How does one begin to summarize their life? I was born in rural Ohio. My father was an automotive mechanic. He liked building stock cars, coon hunting, and playing softball. My mom was a housewife and mother. Her favorite television shows were “As the World Turns” and “Murder She Wrote”. In her early twenties she developed paranoia schizophrenia. After a series of nervous break downs and hospitalizations she was placed on an anti psychotic medicine. She remained on this throughout her entire life.
I had one sibling, a sister, 4 years older than me.
We lived in 3 different places growing up. The first was a mobile home. Life was pretty much normal then, until we had neighbors move in beside us. The husband/ father of this family was in prison and the wife/ mother was an alcoholic. Their kids were pretty much left to fend for themselves. They would be on our front porch every morning, half dressed, carrying beer bottles, and would often times defecate on the porch or in the yard. The boys would steal our toys, throw worms in mom’s hair while gardening, and would often times punch me and my sister. That’s when dad decided to move. He rented us a house about 8 miles away. It was a huge house with lots of acres. We were told that the person who lived there before had hung himself, whether this was true we never knew. We did however find a crucifix, St. Christopher’s Medal, and a Catholic Priest Bible in the upstairs in a pile of trash. We never used the upstairs. Dad didn’t want the expense of heating a second floor so we never went up there. Downstairs we had the kitchen, a bathroom, living room/ bedroom, another bedroom, and a large spare room. The spare room was also closed off and we used it basically for storage. The landlord rented the farm buildings to people from town. They owned horses and ponies. We were able to play with these majestic animals daily and learned to consider them our own. When I was very young I used to climb the apple trees in the west field. I would pick apples from the higher branches and feed the ponies and horses. I also used to climb high in the corn cribs collecting ears of corn that had been left. The animals loved this treat. Some of the names of these wonderful animals was: Spice, Duke, Betsey, Pumpkin, Cherry Blossom, Charger, and Firefly. We had lots of cats and various hound dogs, bikes, a swing set, and lots of imagination. Looking back on those early years I suppose we would have been considered poor by most standards but we never considered ourselves such.
When I was 11 the landlord sold the property where we were living. He happened to own another very close to where we had originally lived. The horrible neighbors from our early years had done since moved away. It was a fair size farmhouse back a long country lane. It had three bedrooms upstairs, one downstairs, a kitchen and a living room. It didn’t have a bathroom though. The house had been rebuilt in the 50’s after the original dwelling had burned down. Why they didn’t put in an inside restroom is beyond me. There was an outhouse in the back yard, but we used chamber pots. Now that was an experience! These resemble cooking pots with lids. You basically use them like a toilet, but they must be dumped and cleaned periodically, a job that fell to my mother. I never realized what my mom put up with. It couldn’t have been easy what with two children and her. My dad used the outhouse, not sure why.