Part Two of Three
(Click here to read Part One)
What did your family, as a whole, do for fun? What did you hate doing? Share some memories and stories.
Well the easiest question is the last one. What did we hate doing – visiting my grandparents but even more so, my stepmother Peggy. If you wanted to see Grandpa Ron [Dad] you had to see Peggy. So we used to go over and visit him when we knew she was going to be gone like Sunday morning or Wednesday evening when she was at church.
What did my family do as a whole? Mostly we traveled. I don’t remember my father going on any trips with us. It was usually just Mom and us five kids. However, Dad did go with us for family reunions on his side of the family. Where we traveled depended on what Mom set up. There was a trip to Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, which was with Mom, John, Cilla and me. This was memorable because it was the first time we dealt with the Canadian metrics system. Instead of buying a quart or half gallon of milk, we bought a bag of milk that was so many centiliters. The speed limit was 80 kilometers an hour instead of 50mph. My mom lost her balance a lot and ended up rolling in the red clay of P.E.I more than once.
Another memorable trip was up in Baxter State Park with all five of us kids and my mom had my dad’s pickup truck. She was driving on the dirt gravel roads and a car passed us in a hurry going in the opposite direction. The wind from the other car passing by blew a map off our dashboard into Mom’s line of sight. Mom proceeded to grab the map out of her vision, crossing over the ditch on the right hand side of the road. Fortunately, the truck was caught by a huge spruce tree. My mom had us all get out on the driver side because if we had opened the door to the passenger side, we would have fallen down a very steep cliff. That was scarier than seeing the black bears that ripped a man’s station wagon apart.
The most memorable trip that we took as a family was back in 1971 during the summer. My mother and father were going through a divorce and Mom wanted to spare us the drama. She bought a blue van so there would be plenty of room for us and our belongings. We drove across the country stopping in Pennsylvania, the Denver Mint in Colorado, Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, the Grand Canyon in Arizona (Phoenix and Flagstaff) to see Mom’s relatives. We visited the Alamo in Texas, where Ronda got shot in the butt with a peashooter, drove over the Mississippi River, got some peaches in Georgia and headed up the East Coast back to Maine. It took us more than a month to do all that. My mom went to deliver the peaches to a friend along the eastern coast but somebody had sat on them so the dear lady got mushed peaches with lots of fruit flies.
My siblings: My oldest sister, who is the eldest of all of us five kids, is Ronda with no “H.” She was born in 1955 and was a great older sister. When she got her first car, she drove us three younger ones around to see various haunted houses, cemeteries and literally scare the s*** out of us. Mom and Ronda were with us three younger ones when we saw the ghost car in the woods and the spaceship lights on the roof of the store. Ronda was really cool because, as she is much older than I am, we got to meet her college friends and hear all the escapades that they were involved in.
Next is my brother Ron. He was born in ‘57 so he’s only four years older than I am. It was really cool when I was in junior high and he was in high school. When we lived on Duncan Road with Mom, he had a downstairs bedroom where he had various photos of hard rock band pictures. I specifically remember the one that had a goat skull over a pentagram hanging over a boiling pot and the name of the song it was advertising with Goats Head Soup. He was also the one that had a lot of friends over and one in particular probably had too much to drink. This friend was enjoying the music on his headphones when he suddenly stood straight up pulling the earphones off his head which wrapped around mom’s lamp and it went crashing to the floor. Ron had to explain what happened to Mom. It was quite a different story.
I remember my mom being really excited because Ron had put some plants outside to grow. He lied to her telling her they were marigolds. When they were over five-feet-tall, she was still expecting them to bloom. Mom never got to see them bloom because someone in the neighborhood stole those plants from Ron with their five leaves on each stem…
Actually, Ron was a very loving brother. When I ran away to northern Maine as a confused teenager, it was wrong of me to do so and my dad that came to find me. They found me, brought me home and I went directly to bed. My brother came in and tucked me in and gave me a kiss on the forehead while I pretended to be asleep.
After me, there is my brother John who was born in 1964. He was my buddy, co-conspirator and I could always blame it on him if nothing else. He was the one that would get Dad when I was injured. He was the one that helped me named my black cat speck. John was the one that helped me explore the lumber chip mill next to the old store. He was the one that helped me fish the leaves out of the culvert, set them on the grass where they dried out and blew back into the culvert. John was the one that had the bedroom in the cellar next to Ron’s where my first husband, who was still my boyfriend at that point, took some drugs and passed out on John’s bed. Later on he said that he saw camels that he swore up and down about [that experience.] When John would lie down on the couch, I would take a sheet to cover him up but as the sheet fell around me, John would think that I was a ghost and it would scare him every time. When my mom moved to Florida with my younger brother and sister I really missed my buddy! But I had a new life with my new husband and baby daughter.
The youngest one of us in the family is Priscilla. She wasn’t born until February of 1968. At that time, I was very independent and we didn’t want a little sister following me around. My oldest sister, Ronda, called Priscilla and old man when she was born because Priscilla was bald and toothless, yep, that fits a lot of old men. I don’t remember spending a lot of time with Cilla as she was so much younger. However, when we all moved to Duncan Road, she was my roommate. I didn’t like having the early bedtime just because my sister had to go to bed. I wanted to stay up later because I was older.
After Mom died in Florida, Priscilla had to move to Maine to live with Ronda. Then she moved to University of Maine Orono to further her education. After three years Cilla moved around with family. She lived with John and Kelly in Cheyenne, Wyoming and later with Ronda in Florida. Cilla joined the Navy to work on being in the Legal department as she wanted to become an attorney.
All of us kids liked collecting things:
- Ronda and Ronnie collected stamps and coins.
- I loved collecting ponies and later stamps.
- John collected baseball cards.
- Cilla collected rocks and put them in her second drawer of her bureau. The top drawer was reserved for her poop collection. I won’t go into it any further.
How were you and Grampa affected by World War II? Meaning, how were lifestyles changed. This can encompass the Great Depression too.
Really with the Great Depression, Dad got so bad he wouldn’t throw anything out, which was good for him since he ran a store. He could stock pile things and have the stock on hand to sell. That’s how the Depression helped him. Also, he became a junk man because he knew the difference between the different medals. Copper, aluminum comp, (which was short for composition) etc.
He used to take things apart: Motors and different metal items so he could recycle them for money. So when we lived out at the store, he had piles! He had black wire that he would be burning in a pile and it would make all this nauseous black smoke because he was melting the wire off of the copper that went through the electrical wires. Copper was the metal you get paid the most for while aluminum was a little further down the line and comp was worth nothing. Your Grandpa used to walk around with a magnet in his pocket because copper was magnetic.
I thought he did that because magnets were fun!
Even when Dad married Peggy, he still did junking for a few years. So it affected me by smelling this noxious burning of rubber and metal coverings. It also taught me a little bit about metals which helped me more in science.
Thinking of your childhood, what were your favorite books, music, bedtime stories, and nursery rhymes?
Favorite books: Things like “Aesop’s Fables,” the “Just So Stories” my dad used to tell us and of course the “and then” stories. It started when I was less than 10 years old and my Dad ran the store. Late at night he would still be downstairs running the store or restaurant or whatever its purpose was at the time. So when he went to get his noon meal the next day, he would take a short nap following the meal. He would always say that he just wanted a five minute nap, but all of us kids, whichever ones were around at the time, would crawl into bed on top of the covers and lay down next to him asking him to tell us a story.
Dad didn’t get much sleep during his five-minute nap because he was start telling a story, pausem say “and then” and tell a little bit more of the story, pause, and continue with “and then.” And this was the pattern of the story until all of us were asleep. Then he would slip back downstairs to go back to work. Perhaps that’s why I like storytelling so much and maybe that’s why [you kids and I] enjoyed “Summer of the Monkeys” because it was a funny story that we could all enjoy together
What was your first home? Describe it. Where were, or are, your other homes? Which were houses and which was where homes?
My first home with my family was on Weston Street in Augusta, which I don’t remember. My family has driven by and pointed it out to me. I believe it was a white house with black shutters. The second home is the one I really remember. It is the old house; Ron’s market – the store that my dad owned. That is where I grew up until I was about 10 years old. That’s when my brother, John, was my best friend. Once we move to Duncan Road in 197,1 things changed a lot. I had to walk to school most days and then back home which was a couple of miles. I had been used to riding the bus. I didn’t hang around with the same friends at school anymore. They still rode the bus and shared the cohesiveness from that group.
After school and on weekends, my brother and I could ride our bikes through the streets of the housing development. We would ride our bikes as if they were horses and would be knights in shining armor. We had to do various deeds around the neighborhood and get the other kids around us to join us. Then we built a fort in the woods and that was our castle/dungeon. But soon my brother took up baseball and his time was occupied with that sport. That left me alone to explore. I spent a lot of time in the piggery fields and woods. I started calling part of the piggery Wonderland because there was a small pond with flowers and lily pads in bloom. It was just so beautiful and wonderful. However, I felt very alone. I wanted my old friends and my brother back.
After my first husband and I were married, we got a small apartment that had 12 foot tall ceilings. We tried to make it our home by putting flowery rose colored wallpaper up. I had to stand on the kitchen table to be able to reach the top of the walls. I used flour and water for the paste! Many years later, I met someone that had that same apartment and the wallpaper was still hanging just as pristine as the day I hung it!
After we left the apartment, my mother helped us to finance a mobile home at a trailer park out in Vassalboro Maine. Richard and I got into a dispute with the trailer park manager over a German Shepherd puppy that we had. Instead of resolving the situation, we decided to move the trailer out of the park. We had arranged to have it towed to Mud Mill Road on his mother’s property. There was no heat, there was no water and no electricity. Richard and my dad installed a wood stove for heat. Rick’s mom, Marie, allowed us to use an extension cord from her house to our refrigerator. That is place where I had to bathe Becky in the sink or in a five gallon bucket because I had to haul the water.
This is also when Richard went into the service and we didn’t see him for months so once again, I felt very abandoned. I spent my days raising Becky, doing housework and taking her on long walks in the woods. For the next four years, we spent our time moving around to various military bases and then coming back to Maine while Richard served over in Germany. Then it was down to Georgia where we rented a horrible trailer. There, my daughter Sarah got attacked by a pitbull. The children and I were attacked by fire ants, which is extremely painful and there were rattlesnakes under the steps. That doesn’t even begin to explain the multitude of cockroaches everywhere.
Fortunately, we next moved into a brick house on Barcelona Drive. We lived there about 18 months or so then Richard and I went through a divorce so the children and I moved to Cusseta, Georgia just on the outskirts of the military base at Fort Benning in a trailer park. After John and I were married, we moved into a house on military housing at Fort Benning then from there we moved into a house off the base in public housing on Lamore Street in Columbus. We got a black cat and named her Lenore kind of playing off the name of the street and le noir because of her color.
I tried to make each place a home but with all the transition, including divorce, marriage and moving) is was very hard. They were more like houses with no souls. While we were living on Lamore Street, the children told my father and my stepmother about the child abuse they were going through. That is the reason we left that house. The children went to Maine with my father and stepmother. My second husband John went to prison and I moved back to Maine to get my children.
After that divorce, we moved to a farm house in Litchfield, Maine. We had a lot of privacy on 99 acres of land. It never seemed like a home either although we stayed for five years. Next was a trip to Massachusetts, with my third husband, where we moved in with my new mother-in-law for the next 10 years. Since it was his mother’s house, again it was just only a building – never home. The only part I liked was my little flower garden around the pond. My new son-in-law, Roger, my son Jeremiah and I dug the pond, lined it with a swimming pool liner, build a working waterfall and put flagstone around it. After we hung a hammock and placed the chairs, it became such a comforting place for me to be.
In 2007, I had a horrible accident and needed surgery on my neck. I stayed in Massachusetts while I had the first surgery and then moved in with my daughter Rebecca and her husband, Roger, and their two children in Biddeford, Maine. She had a nice apartment but it was too crowded for me to stay. After my divorce, I started dating David Page. We got married in 2010. With Dave, I live in northern Maine in Stacyville in a three bedroom house that really is our home. We put in a lot of sweat equity and personalized our house to be what we wanted.