once in a while.
All that bicentennial stuff. Cards, flags, buttons, everything.
Crayfish that live in the ground, army men, kitty-cars, fossils,
breaking Bob's collar bone when he didn't break a tackle!
Testor's and COX string-controlled airplanes. Nothing like having
to spin around and around while flying a buzzing gas powered plane
at the end of some fishing string. Luckily the planes were durable
enough to survive crash after crash, even though I think I'm still
a whole lot motion sick from doing this and breathing in the toxic
exhaust fumes. What fun for a kid!