Tag Archives: childhood

Looking Back Through the Window

DAILY PROMPT
Window
Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/window/

                                                                                                            

As the emergency alert sirens blasted through the neighborhood on Saturdays at one in the afternoon, I looked through the window. When I was young, I waited for my father to come by and pick me up for his four hours of custody time on those Saturdays. Never 5 hours, 3 hours, and not even 4 hours and one minute. My mother made it clear that he had only four hours a week and only between the hours specified by the court system after the divorce.

So I waited by the small, rectangular window looking out the front door for his car. He would be there on the dot at 1 p.m. just as the testing of the emergency sirens started to sound. Or he would not. Then the phone would ring as my mother answered and he told her he was not coming that week. That happened quite a few times.

One time I was surprised to hear my mother and grandmother, who were usually hateful toward my father, express sympathy toward me when he failed to show up. I was left looking out the window for nothing and they felt kind of sorry for me missing out on the time with my father. Sympathy and nurturing were never their strong suit, so I still remember their kind words.

My father found a girlfriend and liked to spend time with her rather than me. I guess I understood. Later when I had a child of my own, he said that taking care of a child was a lot of work. I can’t imagine how he would know. He spent such a small part of his life with me. When I got to be an older teenager, he didn’t come around for over five years.

I try to forget the past, but too often memories flood through my head. Even today, the sirens still sound their alarm on Saturdays warning us of potential disasters.

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Admit Impediments

Connie and I were the last two kids to live in our houses. We were the same age and only saw each other through the fence between our postage-stamp size backyards. She never came over to my yard to play and I never went over to her.

We passed a few small things back and forth between the fence, maybe some leaves or flowers or very small toys. We could never hold each other’s dolls. And of course human contact is not easy through chain link.

Was this fence the beginnings of the self-inflicted barriers I placed on my personal relationships throughout my life? Maybe it is why I crave isolation.

I suspect my mother and grandmother had their reasons for maintaining this barrier. They were distrustful and critical of other people. Better to keep a distance. Our two houses were destined for demolition so why bother to cultivate friendships? They would never go out of their way to find Connie’s new house and take me there for a visit. And they certainly wouldn’t want extra kids over at their house.

I still think about Connie at times and wonder what path she took in life. Does she remember the incarceration?

Nobody Home

DAILY PROMPT
Our House
What are the earliest memories of the place you lived in as a child? Describe your house. What did it look like? How did it smell? What did it sound like? Was it quiet like a library, or full of the noise of life? Tell us all about it, in as much detail as you can recall.

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An old, two-story, two-family home in the city. The upstairs was an exact footprint of the downstairs: three bedrooms, one bathroom, living room, dining room, and kitchen.

A very small patch of a yard both front and back. No driveway, only an alley to the garage. The pathway between the house and the neighbor’s was so narrow that you could stretch your arms out and touch the sides of each house.

A girl my age lived in that house so close to us. I played with her through the fence. I don’t remember ever playing with her in the yard. I don’t know why.

The neighbor lady on the other side of us kept boarders. I remember watching her iron clothes one night through a bedroom window that looked into her dining room. About six or seven of her boarders sat around and watched her iron clothes that probably belonged to them. Sometime during my peeping experience, one of the boarders spied me spying on them through the window. They laughed and I ran off.

The key to the house was the hollow, barrel type that may have last been popular a hundred years ago. I still have it since it is an interesting looking thing. If I were crafty I would display it in a nice memory box. No such luck, I have no artsy motivation.

Before I was born, coal used to get dumped through a basement window to power the furnace. The company that probably delivered the coal was People’s Ice & Coal Company. I know that because I still have an awl with their company name imprinted on it, possibly a marketing tool (literally) for their customers. The ice they sold for those ice boxes used to keep food fresh before the electric cord took over. Their motto: Save Food, Flavor, Money With Ice.

The kitchen had neither counters nor cabinets. A pantry right off the kitchen made up for the lack of storage space. An old gas stove sat about a foot away from the wall because it was connected to a large pipe that sat between it and the wall. I remember because I used to hide back there sometimes.

The china cabinet in the seldom used dining room had a ring-style door pull that I repeatedly tried to unscrew from the inside of the door. They said I would become an engineer because of this curiosity in how stuff works. They were so wrong.

Victrola from the attic

Victrola from the attic

When we were moving, the attic was empty except for a wind-up Victrola. They let me ride my tricycle in the attic that day they packed up. From the attic level, the stairway had no railings, it was only a rectangle hole in the floor. I rode toward the hole and down the stairs. I survived as you can see. The Victrola did not, it never made it to the new house.

The day we moved, I stayed in the empty house with my grandmother. I had the house key which was attached to a ribbon. I was terrified of the unoccupied upstairs flat and yet I kept running up and down to the second level, throwing the key out the open window. I must have done this dozens of times before my mother came back to bring me to the new house.

Now the bottom floor was deserted too. I don’t think we locked the door. Soon the wreaking ball came and leveled the house.