Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Back Home Again In Indiana
The house on Sunnyside Court. Note the split-level design and the metal antenna on the roof. A time before color TV when reception was marginal and only three or four channels were the norm. Yes, and houses were painted really tacky colors. (Fall 1962 - Summer 1963)
I was seven days into fifth grade when we moved from Roanoke, Virginia to Gary, Indiana. I left my best friend behind and I thought my nine year old life was over. Gary was a steel mill town on the south end of Lake Michigan. It was flat, you've never seen flat until you hit Indiana and Illinois, and it was dirty. The church was old and downtown. We have pictures showing huge water stains on the walls where rain seeped in from the unpatchable holes in the roof. Mom had to play the organ for services so I had to sit and take care of Stephen who was about nine months old. I made a new friend, Valerie but we never were as close as Mary and I in Virginia. She had a little sister. If the babies acted up in church we could take them down to the basement to the nursery. Stephen actually was better in church than Valerie's sister so sometimes I would pinch him to get him to make noise and then take him out; not often enough to get caught but occasionally.
The church didn't have a parsonage so the first year we were there they rented a house on Sunnyside Court. It seemed like a mansion to me. A split-level. Three bedrooms on one level then four or five steps down to living room, dining room and kitchen; then five or six more steps down into a paneled den. I remember this one having a built in bar that we got to use as a playhouse and a separate laundry room and storage. Here Stephen had his first birthday and his first haircut from a barber in our church. I remember the basement flooding and my cardboard Barbie Dream House getting soaked and falling apart in my hands. I remember my cousin, who was four at the time, visiting with her family. I had to sleep with her and in the middle of the night she had an accident and wet the bed. I had to get my mom to change it and then I really wanted to sleep on the floor for the rest of the night.
This house had a back entry into the kitchen; up about four steps to a small stoop. The stoop was about 3½ feet up from the ground and we kept the garbage cans next to it. One night as we came in from church, Mom had Stephen and I went up first to hold the storm door open. It was dark and I had to take a couple of steps back letting Dad get to the lock. Unfortunately, "two steps back" was one step too many and I stepped into air. I fell backwards off the stoop. Fortunately, I suppose, the lid was off of the metal garbage can. I fell bottom, buttocks, butt first into the can. There I was feet up, arms up and butt down in the can. Mom was hysterical. She thought I was dead. I was not dead. I was stuck; in the garbage can! Then when they realized I was not dead or bleeding or even scratched, it became funny, but only for them. I was still stuck! When they finally regained control of themselves (i.e. could stop laughing) Dad pulled me out. I thanked God for small miracles that night; not thankful that I hadn't been hurt, but rather grateful that it was dark and that their laughing had not disturbed the neighbors with their bright backyard spotlight.
I'm glad we only lived in that house for one year.
Notice the loafers and white socks; the buck teeth not yet fixed by the braces and the long "machine gun case" purse Mom carried with her white gloves. More signs of the times.