I was blessed with having a Mother and Father that were both Ministers — oh, good times ! Being an animal lover didn’t fit so well in their organized life. One Sunday morning my black cat, Inky, had her kittens on a pile of clean clothes. On top of the pile of clean clothes was my father’s only white shirt. As I sat down and petted Inky, I noticed there were six kittens laying beside her. Three of them were black which is my favorite color cat. I think I’ll keep those three. I sat there imagining the fun I would have playing with my kittens. All of a sudden I heard heavy footsteps behind me. I swirled around and there was my father, “WHAT THE HECK !” Those may not have been his exact words but I was four, so let’s go with that. The only other memory I have of that day after skedaddling is the fact that I did not end up with three little black kittens.
We were still in the Great Depression the night I was born, November 12, 1937 in a small town in Vermont. I was fortunate not to remember the hardships adults endured. The Great Depression started on October 29, 1927 and ended in 1941.
My older sister Ellen was 11 years old when I was born, she was in charge of taking care of 2 other siblings, and a baby – ME. My parents were out searching for any odd job to make enough money to buy food and milk.
I only know these facts because, as an adult, my sister shared these stories with me as we sat on her patio sipping a glass of wine. My sister said she never had enough food and milk as a child. Now, as an adult and a mother of 3 children, she could make certain her children were never deprived of food or milk. Also, Ellen told me that we lived in a shack outside of town where I was born. Some people didn’t even have a roof over their head and lived in tents or under bridges.
Our father and mother were both ministers. At that time women did not have a parish of their own. She helped my father and sang in the choir. With my mother and father being busy saving the parishioners of their Church, I was a free bird, pretty much had all the freedom I wanted. That is what I thought in my child’s mind any way.
One of the situations that has been in my memory over the years is the first night I remembering hearing the air-raid siren basting. I was in my bed room playing with my doll, (I loved that doll,when you had only 1 of anything you took care of it, you didn’t get another). My bedroom shade was already drawn, I turned off the light and hid under my bed. I remember my mother explaining this was called a blackout because no lights were supposed to be seen. I don’t remember being afraid when the siren blew, it was just the way of life back then. I had been told many times what to do when we heard the blast of the siren, as had other kids at this time in our little lives. We didn’t ask why we had to do it, we just DID IT!
At 5 years old I attended kindergarten. This brings back another memory when the air raid siren blowing while in our classroom, as instructed by our teacher, all of us kids hid under their desk. I guess the beds and our desks were constructed sturdier back in those days to be able to protect us from a BOMB !
Until we meet again.
If you have any memories of the depression and would like to share, I would love to hear to them.
It’s now 1960 and the experience of my trip to Vermont four years ago has been tucked away in my memory. You can read that post in my Archive “ON A WING AND A PRAYER.” Now I’m ready for another flight back east. It’s time to visit my dad and my older siblings; Ellen, Ray, and their families who live in Vermont Jeff was now two years old and Susie was five. How difficult could it be to fly with two kids!
Susie was fourteen months old on that fateful trip back home from Vermont to California four years ago. We were at the end of our visit from Vermont and changing planes in Chicago was uneventful. Finally we were settled in our seats with Susie ready for a nap and I for a cup of coffee. The plane had been in the air about an hour when the Captain’s voice came over the loudspeaker. He announcement that he had to turn the plane around and go back to the Chicago airport. The airplane had a malfunction with the landing gear. We made a crash landing! Luckily no one received any physical injuries. The mental anguish was another story.
John worked at United Airlines as a mechanic and one of the benefits was a fly free pass on United Airlines. The down side of flying on a free pass was that you were on standby until there were seats available. This second trip back East was planned for a night flight. Fewer people fly at night and less chance of being bumped.
We were fortunate that the plane had available seats. Susie and Jeff were getting sleepy, well Jeff anyway – he had fallen asleep in the car on the ride to the airport. Susie felt she would miss something if she were to sleep.
John handed me Jeff when we were to board the plane. Now with both kids in tow I made my way to the back of the plane until I found three seats together. Much to the children’s delight the other passengers that filled the back of the plane were the “San Francisco Giants” baseball team. Some of the players were stretched out in the isle trying to rest. But that wasn’t going to happen! The other men were in a jolly mood ready to celebrate!
So much for my two children sleeping.They were having too much fun with the attention from the team. Susie remembers talking to them. Jeff, being only two, doesn’t have any memories of that flight or that trip back to Vermont at all. Not being a fan of baseball or ever watching a game I didn’t know if the team’s excited mood was from celebrating a win. Someone that followed the Giants would of known them by their names.
Half of our trip was over when we landed in Chicago and changed planes for Vermont. I had Jeff in one arm and Susie by her hand. I found it difficult to maneuver through the moving crowd. Jeff was content to be carried. Susie struggled to be free from my hand which I held tighter. I’m rethinking that it’s just as easy to fly with two children as one!
It’s fall and a chill was in the air in Vermont. I’m thankful I was mindful to pack sweatshirts and light jackets for the children.The peak color of the foliage was about over and leaves were falling. Our first visit after landing in Vermont was at my brother’s in Jericho.It was wonderful seeing my nieces again. Rose, Helen, and Robert, my only nephew, who I had to babysit when they were babies and I was a teenager. Now they are young teenagers. In the future Rose and Helen will babysit Susie and Jeff when they come to live with me in California.
The girls raked the leaves into a pile for the younger children to jump in. Susie and Jeff were a little hesitant to jump in the leaves. They hadn’t had that experience living in California with fruit trees and an occasional weeping willow. Their two year old cousin Donna showed them how it was done. Then there was no stopping them!
While visiting we took a boat trip on the Ticonderoga out of Burlington. Jeff was fascinated by the water and peeked through the rail to get a better look. His sister panicked and wanted him away from there. He never listened to her. She was just an annoyance to him. This was a pattern of their young lives and ON..Jeff deliberately would put himself in unsafe situations to make Susie freak out.
One instance that stands out in my mind and memories happened during a shopping trip, at the time we lived in San Jose, California. Jeff was around two and a half years old. I had a hold of his hand and Susie was by my side. I remember letting go of Jeff’s hand for a second to look at some sweaters that were folded on the counter. When I looked down to take his hand again he wasn’t there! Now I panicked and frantically searched the store, he was nowhere to be found. I was sure he was kidnapped!
By this time Susie was crying. I hurried to the information station and told them what had happened. The doors were instantly locked down and the search began in the store. Recently a young child had been kidnapped in the San Jose area so this was not taken lightly. The police were notified and began a search outside.
I finally went back to where I was looking at the sweaters. When I looked down I noticed a cupboard door was open. I bent down and looked inside, there curled up on a pile of sweaters was Jeff fast asleep! It was a great relief to find him safe and with quite a bit of embarrassment for all the commotion we had caused I immediately went to the store clerks to inform everyone he was safe. Everyone was happy he was safe.
Back to our trip in Vermont—-The highlight of the trip for Susie was the day the girls brought this huge white horse named Milk Punch around for them to ride. Jeff was the first one put on the horse. He didn’t like that very much and wanted down. When Susie was on Mike Punch one of the cousins led the horse around. Susie of course didn’t want to get off. That was the beginning of her love for horses. I already knew it was a given she would have dogs and cats in her life. I’m glad she didn’t have the opportunity to see a monkey….she would of wanted one!
The last of our trip was a visit with my sister Ellen and her family. Our father was at her house also. It was fun catching up on family happenings. Our last venture was a hike in the woods. Ellen had packed a picnic lunch of fried chicken, potato salad and, for dessert, delicious brownies. We had not walked very far when Jeff decided he had enough waking. He laid down in the middle of the path in front of us and would not budge. I had to carry him Jeff was a chunky little guy and was dead weight. When it was time to stop and bring out the picnic lunch he had no trouble running over to where the food was.
The last of the trip went smoothly as long as I sat in the middle seat and separated Susie and Jeff. There was too much togetherness on this trip.
We were three weary travelers as we exited the plane IN SAN FRANCISCO. I retract my statement in my earlier post “HOW DIFFICULT CAN IT BE TO TRAVEL WITH TWO KIDS!’