I am from a 1950s stucco house on Citrus Street in southern California, two houses from Nicolas Junior High, where buzzers marked the passage of time.
I am from the bougainvillea that served as background for photographs, Daddy’s roses lining the driveway, and tomatoes growing behind the garage.
I am from Lloyd and Maxine, schoolteachers who knew their children were the brightest, sweetest kids on earth, but who loved other people’s children, too, and sent money to a Korean orphanage for years.
I am from a father who was named “All Around Boy” in high school and had a little cup to prove it, won a Distinguished Flying Cross but seldom talked about his war experiences, and left school administration to return to the challenges and joys of a classroom. I am from a father who loved good meals, funny stories, and planning trips.
I am from a mother who listened more than she talked, sang while doing housework, wrote wonderful letters, and talked like Donald Duck upon request. I am from a mother who grew up in the red dirt of Oklahoma during the depression and never forgot what it was like to be poor and hungry. I am from beans and cornbread and “The man down the road doesn’t have this much.”
I am from Alfords and Powers, Harrells and Bonds, all people who valued family. I am from Crazy Great Aunt Mattie, who let her dog eat off her plate, and from Uncle Ken, who died in World War II but whose name lives on through a nephew and great nephew.
I am from holidays and Sunday afternoons with Aunt Wanda, Uncle Cope, and the cousins. I am from traveling along Old Route 66 in a station wagon to visit the Oklahoma relatives. I am from watching the switch engine in the train yard with Uncle Harlan, drinking Dr. Pepper in Aunt Zella’s kitchen, the smell of Uncle Charlie’s cigar, and Aunt Nita’s obsession with cleanliness. I am from Aunt Chris’s dining room table, tours of Uncle Roy’s school buildings, and playing Cootie with my cousins.
I am from Friday night take-out spaghetti from Giovanni’s, eating huge bowls of ice cream with Daddy while Mom wasn’t looking, See’s Chocolates at Christmas, TV dinners when Mom and Dad went to Old Country Club suppers, and chocolate fudge cooling on a Fiesta ware platter.
I am from nursery rhymes, “I Wish That I Had Duck Feet,” “There Was An Old Woman,” and “Babes in the Woods.” I am from camping trips, watching Disneyland’s fireworks from our back porch, piano lessons, and a beautiful table Daddy brought back from India. I am from slumber parties in the backyard tent, swimming in the Pacific, and watching airplane landings at the local airport with Daddy so Mom could clean house without kids underfoot. I am from a black cocker spaniel named Queenie, a cat named Bering Strait, and an old gray Packard named Obeeta.
I am from generations of Disciples of Christ, dimes for the Sunday School offering plate, Bible verses, communion every Sunday, and Christian Youth Fellowship. I am from “Don’t eat that. It’s for the church potluck dinner.”
I am from “Have a happy day” as I left for school each day and “Don’t forget to say your prayers” when I went to bed. I am from high expectations, thank you notes, good money management, and The Golden Rule.
I am from a cedar chest full of family treasures representing both joys and heartaches. I am from albums of black and white photographs, letters, newspaper clippings, recipes, old diaries, and home movies, now housed in three states. I am from memories and a childhood
that enables me to meet the challenges and opportunities of life with strength and enthusiasm.
These are my parents shortly before they married. I love this picture. They look so happy.
I was born on their first anniversary, which means that instead of going out on their anniversary, they spent the next eighteen years having birthday parties for me instead. I was quite spoiled.
After five years of being an only child, Baby Sister was added to the family.
In 1955, my sister and I got a baby brother for Christmas.
The first nine years of my life were spent in Oklahoma. For the rest of my childhood, this stucco house in southern California was my home. It's a little tract home that holds lots of memories.
Here's the family in about 1964.
And here are my parents in their later years. Strangely, I took this photo shortly before they left our home after a visit in 1981. At the time I had no idea that it would be within the last five minutes I ever saw my dad alive. He died unexpectedly three months later. My mother died on the same date 23 years later.
That's where I'm from. Lucky, aren't I?