Reading my mom's journal is truly fascinating. Perhaps it is because I knew the folks she writes about. And, of course, it sometimes is about me. I've learned that she was thrilled that I was a baby girl.
She said that even my brother was thrilled to have a baby sister, like his friends had. My brother is five years older than I and I couldn't imagine him being thrilled about not being an only child any longer. And I may have learned a clue about why we've never been close. Once when he was holding me I wet on him! Mom said she was getting ready to bathe me and someone came to the door. She asked Jim to hold me while she tended to the door. I didn't have rubber pants on because she had started to undress me. So . . . She said that was the last time he ever held me!
While she was pleased to have a girl, I can't imagine her being terribly pleased she was pregnant. It was a difficult time for her. She and my dad were separated and she and Jim were struggling to make it on their own. They depended a lot on the kindness and generosity of family and friends. For the first few months of my pregnancy she tried to continue working as a beautician, in spite of the social rules that said pregnant women were not to be seen in public.
Her pregnancy didn't show because she was too sick to eat and didn't gain any weight for a long time. She said she lived on oranges and coffee. She was being treated for "nerves and low blood." I assume she meant she was anemic, as she had mentioned that she had struggled with that when she was younger.
She also said she didn't remember a lot about that time because she had blocked it as just too difficult. I can relate. I've done the same with periods of my life.
Apparently I nearly didn't survive my first month. At two weeks old I had bronchial pneumonia. The doctor came to the house and brought a vaporizer. He put a sheet over the handles of the bassinet with the vaporizer under it for fifteen minutes every two hours four about twelve hours, letting my mom rest after being up with me for many nights. I pulled through and thrived.
Then at nearly two years old I had my tonsils out the same time as my mom had hers out. We shared a hospital room. Can you imagine? She says I cried from the moment they brought her back from surgery until hours after they brought me back to the room from surgery. She was worried about the crying making my throat even worse. She says my grandmother (Lucinda) curled up in bed with me to calm me down and help me get to sleep. What an ordeal for my mom!
After that, though I think I was pretty healthy. At least as a child. I was in the first kindergarten in the District at Avondale Elementary. Kindergarten wasn't the norm for schools then. My mom was very involved in the PTA and had helped get the kindergarten started, raising money to hire a teacher. I don't really have memories of that time of my life, just photos and stories I've heard my mom tell. Apparently I was very smart, loved books and school. We learned how to cross the street with a traffic light, had one in the classroom.
Oh, I do remember my vaccination before I could start school. It scabbed over and one day I was running in the hall and a teacher grabbed me by the arm to stop me. I remember that it hurt. That was the first of a couple of vaccinations, none of which ever took. I have no scar at all.
I do remember the school, as I attended there through sixth grade. It is a big stone school and had wooden floors that always smelled of the oil they cleaned with. There was a big furnace in the basement with huge round pipes that sent the heat up to the rooms. I had mostly good teachers. I don't remember their names, though. I remember going to summer school one year because when I started school they had two classes starting different times each year - Fall and Winter. I started in winter when I was not quite six because my birthday is in February. Then when I was in fifth grade they wanted to eliminate the two different classes and combine the A group with the B group. They sent the Winter group to summer school to advance half a grade so we would be even with the Fall group.
That meant I started that Fall in the Sixth Grade. I was younger than most of the kids but I had no trouble keeping up. We had the same teacher that taught Summer school, Mr. James Teft, and I had fallen in love with him. It was the first male teacher we ever had in our grade school and he was right out of college. He was young, enthusiastic and had lots of creative ideas about how to teach us our lessons. I loved it.
I was thriving in school and thought life was pretty great. My mom's life, however, did not get much easier, she had a lot of stress and heartbreak. I'll write more about her later, as I'm reading more about her young married and middle years now. Not always a happy tale, I'm afraid.
I may write more about my school years at some later date. Robin wants me to write my memories like my mom and my great aunt had. We'll see.
Have you written about your memories of childhood? Do you keep a journal now? What do you write in it?