Jean Lund's Blog











A serious writer always has a project in the works.

All material on this site has North American Rights

© 2001-2011

 Prelude:

This autobiography is for my grandchildren. I want to let them who I am incase they ask someday because there is no-one who really knows, not even their parents.   So my story is dedicated to Amanda, James Tyler (J.T.), Alyssa, Vincenzo (Vinny) (who is my heart light and was actually my inspiration to write my life’s story)  and Joey my little munchkin and Vinny’s baby brother.

Someday I will be happy

CHAPTER ONE

In the spring of 1951, my mother, Patricia O’Brien found out that she was pregnant again. She already had a son who was four years old named Bobby. Bobby’s father, Bob Lund was a second generation born Norwegian born to Pearl and John Lund who lived in Jasper Minnesota. The young couple lived in an apartment in Minneapolis and had a very turbulent marriage. Many times my brother was left unattended by his unemployed father while our mother was at work. She would come home to find him in his crib and his feces smeared on the wall. She had finally had enough and called her parents asking them to come get my brother so she could move out, file for divorce and get settled in a new place. Our grandfather, Bob O’Brien came to the house to get my brother only to be met by Bob Lund, who claimed he was frightened for his life. As the story goes, he smashed our grandfather in the head with a hammer causing a concussion and claimed it was self-defense. No one ever said if Bob got in trouble with the law or not. Our grandparents had already moved one hundred miles north of Minneapolis to their cabin on Long Lake. They had built the cabin themselves when my mother and her brother and sister were young children. The family would make weekend trips up north from the city like so many others with cabins around the lake. They could  swim, water ski, fish, or just relax. Grandpa worked in a nearby town named Pierz, a mostly German and Polish population, selling farming equipment. It was the late 40’s when my brother, who was only two years old went to stay with our grandparents. He settled in quite quickly and soon had a wonderful bond with both Grandpa and Grandma who lavished him with attention that made him feel safe and loved.

     In the meantime Patricia, better known as Patty in the family and her younger sister June decided to pursue their desire to be performers. They played guitar and sang in supper clubs around the Minneapolis area. In doing so they made contacts with people in other acts, and learned of a traveling burlesque show. Eventually they were offered to join the act so the sisters decided to venture out into the world with the hopes of making big money and maybe even becoming famous.  Patty and June became one of the first underwater dancing acts which gained them some notoriety but their real thrill came when they were offered jobs in burlesques own strip tease shows. Patty and June worked together and although Patty was the headliner using the stage name Desire`, June was really the more beautiful of the two. Yes, your great grandmother was a stripper and I was able to find a few pictures of her after she passed away. When she got older she was most embarrassed by the fact she had worn pasties and did bumps and grinds on stage. She threw out her 8×10’s and gave her costumes away to a retired couple that were nothing more than next door neighbors. This didn’t sit well with me because as her daughter, I would have thought she would have given them to me. I was pretty bent out of shape for years, but after her death I came to realize that it was a profession she was no longer proud of and most likely didn’t want me to remember it either. At least there are a few pictures so there is some history left behind.

     When they hit Milwaukee, Wisconsin June met and fell in love with a bartender named Pete Karegeannes, a first generation American born Greek. They fell so head over heels in love that Aunt June dropped out of the act to marry Pete. Patty continued on and made quite a name for herself as Desirè. She continued traveling, and eventually hooked up with a saxophonist named Bill Widecomb. Bill played in a band that traveled with the Tommy Dorsey band. She really experienced life and once was booked along side Lucille Ball before Lucille was ever famous. She was making good money, sending some to her folks, but she never came to get her son. In the meantime my brother had a stable life. He had grandparents who adored him. He lived in a cabin on a lake where Grandpa would take him fishing and teach him how to swing a baseball bat. Although they expected his mother to come and take him back one day, two years had passed and by age four they had grown attached to each other. Patty was always good about sending him birthday and Christmas presents and calling to check up on him and talk to him on the phone, but while each year passed, the peace and tranquility of living in the country had become a stabilizing factor in his life. He was happy and well loved by our grandparents.

In the spring of 1951 Patty and Bob Lund saw each other again in Minneapolis and there was talk of reconciling but it didn’t happen. Later Patty discovered she was pregnant again and I was the outcome of that short lived reconciliation…..supposedly. I really still don’t know to this day who my father was and if she did she took it to the grave with her. Worried that her folks would be angry to find out that she was pregnant again when she hadn’t even kept her son, she turned to my Aunt June and Uncle Pete who had since married and had been unsuccessful in their attempts to have a child of their own. After several long discussions they agreed to keep her baby, adopt it and raise it as their own. It must have been a relief to Patty not to have to fess up to her folks. The fact that she was pregnant was kept a secret and as the due date loomed closer Patty drove to Milwaukee and stayed with her sister until the birth. Aunt June had planned for me, buying baby outfits, a crib and getting all excited at the fact that she would soon be a parent. They had also agreed to pay all the doctor and hospital bills. So it was on a snowy winter’s night with Harry S. Truman as president and a week before Christmas, just after midnight when I entered the world. December 18th, 1951.  Not much hair but blonde like my Aunt June, I came home to my new parents…..and my mother. She then stayed with them longer than she should have. My Uncle Pete told me that she didn’t like me at all and cursed at me for ruining her life. But then perhaps she felt remorse. Maybe she was thinking about the fact I had a brother and that we should be together, but something made her change her mind. I was never really given the exact reason. But the two sisters began having arguments over who would feed me, who was going to change me, which one would give me my bath or rock me to sleep. I, in turn from the stress most likely was full of colic–and cried all the time. It couldn’t possibly have been a contributing factor that they gave me scallions to teethe on or whiskey in my bottle to knock me out!! As the weeks went by, the fights got worse over whose child I was. It must have escalated pretty bad over the course of my first six months of life. Patty called her folks and sprung the news on them about whose baby this was. So my grandparents, Bob and Harriett O’Brien along with my brother took off and drove non stop 500 miles from central Minnesota to Wisconsin under the pretense of visiting and to see the baby.  My grandparents must have spoken to Patty alone (maybe even prior to coming) and told her that it would be best if both children were together.  Tragicly my Aunt June and Uncle Pete were not told of the plans and a “plot” so to speak was born to get my Aunt out of the house while my Uncle was at work and then my grandparents just loaded me in the car with the clothes on my back and took off. My Aunt June adored me (and I would be reminded of this many times in later years by my cousins which really became annoying to listen to) and I can only imagine the heartache she felt as “her” child had been taken away. My Uncle Pete was also devastated and enraged as he had paid all the hospital and doctor bills.  There was nothing she could do legally as no paperwork had been signed. What a horrible thing to do to someone! Especially your own sister and daughter! Uncle Pete told me that until the day she died, my Aunt June was never given a reason for my being taken away and that while raising their own three children she always set a place at the table for me. Uncle Pete who lives in Scottsdale Arizona has confirmed this story as of this year, 2005 while I write this. It is hard to fathom that no explanation was given. Was it really that way or was a reason given that was just plain unacceptable? I’ve been told that I screamed and cried the entire drive back to Long Lake. I also broke out in hives on my face and butt from stress. I have pictures of myself when I was just around a year old. I’m clenching my teeth and my hands are clasped over my ears at some noise I’d heard. I still hate loud noises to this day. At any rate the drama in my life started in the womb.

I had a hard time the first few years of my life. Oh, I was well taken care of. Well fed, had new clothes and was happy and loved. I quickly won the heart of my Grandpa over and as far back as I can stretch my memory I was his “pet”. But those first few years I had clung to him heavily and when-ever he was out of my site I would completely lose it. I actually recall crying so hard for him when put to bed one night that while leaning too far over my crib I fell over-board landing on my head; flashes of white light radiating out from every pore of my skull. I don’t remember anything more about the fall, or even if I was taken to a doctor.  The closest doctor and hospital was 15 miles away so you didn’t get to a doctor too often in those days unless it was a real emergency. I guess my cracked skull wasn’t a matter of urgency! Grandpa quit his job in Pierz at the farming equipment company and went back to work in Minneapolis in order to make enough money to feed his second family. He stayed there all week coming home on Friday nights. At such a young age it seemed an eternity to me. With the bond I had established with him I would wail and claw at the door every Sunday night as he left until he finally had to start leaving after I’d been put to bed. I only remember that I never wanted him out of my sight. Looking back I see it was a terrible feeling of abandonment that I would carry with me all of my life. When I was about four years old I asked my grandparents if I could call them Mommy and Daddy. Although we had phone calls from Patty while she was on the road, and she would come to Long Lake to visit every couple of years or longer, my brother and I had roots in this house. I wanted a Mom and Dad and since I had been with them since I was 6 months old I felt like they were my Mom and Dad. My friends had a Mom and Dad. My cousins Kathi and Mike had a Mom and Dad. My Aunt June and Uncle Pete went on to have three children of their own; Elaine, Peter Jr. and Steven. So everyone I knew had a Mom and Dad but my brother and I. Bob Lund certainly was never in the picture. I suppose my asking stirred some serious discussion at night while we were asleep. I think they brought it up to Patty on her next phone call. She talked to my brother and me and asked if we wanted to come live with her or if we want to stay living there. By this time she has quit “showbiz” and was living with a boyfriend in Miami Beach. We both wanted to stay. And so, we were legally adopted and began calling them Mom and Dad. I felt complete……………..almost. So from this point forward in my story, Mom and Dad were really Grandma and Grandpa.

Dad kept making that trek one hundred miles to the cities (Minneapolis) for work every week for years. When I got older I still missed him terribly all week long but stopped crying. Every Friday night around six p.m. would find me at the end of our long dirt driveway by the side of the country road. I stood  watching and waiting for his car to come up over the hill like a loyal pet. He would hit the top of the hill and see me waiting and flash his headlights off and on to let me know it was him. At the sight of those lights I would spring up into the air jumping and twirling in glee. After all, not only was my Daddy home but he always brought bags of food and presents. It was like Christmas every Friday night. Growing weary of the long commute and time away from his family, Dad took an offer for a job selling Fords for a friend who owned a dealership in the town of Little Falls. Being only thirty five miles from home, he could commute to and from every day plus he got to drive a brand new car every year as a demo. He made great money and was able to provide well for all of us. We never went without or lacked for anything. By living on the lake and surrounded by a rural farming community we were often the envy of the kids on the local farms. It came from the fact that our food and clothes were store bought verses families of ten, twelve or more children each wearing hand me downs and food from their gardens and slaughter. The funny thing was that Bobby and I were just as envious of them. We often hung around our friends homes right around lunch or supper time hoping to be invited to that delicious home cooked meal. We often traded our lunches at school with other kids and both sides seemed to think they got the better end of the deal!

My childhood was the kind that books were made of. The kind of stories that you never hear anymore. The all American kind of close family. We sat down to dinner together every night. We said prayers before all meals and while being tucked in to bed. My Mom never learned to drive and hadn’t worked since moving from Minneapolis to Long Lake so Dad was the family chauffeur as well. Mom’s last job was as a waitress in a Chinese restaurant in Minneapolis before either Bobby or I were born.  Mom and Dad’s son Dan lived in in a suburb of Minneapolis called Coon Rapids with my Aunt Mary, my cousin Michael who was two years younger than Bobby and his sister Kathie who was almost two years younger than me. They would come up north to spend a week-end once in a while and Uncle Dan, an avid big game and duck hunter would bring his hunting dogs and train them in the lake in our front yard. We didn’t venture too often to their home as we liked to stay in our own. That’s how much we loved it and each other.

We always spent holidays together. Dad would bring Mom home a beautiful bouquet of roses on Valentines Day and we would give them extra cards from the box we filled out for school mates. We had overflowing Easter baskets full of multi colored jelly beans, chocolate eggs and bunnies, yellow baby chick marshmallows and new clothes, hats and gloves for church service to celebrate Jesus being risen from the dead . We celebrated with corn beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day as the O’Brien family. Even though Bobby’s and my family name would have been Lund, a Lutheran Norwegian family, we were raised Irish Catholic. Sparklers and fire crackers were a big show for us on the 4th of July as Dad would BBQ. My brother and I had wonderful Thanksgivings with a huge turkey, homemade dressing and watermelon pickles that Mom had canned herself. All the rest of the trimmings and pumpkin and mince meat pies were made with love from Mom’s hands. The Macy parade on TV would be the big family treat, followed by football which my brother watched with Dad. Many years we would wake up to our first snow fall just in time for Thanksgiving. But our Christmas’s are what stand out most in my memory. It was the same tradition year after year and it was fabulous. My Dad and I would drive the quarter of a mile up the same hill I use to wait for him to come home over, to Krafe’s country store to pick out our tree. We went when Santa was there so I could sit on his lap and give him my list of what I wanted and when done he would Ho, Ho, Ho, and hand me a candy cane and a popcorn ball wrapped in red or green shiny saran wrap from a bag on the floor at his side. Then Dad and I would walk over to the old fashioned meat counter where just below the glass panes sat big silver pails full of Christmas candy. Chocolate covered peanuts, hard candy ribbons, chocolate covered cherries and chocolate covered sea foam. We would return home and put on Nat King Cole, Perry Como, or the Mormon Tabernacle and sing Christmas carols as we decorated the tree. Oh how I loved the lights and the bubble bulbs! Our cards were taped with love along the eave of mother’s piano and she would play Silent Night and Joy to the World as we continued singing. There was a lot of love in our house. Finally at the end of the day, just before bed, the cookies and milk were set out for Santa. It was so hard to sleep for the excitement of listening for the sleigh and reindeer, but time got the best of us as we sleepily drifted off for the night with the only sound being the heat coming from the registers in the house.

Our legs raced  to the living room in the morning. Eyes wide with glee, we would look at all the presents stretched out from under the tree. There at the front  were presents lined up from Santa just waiting for us. Dolls and a buggy, bikes and sleds, an erector set, a train set, lots of things from our list telling us that Santa knew we had been good. The stockings we hung the night before were filled with small toys and candy. After we opened our gifts, we ate breakfast and Bobby and I would go outside to play in the snow with our new toys. Often it was snowing heavily and the eaves of the house and the trees were full of icicles. We had a blast sliding down the hill in the front of the house ending up on the frozen shore of the lake. We built snow forts, had snowball fights, played Duck-Duck, Goose-Goose and laid down swishing our arms and legs back and forth to make snow angels. We’d take the snow shovels and clear a big area on the frozen lake in front of the house and lace up our ice skates and play tag. Later exhausted, and numb with cold and hungry we would head for the house and the smell of turkey that filled the air. Mom would make us sandwiches with milk and then Bobby and I would play some new game or color in our big coloring books of the Lone Ranger or Wagon Train and some doll ones for me. Every year Dad would use his car to pull his ice house out on to the lake and my brother and I would take turns spending time in it with him fishing for Great Northerns, Walleyes and Croppies. Come New Years, sick of turkey, we’d have a delicious baked ham and all the trimmings and watch the small black and white TV as we waited for the ball to drop in New Yorks Times Square. Dad would allow us a small glass of Manechevitz wine to toast at midnight and then we’d fall in bed happy, full and exhausted. Although we had fun in the winter, there were many brutal storms as well. Some where the snow drifts were so deep we had to pay local farmers to use their snow plows to clear our road to the highway.  I wore a ski mask many times because with the wind chill the temperature would easily be forty or sixty below zero. Without the mask a face would be frost bit in a very short time. When it was too cold to play outside I could be found kneeling on the couch in front of the living room window watching the beavers going to their nests on the lake. Or I would look for rabbits bouncing through the yard. Mom would take an aluminum pie pan and put a chunk of suet in it and nail it to the back porch railing so the chickadees and other winter birds would have something to eat  to help keep them warm. When not watching the world go by I played with my doll house and my Barbie and Ken dolls.

Eventually spring made it’s entrance and our hearts would fill with joy at the sight of snow melting and watching bits of grass begin to sprout. I would once spend time on the shore of the lake watching the ice get thinner, knowing it was  too dangerous to try to walk on. The real sign that spring was here were when the robins started showing up and finding grass and twigs to build their nests to prepare for their young. I was always happy too because I knew it wouldn’t be long before school was out and summer would begin. I can still see Mom out in the yard planting a garden. She dug up the dirt in a good size section of the yard and planted rows of tomatoes, beans, carrots, peas, lettuce and even some corn. As the dirt turned over, I would gather the worms to use for fishing later on. There were wild gooseberries, raspberries, and small strawberries that we would pick and put in an empty coffee can to bring home for Mom to make jam out of. We helped her harvest the vegetables when the time came. Mom would then stew the tomatoes and cook all the other vegetables and can them for use in the winter. I really loved summer. We had a small boat with a motor and a fishing dock where I learned at a young age how to bait a worm and cast a rod. I even cleaned my own fish. Swimming on hot summer days was a favorite of mine but there were many times when the breeze would gather momentum and the skies grew dark. We would listen to the static on the radio for tornado warnings so we’d be prepared if one was heading our way. Several times we would open the trap door and climb the wooden ladder down to the cold basement with the cement walls until we knew it was safe. I would run to the couch and open the drapes that faced the lake to watch for whirlpools lifting the water into the air and lightning. When the crackling thunder shook the house I would run petrified to my Mom and Dad who would hold me and make me feel safe. After the storm passed I’d return to the window and look at the rainbows that arched over the far side of the lake.  And the day would return to its hot humid self.  

I can still visualize the old Maytag wringer washing machine in the kitchen. Being naturally curious, I once stuck my hand in and watched it roll my arm up to my elbow before I screamed for Mom to help me. There were several clothes lines in the back yard that were tied from one oak tree to another. I would walk along side Mom, too short to reach  handing her the clothes pins. During the day, I’d catch bull and grass frogs and gently study them by watching their throats pump in and out before setting them free. Dusk was and still is my favorite time of day. I loved to watch and listen as the world slowed down and when nature could be heard. When the sun painted beautiful colors on a canvas horizon that made me feel as though I could reach out and touch it. When the deepest red sun filled my soul with so much passion, I thought I would explode. When thousands of crickets began their symphony and the bullfrogs croaked as backup.  I loved being outside at night as a child, catching lightning bugs in a jar and watching them illuminate for a while before setting them free. But my most favorite thing of all was listening to the loons on the lake flapping their wings in the water at dark as their calls haunted and pierced the otherwise silent night. One might think that I was a lonely child but I was very much in tune with mother earth and it’s creatures and that’s where my heart was.

 Then there were the summer vacations. What an exciting time that was! I was about 8 years old when we started traveling. We used a tent the first couple of years and then Dad bought a small Jayco pop-out trailer that slept four. Every summer we would leave home for two weeks and head out west. Dad preferred the rugged west and we saw and did amazing things. Our first stop would be overlooking the Bad Lands of South Dakota, a mini Grand Canyon of sorts but it always bored me as the area was desolate and without greenery I was use to at home. From there we moved on to the Black Hills which was always our first night of camping. We visited Mount Rushmore, went horse back riding, drove to a state park where the deer and the buffalo roamed, literally, visited old ghost towns and western museums. We would wander the old western towns of Deadwood City and Keystone looking in gift shops and historical buildings. The next night would find us in Devils Tower Wyoming where we sat around a rangers campfire at night while he told the Indian myth of the bear who chased two Indian children to to the top of the tower and tried to claw his way up and that’s why the tower had vertical lines around it. Mom, Bobby and I snorted as we tried to stifle our laughter when as always, Dad’s attempt to BBQ steaks went up in flames and landed us a charcoal dinner! The more he’d rant and rave, the more we would pretend to wander the campsite looking around so we could let out our laughter much the same way one would quietly expell gas. My brother and I would search for decent logs and twigs to build our own campfire and happily we roasted marshmellows which took the place of a partially burned dinner. Staying in Wyoming we would camp at Jackson Hole Lake at the base of the Grand Teton mountains which to this day is still one of my favorite places. We would camp there for a couple of days so we could travel on to visit Yellowstone National Park where bears roamed the highway stopping traffic looking to be fed. Although the signs warned against feeding them, Dad cracked his window and gave one or two a bite just so he could take a picture. We also visited Old Faithful and all of the other hot mineral spring gysers that like clockwork would take turns spewing hot water that smelled like rotten eggs as high as 30 feet in the air.  From there we would pull up our camp site and head north into Montana and roam the ground where Custer’s battle, the biggest slaughter in history between the red and white man took place with the white man defeated enormously. I might mention here too that Ma was always for the native American Indians, no matter what tribe. She always said she wanted to be buried wrapped in a blanket above ground just as they were. So while Dad would choose cowboy souvineers at gift shops, Ma would always find something native American for her keepsake. Personally, I was scared to death of Indians at a young age and can still remember Dad having me stand next to a Chief in Keystone South Dakota to have my picture taken. One look and you can see the terror on my face as I stood frozen in fear that at any moment I would be scalped, but hey!  I was only 8 or 9 years old and all I ever knew about Indians was what I saw on TV! We continued on heading south, camping in the Great Rockies of Colorado, over to Salt Lake City, Utah and then headed south to the beautiful red rocks and canyon formations that make up Bryce and Zion National Park. I stared in awe at the beauty that lie before me. It was so different then the gentle rolling hills and flatlands of Minnesota. This was like another planet to my young eyes but one that I thoroughly enjoyed. We would head east to the Grand Canyon where once again nature’s beauty made my eyes open wide. Although they had donkey back pack rides down steep narrow trails, I think my Dad was the only one who would have been game to do such a thing. The trails had no protection to keep one from falling off the side of a cliff to certain death. The trails were only big enough for the pack mules to walk single file with no room to even turn around. I don’t think so, thank you very much!! So we camped and since it really was a desert floor the nights were pretty chilly as we bundled in warm clothes and jackets until about ten the next morning. Heading home, we drove through New Mexico and stopped to gaze at adobe huts built right into the sides of mountains with what appeared as no way to get to them. Nearby was a site seeing tour to the bottom of Carlsbad Caverns where it was very cold but the colors and formations were incredible, unique and amazing to look at, with some eerily illuminating colors.

Every year we would travel for two weeks in the summer, often re-visiting places we really loved and many times detouring to see new things in out of the way places. We even made it to the California coast a few times where by the early nineteen-sixties, our mother Patty was living. She was re-married to Buzzy Bailey who was a regional manager for southern California Safeway stores and together they bought some duplexes as real estate investments in Inglewood. Patty also began working for the Inglewood post office so her life was good and we had great visits. There was no pressure of who was who and who belonged where. Bobby and I had long had grandma and grandpa as our Mom and Dad and although we cared about Patty, we called her by her name. We would stay at a motel with a pool nearby which was a real treat for us lake babies and go to the wharf in Redondo Beach and play in the ocean. We also took in Marineland which no longer exists but it was a scaled down San Diego Sea World back then. But it was always good to head back home. While Bobby would sleep curled up in the back seat, my bed would be made from two sleeping bags rolled up, one on either side of the hump in the middle of the floor of the back seat. While we slept like the children we were Ma and Dad would drive late into the night until we got back to Long Lake. And every year I felt the same. I would be woken up late where the only lights available were the headlights shining on the front steps of our house. June bugs were soon traveling in the lights path near the door. I would look at the grass that seemed as though it had grown two feet and hear the sound of millions of crickets playing late in the night welcoming us home. Happily, yet dreary eyed I would go in the house and crawl into my familiar bed and sleep soundly until morning.

Autumn was my favorite season. I would rake piles of leaves just so I could walk away and take a flying leap into them and cover myself until no one could see me. I loved watching the colors change on the trees, the beautiful peaceful colors of fall. Orange, red, gold and brown, mixed in with some last man-standing greens of summer. I loved putting storm windows and doors over the screens and wrapping the bottom of the house with black tarp paper to prepare to keep some of the cold out that was right around the corner at winter. I’d sit on the dock on the water and watch several hundred yards away as beavers would drag branches of trees off the shore and swim in the water building their nest for the winter. I’d listen to the crows cawing in the trees preparing for the cold weather ahead. Their call also served as a notice for me that summer had ended and school would start again. Soon the branches were bare, the green grass had turned brown and the air had the smell of fire as people burned the piles of leaves they had raked.

Now that I am older, I look at old photos of my youth with such fondness that my heart feels like it’s bursting with love. My childhood was the happiest days of my life. Our family was very traditional. My Mom stayed at home, while Dad went to work. We played in the yard, swam in the lake, rode bikes on country roads, many of them dirt, and hung out with kids on neighboring farms. Everything my brother and I had, had been store bought. We had new clothes, new shoes, lunch buckets with handles, new toys, and store bought bread. We always had our snack of a peanut butter and jelly or a lunch meat sandwich and a glass of milk at the kitchen table and then off we’d run to play some more. I think my brother would agree with me that although Ma was an awesome cook there was really some good home cookin’ across the street at our friends on the farm. They had home-made bread, and milk fresh from the cow. No matter what they offered (and they always offered) their food had the best dang taste. Looking back now I don’t know how they could have given food to us as most of the farms had large families, anywhere from ten to eighteen kids. I am sure they were envious of my brother and I having everything new and the best of everything, but my brother and I were also envious of them. They had lots of brothers and sisters to play with; they had kick butt food, and a lot more acres of land because of the farm and tons of animals. My brother and I were never allowed to have a pet. I know Ma and Dad had a black lab named Duchess when they first moved into the cabin and still had her when my brother came to live with them. But one of the neighboring farmers shot and killed her claiming she’d been stealing their chickens and Dad never got over it. So no pets for us….well eventually I did get a black lab mix I named Butch. But until then we would just go to the neighbors who had plenty of cows, chickens, cats and dogs and sometimes a pig or two. At night Ma would put things out for the wild critters and often we would turn on the outside light to catch a raccoon eating her snack. Occasionally there would be a few deer roaming near the house and once when we pulled open the kitchen drapes there was a bob cat sitting on the outside sill! Even though we were inside I was scared to death. To me it may as well have been a tiger! Although bears roamed the woods, they usually stayed deep in them but every once in a while we would hear of a bear sighting further around the lake from where our house was. Mom also put food out for the birds, seed in the summer and a chunk of suet for the chickadees in the winter. There were June bugs that would hit the screen door if we turned on the light and if walking in the yard after dark we could hear bats occasionally swoop right over our heads. But it was a very peaceful life.

I played Barbie’s in my room or wandered around outside exploring the world. I think it’s safe to say that I was a tomboy when I was young. I had a red Annie Oakley cowgirl hat with a string that tied around my neck and a holster with two guns that I loved to play with. Between our dining room window and the small woods that separated us from the cabin “next door” was a big gray rock that slanted on an angle. One of most favorite memories was that big old rock and it is still there as of my visit home in 2006 even though it’s someone else’s home now. I would climb on it and fire at all the “Indians” or I would sit on it with a leg on either side and pretend it was my horse. Or I would often just sit on it and look out at the lake and watch nature in all of its splendor. My brother and I played together too although I may have been a pain to him since first of all I was a girl, secondly I was five years younger and lastly he wasn’t too happy with my arrival to begin with. He use to pinch me hard when he could just to be mean but then we’d turn around and make up and play together. My best recollections of us when we were still young was of he and I swimming together in a small blow up pool near the shore of our home before I was a good enough swimmer for the lake. And of  playing with soldiers carved out of wood in a man made sand pile at the base of two old oak trees, building snow forts and having snowball fights or in bad weather staying inside and playing Monopoly or Chinese checkers. It seemed we celebrated the good life every day. After all it was only 1957 and life was still really good. Ozzie and Harriett good. So my childhood rocked!  It was the best times of my life. A lot of love, no stress, well fed, dressed and cared for. Most of all it was a simple time. When doors were never locked, where neighbors always welcomed and helped each other never expecting anything in return but a handshake or a hug.

I remember that daydreamed a lot as a child. I stared at leaves up close, and caught frogs and studied their features before setting them free. I spent time laying in the grass searching for four leaf clovers and finding shapes in the clouds formations. Dusk would always find me staring west towards sunsets rich in orange and red as I wondered what was “over” there. I wanted to keep chipmunks for pets, and watched beavers build their nests in the lake readying themselves for winters, looked in awe at the beauty of the many colors of autumn; my favorite season to this day although I really miss it in Los Angeles. I took paths in the woods for miles or made my own, worrying my mother for fear of bears and bob cats. One day I traveled to the far end of our lake where there were no cabins, just thickets and marshes and took a step and started sinking quickly. I had heard my Mom talk about quicksand and I was afraid that I had just found some. I must have been around nine or ten years old but I kept my cool even though my body was slowly disappearing getting close to my knees. I had sense enough to grab hold of a thick branch on a tree and pull myself up and gingerly set myself back down to see if there was solid ground. Once free I ran home feeling absolutely petrified and got my butt chewed out by Ma. I felt a sense of satisfaction though that I had traveled near danger and won. That would be the start of a life long sub-conscious attraction to danger.

 



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