Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Remembrance of things past (part the first)

It occurs to me that I keep showing you odd bits of stuff like that film of San Francisco in 1906 but never tell you much about myself.

Today I will tell you much a little about myself.

Of average height and average weight, I am a 72-year-old man who spent the last week in September in a hospital where a great deal of poking and prodding and sticking with needles and photographing of my innards and receiving a couple of pints of blood and a few other things too horrible to think about took place. And that was just at the admissions desk.

I was born in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, (it’s the smallest state in the union, and it’s in New England) because I wanted to be near my mother, and she happened to be there at the time.

We lived in a third-floor apartment of a house at 61 Larch Street and my pediatrician was a Dr. Kachichian. I attended the Pawtucket Day Nursery while my mother, who had received a teaching certificate from West Chester State College in Pennsylvania, worked at the Coats & Clark Thread Factory. My teachers were Miss Irma Chisholm and Mrs. Yvonne Schack. A Portuguese woman in the neighborhood would sometimes take care of me as well and give me apple pie and pastrami for breakfast.

One day at recess, while two children were playing on a seesaw, one jumped off and the other, a black boy named Peter, fell and hurt himself. His arm was bleeding, and I noticed that his blood was red just like mine. I decided on the spot that people are alike on the inside and it is only on the outside that we are different.

When I was about four or five, a man wearing a white sailor uniform began visiting my mother occasionally. My mother called him “Ted” and so did I. Eventually he moved in permanently and my mother told me to call him “Daddy” from then on.

I went to Hancock Street Elementary School to Mrs. Mullins’s kindergarten class, but after four days she took me to first grade. Apparently Pawtucket Day Nursery had done its job well, because I was answering all the questions and telling all the other children the answers. My teacher in first grade was Miss Edith Wildegoose.






(Here I am in the spring of 1947 as a student in Miss Edith Wildegoose’s first grade class. I was six.)







In August 1947 we moved from Rhode Island to Fort Worth, Texas,
on a train. It took three days. We arrived on one of the hottest days in the history of Fort Worth, Texas, and walked several blocks from the Texas & Pacific Railroad Station to the Majestic Hotel, which was inaptly named, carrying our luggage. One day, while leaving the hotel to get something to eat, I saw a hotel employee whose skin was so black it was almost blue, who had the whitest teeth and the whitest jacket I had ever seen, sweeping little black things off the sidewalk into little piles in the gutter and setting them on fire. The little black things turned out to be live crickets, and the smell was beyond awful. I was scarred for life in that instant.

A few days later we moved to a boarding house in the Arlington Heights section of Fort Worth. Mrs. Cash, who owned the boarding house, spent her days telling everyone who would listen that her close relative, actress Faye Emerson, was married to Elliott Roosevelt, the son of the President. The phrase “six degrees of separation” had not yet been invented, and actor Kevin Bacon was not born until 1958, but Mrs. Cash was eager for all to know that she was associated with the rich and famous.

My parents eventually rented a small post-war bungalow on a horseshoe-shaped street (2332 Chandler Drive East, on the other end of the horseshoe from Chandler Drive West) and I was enrolled into Mrs. Wolfe’s second-grade class at Oakhurst Elementary School.

I was not to experience urban life for long. In the spring of 1948, we moved again to a three-acre plot two miles from a little town that boasted a one-block-long business district with a traffic signal at both ends. I was to live there for the next ten years.

19 comments:

All Consuming said...

This is so nice, an insight into the man behind, or st in the middle of the blog. There's so littel we often know of each other in this fast paced blogger world, other than snippets here and there, a piece of your history is most welcome and very interesting. Also, modern technology makes it feasible to go to Google maps, put in that address you have written down and then head into street view at the end of said horseshoe, where the bungalows can clearly be seen! The future is here it would seem *smiles. Thank you for the info, if there's any more coming that would be delightful.

Elephant's Child said...

Wow. And what a memory you have. And I love that you wanted to be close to your mother - she must have been very grateful. Birth by correspondence would be challenging - for all concerned.

Putz said...

i really do know this comment has nothing at all to do with you and even though you were cuter than me i still have to say what i have to say,.,.,.my geneology just got expanded by someone doing work on my william kirk line and his father married a dorothy wildgoose, and i have no idea how to check it out<><>can't help me can yu???

rhymeswithplague said...

All Consuming, if you want to stalk neighborhoods where I used to live, I suppose there's nothing I can do to stop you!

Elephant's Child, birth by correspondence is an idea whose time has not yet come.

Putz, actually your comment does have something to do with my post. You talked about dorothy wildgoose and I talked about Edith Wildegoose. Besides having an extra "e," mine also used capital letters. Are they related? I have no idea. But it is an unusual name, isn't it?

A Lady's Life said...

I alsoremember more of my elementary days than when I went to highschool.
Probably cause I never liked our highschool lol
This was an interesting post.I am glad everything went well for you at the hospital

rhymeswithplague said...

A Lady's Life, I remember my high school days also! Maybe there will be "part the second" and "part the third"....

LightExpectations said...

I am looking forward to "part the second" and "part the third"! Not to mention, more photos! (I ask you, how precious can a 6-year-old get??)

All Consuming said...

Putz - I'll ask my dad what the program he uses is to trace his family tree and he's been doing it for years and found out a huge amount. Then I'll let you know on here.

Rhymes, stalking houses no-one I know lives in, blimey, has it come to this? Apparently so *laughs.

Carol In Cairns said...

Yes, I am in awe of your memory for detail Sir RWP. Hope all is still going well in your recovery.

rhymeswithplague said...

All Consuming, anyone who comes stalking around here is apt to get whapped with a shillelagh! Or a baseball bat! Or hear someone doing dog impressions. I'm just sayin'...

Carol in Cairns, I am getting stronger day by day. I'm not all the way back yet. Today is better than yesterday, and tomorrow will be better than today. Thanks for asking.

rhymeswithplague said...

LightExpectations, somehow your comment got deleted before it could be published, but I did see it, and I want to thank you for saying I was the most precious six-year-old in the history of the whole wide world (or something like that)! Your check is in the mail.

Putz said...

i appre3ciate michelle looking into dorothy wildgoose since this all happened in 1768 in england,.,.,.THE VERY MOST PRECIOUS 6 YEAR OLD IN THE HISTORY<><>ALPHALPHA ON THE LITTLE RASCALS????

Yorkshire Pudding said...

It was like the first chapter of an autobiography. I can't wait for the next chapters - especially the one that really must include your saucy activities in Sweden all those years ago and your first kiss. As a running title for your autobiography, may I suggest "Rhymes With Plague". Just an idea - can't think how I dreamt it up.

rhymeswithplague said...

Putz, my own opinion is that Spanky McFarland was much more precious than Alfalfa, who sported a cowlick.

Yorkshire Pudding, it wasn't just like the first chapter of an autobiography, it was the first chapter of an autobiography. Who knows when there may be another?

Snowbrush said...

All this from a blogger who recently made a point of telling his readers not to expect much of a personal nature from him. Well, what happened? Why this departure--was it connected to your recent hospitalization, which is surely the second one in as many years that sounds like it might have resulted in death?

rhymeswithplague said...

Snowbrush, my first inclination is to say "No! -- but you may have a point. It turns out that my episodes didn't really qualify as "brushes with death" after all, but they were scary as [all get out] nonetheless.

Egghead said...

I forgot how much I like to read your posts. I know I am missing from action in the blog world.....SO busy. But I am glad I read this little tidbit about you as a child. I hope you write more. So sorry you were in the hospital and hope everything is well now.

Egghead said...

So glad I popped in to read this entry. I know I have been missing in blog world....SO busy. But I enjoyed a peek into your childhood and do hope you continue to write.

rhymeswithplague said...

Egghead (Vonda) it's good to hear from you again after such a long time. Hope all is well with you & the farmer, and I'm glad you enjoy reading my blog.