We lived in so many places as I grew up, it’s a little hard to keep track. While making notes for this blog, it suddenly seemed as if I had blocked out a few years between kindergarten and the fourth grade; that would include a few towns and schools. To be honest, big blank spots in my past is nothing new. While I did live in the sixties, I don’t have the excuse many others have for mild altering recreation…having been born in 1960, it was the first decade of my life, after all. Probably the strongest thing I took was cough syrup, and I never wore a single tie-died skirt or joined a commune. Oh…did it again, huh? I digressed.
Anyway, while the reasons I have so many black holes in my past may be up for discussion (and will most certainly be a topic for future blogs), that multi-year gap concerned me. After initiating a group FB-Messenger conversation with my remaining siblings, my sister and brother quickly cleared up my gap. The discussion ensued with a trip down memory lane (all via Messenger); while it was fun for us, the contents would likely mortify your average eavesdropper. You know, stuff like “Oh yeah, that’s where I walked in on Dad with (fill in the woman’s name).” And, “with” with our dad did NOT mean playing checkers. Another line: “I think (fill in a town) is about the time he started (fill-in-the-blank-ing) me…” Again, not checkers.
But the coolest part of that conversation is that although I am the youngest, I remembered something my brother had forgotten but loved. I remembered a schoolyard and a flagpole, although I wasn’t even in school yet. I remembered my siblings taking me (probably dragging me) the few blocks to their school, where there was flagpole at the top of, what, according to my four-year-old memory, was a massive hill. Because we only went when school wasn’t in session, the flag was down, so the lanyard swung free. Thus, my siblings would use it to swing out over the hill, drop and roll down. Now that I’m a mom, this terrifies me almost as much as it scared me then. I’m pretty sure I peed my pants as I mimicked them so they wouldn’t call me a sissy – not that either occurrence was that unusual. You know, me peeing my pants, or being called a sissy by my older sisters and brother. In any case, my brother was delighted with the memory, and I quote him, “I LOVED that flagpole!” That made the whole conversation worthwhile.
Later, the gray cleared a little in my mind, and I remembered that the house by the flagpole school was also the house where I first walked in on my dad not-playing-checkers with a woman. It wasn’t particularly X-rated; they were on the couch and had their clothes on, but even at four, I knew it probably wasn’t something I should tell my mother who was, of course, at work.
I also remembered that as the first house we were all told to hide behind the furniture, as the lights were doused when certain people were at the door. As a little kid, I thought it was kind of fun…but once I was an adult and learned what “bill collectors” were, I surmised it was less fun for everyone older than me, especially Mom.
Lots of memories for that house in Leavenworth, Kansas, on Ottawa street, especially since we probably didn’t even live there a year. It was just a stop, somewhere along the way.