*Note, these photos were not taken by me, but by others, either family members or professional photographers.
Above photo - My older sister and I
I was a weird kid. I had no idea that I was weird. I often wondered why other people were not like me.It did mean that, especially as I entered middle school, I was made fun of and did not have many friends. Looking back on it now, though, I’m happy I was weird because it means that I never fell for doing things just because my peers did them. It did lead to some interesting stories, though.
Above photo - my older sister and I - me discovering my hands!
I am the second child in my family. My father was in the military, and I was born after he had returned from Vietnam, and we were stationed in Germany. The night my mother had me, she had liver and onions for dinner. I have hated liver and onions my whole life and have told my mother many times that that is why I chose to be born that night in July. My mother’s water broke as she was leaning over to turn on the water to give my sister a bath (or maybe as she was bathing my sister). Anyway, if you know my mother, she is calm most of the time and she was not too worried about being in labor. So, she finished bathing my sister, they got her to the sitters, or got the sitter there, and my dad took her to the hospital. My mother did not realize that she should have entered the hospital through the emergency room, so she went in another entrance and had to walk a while or climb stairs or something. All I know is that when she finally reached the labor area, I was ready to come out. They did not have time to prep her, it was just into the labor room, and I presented myself. All five pounds, seven ounces of me.
My mother later told me that that night, she was the last mother admitted into the maternity ward, and I was the first baby born.My mother was the ranking mother that night, which meant she got the best room, I think, or the only private room.I don’t remember, of course.At one point it was said that I may have also been the only girl born, but we are not certain on that.The doctors said that I was so small because there was something wrong with the placenta, which meant I was not getting enough nutrition during the last part of the pregnancy, but since I had a good appetite and put on weight, I was not held in the hospital for longer than normal.
Above photo - my older sister and I - such big eyes I had!
As a baby, I was quiet and shy and did not seem to like men. I barely even put up with my Dad holding me. I did warm up to him as I got older, but as an infant, I wanted nothing to do with him. I have yet to figure this out because my dad was a wonderful man. There was one man, though, that I adored, and that was my mother’s father, my Pap. Why I liked him so much, I will never know, but it is said that almost the minute they greeted us at the airport in Germany when they came to visit, I actually reached for him and let him hold me with no fuss.
My dad, sister and I in our German attire in Germany. Touring castles I have no memory of.
My dad, sister and I. We are growing up.
My Pap - quite a bit later in life, but as I remember him.
When I was about two and a half, my younger brother was born. I always tease him and say that he ruined my life and stole my mom, but we were very close as kids. I was a small child, and he was large, not overweight, but big bones and big built. When I was three and he was about six months old, we were the same height and he weighed more. My mother was very concerned about this and asked our doctor, but he just assured her that I was a small child, and he was big. I did have times when I was taller than him, but even then, I often wore his hand-me-downs to play outside in.
Our family of five.
When we lived in Fort Lee, Virginia, I started to learn how to ride a bike. I loved riding. I hated stopping. Not the stopping per se, but the braking. I just could never get my legs to work backwards correctly. I came up with a great solution. Well, maybe not so great. Instead of braking, I would simply ride by one of the tall pine trees on our block and grab onto it. I do remember this. It is said that I knocked myself out more than once doing this, though I do not recall that. In my mind, I was still stopping myself, so it worked. I did eventually figure out the braking thing, but I acquired some nice bruises in the meantime.
My family in Virginia.
My sister and I in dresses made by my mother.
After my father left the military, we moved back to Pennsylvania and spent time living in my grandmother’s house (my father’s mother). My grandmother was the perfect grandmother, small with a short platinum white bob, the color her red hair changed to when she was pregnant with my dad. She raised six children, with the first four being born in five or six years, then my father a while later and his sister nine or eleven years after that. So, she was a tough woman who took no flack, but who also had her sweet moments. She always had her television and her police radio on because she always wanted to know what was going on. I am sure that she would love it that I am now a 911 dispatcher.
When we lived with her, I was five years old, my sister was seven and my brother was two or three. My father would take us outside and play monster or wrestling with us in the yard when my mom thought we had been around the television too much. My parents raised us without television and were not especially happy that my grandmother kept hers on all the time. One day, when we were out wrestling with my dad, he turned just in time to see me pick up the biggest rock I could and bring it down over his head. As he crumpled under my sudden assault, my sister immediately ran into the house and ran past my grandmother and straight to my mother, telling her what happened. When my mother reached us outside, my response was to say, between wails and tears was, “But that doesn’t happen to Wile E. Coyote!” My mother turned to my grandmother and declared that the television would not be staying on all the time any longer. That incident just proved to my parents that they were doing the right thing by raising us without television.
My grandma with my sister and I. I do not look too happy.
As I got older, my dad found a job in Beaver County, Pennsylvania and we moved into a ranch house in a typical middle-class neighborhood called Brighten Township. That house is where we lived while I was in elementary school. It had a large back yard that ran down a hill. Our dog lived on the one side of the back yard, under the willow tree and the other side is where my mother planted her garden. In the front yard were two perfect climbing trees. And one of them had a perfect limb that I could sit astride and rest my feet on two lower limbs. That became my horse or motorcycle, and I would ride to the rescue of many a boy in distress. If anyone had told me at the time that I was supposed to be the one being rescued, not doing the rescuing, I would have been incensed. In my world, I was the hero; a very weird hero, but still a hero.
My sister, brother and I in our house in Brighten Township. My mother made the matching coats and I do think I am wearing my brother's pants.
I hope you enjoyed these stories from my childhood. I hope to share more in the future.