July 14, 2010

50 Places I've Lived - The Best and The Worst

I've been working on this story for a couple days as I anticipate my 50th address change in 60 years! Packing is ahead of schedule, giving me time to do what I love best. Hubby can always tell when I'm working on a writing project because there are half-empty Diet Dr. Pepper cans sitting all around me, and I come to bed at 3 a.m.

This is a lengthy, personal, posting, but one that will leave a legacy of my life. Much can be found in my book, Dusty Angels and Old Diaries, but some information here is new. Some of you will never finish reading this, because it is excessively long. Others will, hopefully, thank me.

My sister, Sandy, helped me compile places and dates of where we lived when we were small, because her long-term memory has always been better than mine. She will never forget the many, mysterious, middle-of-the-night, moves from one state to the other when we were barely tall enough to see out the car window.

Both of us wish we could forget the living hell at some of the places grandma chose for us to stay.

But, today's journey from Columbus, OH to the foothills of the majestic Rocky Mountains west of the Mississippi, is one of the most organized and positive experiences of any of my lifetime moves, although there are lingering questions as to if we will find work, and if we will really like our new place once the dust settles!

(When I told a friend that neither of us had confirmed work, he said we should start unpacking right now! A job has been offered, but not promised.)

Traveling with me once again, is the little red diary started in 1964 that has managed to stay by my side for the last 46 years and 30 address changes! It was my first diary - and the basis for part of my memoir, Dusty Angels and Old Diaries.

My friend, TL, always says that a person should leave a little room for mystery about themselves, and sharing a life story such as this one leaves the heart wide open. But, I think you will find that I have been discrete, and it won't be published until hubby gives the web-security thumbs-up. lol

One of my friends posted on Facebook that she has moved 70 times. A longtime friend here in Ohio has held steady with the same job for most of her life. A classmate in RN school boasted of having lived all over the world. Some people live light and travel a lot. Others (like me) live heavy and move around a lot. Building my resume is a ... challenge?

Then, there's my little sister who has fortified her home with steady improvements and special comforts for all to enjoy. She won't mind me saying that many years ago, her only home was a little bitsy, cream yellow, Datsun station wagon, on a side street in Tampa, FL. She says what she hated the worst was having to bathe in the gas station bathrooms or at the local bar. What she liked the best was being able to lock the doors to her little home.

Our home today is one of the sweetest places I have ever lived. It's a corner apartment across from a little pond where you can watch the daily antics of ducks, geese, turtles and maybe a snake or two. Our little back yard borders a small nest of trees and a rippling creek where deer hide out during the day before coming to our feeding station each evening. It also harbors safe haven for foxes, rabbits, and a grey squirrel or two. Our favorite black cat, Samantha, rests in a shallow grave by the pond.

Everything we want for daily living is at our back door. Grocery stores are convenient. Restaurants are abundant. Our family doctor is the best. Our chiropractors (husband and wife) are the greatest! We have good friends, a favorite hairdresser, kind office staff at the front office, and trustworthy maintenance staff.

So, do we have bats in the belfry for even thinking of uprooting to a place we've never really seen - for reasons we can't explain?

Think what you wish. We can, and we are.

Ok. Are you ready for the list? I'm going to mention something I liked and disliked about each place while trying to avoid too much detail.

1950 - Born on September 3, or 6, or 9, on a cool fall day in New York City (Manhattan), I spent some days with my mother who shared her time between her parent's place on Bleecker Street with her first two children, and the place where she and my dad lived somewhere in the city.

1952 - Before my little sister, Sandy, was born in 1952, we were living with my dad's relatives in Tampa, FL. During this time, we know that my mom lived in several places with different family members depending on who was speaking to whom. She sang at the Tampa Theatre. She had a difficult delivery with my sister without my dad being there to support her.

1953 - By the time I was three-years-old, my mother was back in New York City with me and my baby sister. Her mother was sick and couldn't take care of the two older children. After her mother passed away, my mother walked away from all of us and disappeared without a trace. We lost track of our older siblings and our mother for over 30 years.

1954 - I spent my 4th birthday in the city orphanage of NYC. Sandy and I were admitted to Saint Barnabas House, A Temporary Shelter for Women and Children, 304 Mulberry Street, New York, NY on August 12, 1954. I remember getting shots (and crying). I also remember the joy of being able to see my baby sister on a mattress beside my crib. Sandy was 18-months-old.

1955 - In early June 1955, the papers indicate I was discharged from Saint Barnabas House. (It also lists the dates of all my shots!) My sister, Sandra, and I were (by family accounts) picked up from the orphanage on that balmy June day by a family member on my dad's side. "Uncle Harvey" from Tampa, FL. (Google says it was 68 degrees in NYC on the day we left.)

1955 - We found ourselves in Tampa once again. I carried a little suitcase with me everywhere I went, because I was always expecting my mother to come and get us. Officially, we lived with Aunt Tina and Uncle Harvey. Unofficially we lived with grandma and grandpa (my dad's mom) in an unsettled environment and with an often angry, unbridled, woman.

1955 - We sometimes stayed at grandpa's family home in Tampa, where he lived most of the time with his big house full of Spanish siblings. We loved staying there, but grandma didn't like his people being so nice to us.

1956 - A big white house with a large living room is burned into my mind because it was in that room that two women came and tried to force grandma to give us up after I had been taken to the emergency room for unexplained bruises all over my body. Grandma followed them in our car as they went for help (no cell phones back then), and we left the state for somewhere in Georgia.

1956 - Wildwood Sanitarium near Chattanooga, TN where I was treated for some form of blood dyscrasia. I didn't like the grape juice with a raw egg several times a day. I loved the kind nurses and doctors.

1956 - Underground place with a creek that ran through the back and railroad tracks over the top. Didn't like anything about that place. (It was close to Wildwood. I don't think they let grandma stay at Wildwood.) Yep, that's where grandma tried to drown Sandy underground.

1956 - (Three places at least.) Rising Fawn, Georgia. We think this is on Lookout Mountain. We do clearly remember living with several different families while there. Desmond T. Doss was one family. We enjoyed playing in the fields with Tommy Doss who was a little older than we were. The Derryberry's were another kind family. But, the living hell place was the old school house that literally crawled with mice and roaches. I overcame my fear of scampering mice in our bed and roaches in our hair at night when I saw a bright angel kneeling in prayer in the bedroom window.

1957 - Waycross, Ga. (At least two places). We lived in a house next to the SDA church for a while, and we also lived in the welfare apartments there. I remember worrying about the end of time. I had my first little boyfriend, Dwight, who later died. (I think he was hit by a school bus.) We grew close to an older couple who often invited us into their home. Mary always served us delicious meals and tasty treats.

1958 - Grandma moved us to Avon Park, Florida. She worked at Walker Memorial Hospital in the physical therapy department. Grandpa lived with his Spanish siblings in Tampa during the week and worked at his family business, the Mascunana Print Shop. We started formal school at the Seventh-day Adventist School there, and we lived in an old Army barracks. I was intrigued with the walls that were all formed with movable barrack closets. The huge, stark, bathroom intimidated me. I never liked going in there. It made lots of strange sounds too!

1960 - This is the year grandma suddenly hustled us off to Missouri in the back of Uncle Harvey's big, hot, dark, suffocating, semi truck. This experience is best explained in my book.

1961 - The unfinished bunkhouse in Missouri was without water or electricity. (Situated on Carver Creek between Annapolis and Ironton, MO.) We were often cold and sick, but we loved the comfort of our little white kitten during cold winter nights when the snow would blow in through the cracks and cover our mattress with fine lines of snow.

1962 - Move to another house on Carver Creek. It had electricity and cold running water in the kitchen. It is also detailed in my book. I enjoyed learning to play the piano for the seven-member SDA Church, but we endured severe beatings and very hard labor from grandma. This house had solid windows but no bathroom.

1965 - Grandma made this planned move from Missouri to Ozark Academy at Gentry, AR at the urging of church members who said I needed formal education. Oh, how I hated to leave my beloved horse, Princess. (She had to be put down.) I also really missed my mother and wondered if I would ever find her and my siblings. I was 15-years-old.

1965 - At Gentry, Sandy wasn't adjusting to formal rules and difficult teachers. We moved to several houses while there. (Maybe grandma wasn't paying the rent?) Grandma was part owner of a nursing home, so we did a lot of KP duty at the nursing home when we should have been doing our homework. Wow!!! I loved Ozark Academy those two school years (9th and 10th grade). I learned to play the flute and was in the school band back in 1966! It broke my heart when grandma pulled us out.

1967 - We rolled up to Laurelbrook School with rags hanging from the trunk of the car, according to old pictures. Grandma allowed us live in the girls dorm for my junior year at Laurelbrook. My nurses aide skills from working at the nursing home in Gentry were useful and overly appreciated at the Laurelbrook San. I don't think my grandma's presence there helped endure us to the staff. I adjusted well to most of the rules. Sandy didn't, and was not accepted by the school. I flourished in the noisy dorm and avoided getting in trouble when I sneaked out of bed to take warm, sudsy, baths after lights out.

1968 - We left the dorm life to return to grandma's dark, filthy, trailer about two miles from the school. We lived out of old boxes and suffered from massive fleabites. They were everywhere including in our bunk beds. My comfort was school during the day and work in the san at night. (Yep, that was comfort.) Poor Sandy. Never got a chance! That's in my book too.

1969 - Graduation from Laurelbook. I left everything and everybody for a move to Dayton, OH where I lived with a former Laurelbrook staff family. I attended the 13-month Licensed Practical Nursing Program in Dayton, OH and loved the nourishing, home-cooked meals, clean kitchen, and cute antics of the three children. I was scared of the basement where the washer and dryer were. And, I was terrified of the flushing toilet, but I didn't tell anyone.

1970 - Moved in with a doctor and his family from Kettering Hospital who had better transportation for me to attend school downtown. I enjoyed a modern home with every convenience imaginable. Some things I had no idea how to use! I missed Sandy and didn't like having to take all my shots over again. (No records.) I was engaged to marry BC.

1971 - Moved back to TN with grandma until my wedding. Grandma lived in a trailer that had water provided by a garden hose stuck through the kitchen window. Didn't like that we couldn't use the toilet or bathe there. Looked forward to my wedding day!

1971 - Newlywed! Lived at Collegedale, TN while my new husband finished college. The basement apartment was bright and CLEAN. I loved listening to all BC's record collection and taking long, hot, baths! Loved my first job as a LPN. Secretly LOVED our unplanned pregnancy!!! Didn't love the nausea and vomiting that lasted nine months day and night.

1971 - Moved to Burtonsville, MD with his parents due to the war and expectations that my new husband would soon be sent to Vietnam. Loved the big, nicely decorated, family home but was very sick all the time due to the pregnancy.

1971 - Moved back to Laurelbrook where I wanted baby Billy to be born if his daddy was off at war. Loved the look of my tummy. (ha ha) Didn't like Bill working all hours of the day and night at Laurelbrook. Oh, about the place. Liked the privacy of our mobile home set back in the woods. Didn't like that it was so small that our bed completely filled the bedroom!

1973 - We moved across campus to the girls' dorm at Laurelbook where I was girls' dean before we moved to the boys' dorm where Bill was boys' dean. Loved that Billy had a cute boat-bed in his bedroom. Didn't like the lack of privacy in either place! "Knock and Enter" was the understood rule.
1975 - Philip was born while we lived in the boys' dorm. Liked the camaraderie with everyone and renting out my washer and dryer to the boys. Didn't like the 8 a.m. work meeting every morning right outside my window!

1976 - Moved back to Collegedale to a sparse but comfortable trailer in the college mobile home park. Loved the fragrant cookie smell from the Little Debbie cookie factory. Didn't like Bill working nights and leaving me alone with the babies. However, I thought the mobile home was a place I could keep clean and sweet.

1976 - Moved to SDA Little Creek School at Knoxville, TN. I hated everything about that place. I insisted that we leave immediately. Worked nights at the nursing home there. I think we lived in a trailer, but I most remember the unbearable feelings of loneliness.

1976 - Apartment at University of Tennessee. Loved that the boys had a playground. Loved working at UT Hospital. Didn't like BC studying ALL the time. Had photos of the boys taped all over the living room wall in our apartment.

1977 - Cleveland, OH. Our first home. A real cute Cape Cod house with a dishwasher. Loved fixing up the house. Loved selling Avon. Almost got electrocuted to death by the dishwasher.

1977 - Moved to Berrien Springs, MI. Our two-story house on Third Street had two rental units upstairs. Loved the lilac bush outside my kitchen window and a large rose bush by the telephone pole in the yard. Didn't like the smelly living room carpet we could never afford to get cleaned and the fireplace we couldn't use because the chimney was cracked. Billy started five-year-old kindergarten at Andrews. Just me and baby Philip during the day.

1982 - Moved across town to Highland Drive. Bigger house. Loved my little office and the pretty wallpaper on the staircase wall. We had a one-car garage! Boys each had a bedroom! Didn't like the sump pump in the basement that was connected to the washer. Didn't like the leaky furnace. Didn't like the septic tank backing up.

1994 - Many changes in my life. After the divorce, I felt venerable and all alone. Moved in with someone I shouldn't have. Did a lot of free labor there that no one knew about!

1994 - Moved back to my home on Highland Drive.

1997 - Moved with new hubby to Baltimore, OH. First Christmas in our new home. Loved the small town feeling with everything on one corner! Didn't like the small apartment that needed a woman's touch.

1998 - Rented a larger apartment closer to Columbus. Lots of room and some storage. Not a very safe part of town, we found out. Out apartment got broken into. Never felt safe after that. Time to move on.

1999 - Bought a lovely mobile home in Columbus. Loved the space and nice neighbors. Loved planting flowers around our home. Didn't like a strange odor that permeated everything. Later discovered an open sewer line and pools of sewage under the mobile home that no one could remove! Time to move on.

2000 - Bought a five-bedroom home in Columbus. I thought my angels led me to this place. Thought we would live there forever. Loved the hundreds of tulips we planted. Loved the photography studio in the basement. Loved the deck hubby build for us. Was terrified of the sump pump in the basement that came on every few minutes. Discovered the house was built over a living spring!!! The basement would start filling with water if the electric went off, and the back-up pump didn't work. Time to move on.

2003 - Sold everything not attached and moved to Tampa, FL. Loved the small rental near Bayshore Drive. Loved living close to Sandy. Didn't like the long drive to work, and didn't like my nursing jobs. Maybe I should have liked that house more.

2004 - Relocated to nice apartment complex in North Tampa. Loved looking out the second-story window to natural wetlands. Didn't like climbing all the steps to the apartment. Loved swimming in the pool after work. Didn't like living so far from Sandy. Hubby didn't like the hot, humid, weather of Florida.

December 2004 - Returned to Columbus, OH where we live now, but in a second floor apartment. Loved the safety and security of living on the second floor. Loved my balcony garden of flowers. Loved all the big windows. Loved the little 8x8 "Angel Room". Didn't love the cold air from the windows in the wintertime. Almost couldn't make it up the 24 steps to the apartment every time we went in and out with the two dogs. Getting too old for this.

2007 - Selected a ground floor apartment that came available. Like I said, it is the most perfect place to live, but it's getting a bit small. Because we live right on the ground, we get little bugs, spiders, ants, and strange crawling things from outside. We love the two, large, walk-in closets! The kitchen is sweet! Our flower garden right outside the door is welcoming. Hubby bought me my favorite flower bush and planted the honeysuckle plant next to the front door. We love our Diana rose bush that I brought from Michigan. We will never forget this place because I have all our favorite pictures on a digital photo frame that will always remind us of our last Columbus home.

July 2010 - I am "jumping the Mississippi". Going to live, "Out West" for first time in my life.

We look forward to new beginnings and golden hugs at sunset, as the long arms of the soft, evening sun reaches out to us from those massive snow-covered mountains!

Take Care on the Journey
Especially this one!

Your friend in life

... no matter where I live!

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