The Early Years
Chapter 1

I was born in Hampton, Virginia, in 1959.

I can remember my 1st grade teacher at St. Rose of Lima school. Mrs. Birkbaum.

I can still recall our little home on Patrician Drive. It was relatively bare; not many trees.

We visited a few years ago and there were trees everywhere!

I can recall our playing hide and seek in the few low riding bushes in the adjacent yards.

Our mothers hurrying us inside when the mosquito dusting airplanes came flying low overhead. The clouds of insecticide flowing out of their bellies.

Party lines. Oh wow. The phone would ring. It could be for any of the 4 homes tied into that one line.

My broken right foot. This painful memory I can bring up at will when I am in the right mood.

I was 4 years old. We were visiting with the neighbors who lived on the corner. They had an old trailer in their back yard.

The group of us kids (perhaps 5 or so, ranging in age from 4 to 6) would walk from the front to the back of the trailer, making it swing up and down from its resting spot.

I was running around the trailer and happened to meet the front hitching post as it came down to the ground. On top of my right foot. Causing me to scream out and luckily pull away as the kids went to the back of the trailer once more.

First trip to a hospital in an ambulance.

Luckily a really clean break on top of my 4 year old foot. Some cleaning up and then a cast.

Spending a night, alone, in a hospital, wondering why mom or dad couldn't stay with me? Hell, I was only 4!! But mom was 8 months pregnant and had my brother to watch. Dad had work and I guess a child in the hospital did not rank in importance. Yes, my sarcastic side makes an appearance. You, and I, will see more of him.

I can remember hearing about our president, Kennedy, being shot. The television showing us the limo and the casket being loaded onto the plane.

I was nearing 5 years old at the time. It is a very strong memory.

My first introduction to bullies in the neighborhood.

I was 6. I was with a couple of other school friends. A group of older kids just started chasing us for no reason at all. One caught up to me and shoved me shoulder first into the ground. I recall screaming and crying. My shoulder and chest hurt so bad. Those bullies ran off and my friends walked me home.

My dad was working. My mom did not drive as there was only one car. A big black Buick. I think it may have been a 1963. I did not really pay much attention to things like that. My concerns were typical for a 6 year old. Playing and getting as dirty as I could.

My poor mom knew something was wrong. She asked a very helpful neighbor to take us to the hospital. Once there, the doctor checked me out and pronounced that I would just sleep it off and be fine in a couple of days.

Mom intuition. She asked our neighbor to take us to another hospital a little further away. The doctor there immediately sent me for an X-ray to determine my injuries.

Broken collarbone. Clean snap. Wrapped me up in an ace bandage. It was tough going as I could only sleep on my back.

All of these memories are clean and easily visited. Why others were locked away I can only guess at.

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