Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My Childhood

Indianapolis, Indiana 1929
The tall, unhappy looking girl in the picture is my sister Aileen; I am the little girl sitting on the arm of the setee: I was two years old, and in the next year we left our home in a 1929 Model T Ford to move to California, a trip that reportedly took eleven days. My father's brother lived near San Francisco with his wife and son, and had convinced my father through correspondence by letters exchanged that we should move there because of the mild climate that was recommended for my sister Etheldella, (in the spectacles) who had Rheumatic Fever and was frail; she was nine, my sister Aileen was eleven and my brother Warren was six. My father was a policeman on the Indianapolis Police Department and we lived on Spann AvenuIndianapolis, in a two story house of which I have fleeting memories of dark woodwork and warm stoves. My only clear memory of this time was that I wore one piece underwear called a "union suit" that had garters attached that held up long stockings. I hated the high top shoes and the long stockings itched. According to family stories my father quit his job, they sold their house, and auctioned their belongings, anything that did not fit in a Model T was sold....my father mourned his books and my mother mourned her china. She had somehow managed to find room for a small porcelein tea set that was decorated with a technique called Copper Luster that had belonged to her mother and was marked with "Nippon" on the underside of the saucers and teapot...I don't know what happened to that set, but I was not there when after her death her few belongings were divided by my older sisters.
So begins the memories of my life in the Twentieth Century, a defining time in the history of the nation; defining because of the rapid changes that began with the industrial revolution and gradually changed the country from an agrarian culture into an urban culture, a century that began with gas lights and coal furnaces and ended with electric illumination and efficient air conditioning, from "coolers" and root cellars to freezers and refrigerators, a country that wrote letters to a country that sent messages over the internet, and a country that traveled by horse and buggy, horse drawn street cars, trains and steamships to one that had thousands of miles of freeways congested with automobiles, airplanes crowding the skies and rockets to space. Change was so rapid that I went from owning a Commodore 64 with floppy disc storage and MS-Dos to owning an IBM laptop with Windows Vista within less than fifteen years. This was my century, and my memories and observations are many and varied and mostly of a full and rewarding life, a life of adaptation to changing conditions, and purposeful observations that led to a gradually changing philosophy.
The country is again at a vital cross-roads, the pendulum of political opinion swinging from one extreme to another, and at a point of precarious balance that causes me to fear for my great-grandchildren. It is for them I want to share my personal history and offer them insights and strategies developed over my 84 years. I hope their children will not be communicating with cave paintings.

Indianapolis, Indiana 1929


Unknown said...

You have written this post so well, it allows me a step back in time to your childhood memories, so they become mine of you and your migration west with Grandpa and Grandma. Amazing. I will share these posts with my children and my grandchildren, so they too can know their history. It is important to know our history and what shaped our lives that make us what we are today. I appreciate your writing this family history. With gratitude and love I will continue reading. I will be the storyteller for our future and current grandchildren.

Kittisplace said...

I am so glad that I thought to just post these memories and research on Blogspot. It is much easier to post than Multiply is, because you can use java and HTML...which I tend to do on Wordpad before I copy/paste the text here....I don't know if any of the grandkids will care about this but I do know that you do, and that is enough for me.