Last week I spent some time with a group from high school. Some of them had known each other since grade school, I had only spent my last two years there, and I was asked more than once “Where did you grow up?”. The answer that came to mind first was “Who said I grew up?” but the one I vocalized was “America”.
I was born in a hospital in Corsicana TX, my parents lived in Trinidad (1), in a company community serving the power station of Texas Power and Light, for whom my father was a chemist. I have several distinct memories of these years. My parents other son was born while we lived there, on reflection I realize that I could tell the that he wasn’t of this world. Many years later he told me the community no longer existed and had been flooded. A check of Google satellite shows that the homes are gone but the island is still there.
In another year we moved to Dallas TX, my father taking a job with Beckman Instruments. At first we lived in an apartment(2), where I managed to experience all the childhood diseases, among my memories are house calls by the doctor for my chicken pox. Then we moved to a house on Flaxley Dr.(3) not far from my maternal grandparents. Loads of memories from there, Kindergarten, first grade, half of second. Getting in trouble doing kid stuff, family, friends and church. Oddly, when you click on that link, it brings you to the exact house. one of those trees I had planted as a pecan from my paternal grandparents farm.
Christmas of 1966 we moved to Walnut Creek, CA,(4) the first of many moves caused by my father’s rise through his company. We lived in the shadow of Mt. Diablo, in an odd little community of British ex pats. Some of my friends parents still observed afternoon tea. We lived there for eight months. The most interesting eight months possible, including the “Summer of Love“, visiting relatives first tourist stop was the Haight.
In August we moved to what is now Tustin CA,(5) but was actually an unincorporated area at the time. Because of that, I ended up going to two different elementary schools, neither of which still exist. In fact, looking at Google Earth, the house I lived in has changed so much it may have been demolished and rebuilt. My parents divorced while we lived there, I had my first kiss, took piano lessons, leared saxophone and started on drums. After the divorce my mother and I, along with the alien, moved to an apartment(6) and I started junior high, then Mom got married and we moved to Ventura CA on Halloween. At first we lived in an apartment(7) just two blocks from the beach. I attended the same junior high as Kevin Costner. Mom and her new husband bought a house in Saticoy the summer before ninth grade, and for a few months we lived in a different apartment(8) in the keys, but Saticoy(9) was still in an area where I was bussed to the same junior high. I ended up at a different high school than my beach friends, oddly so had Kevin Costner. When I look at the google satellite of Saticoy it’s kind of sad, most of those neighborhoods were orange groves when I lived there, they were a great place to party.
My sister was born while I lived there, but my step father was getting to be more than I could handle, so I moved in with my father in Murray Hill, NJ.(10) I liked the east coast accent on girls, so even though I had a driver’s license in California but was too young in New Jersey, I’d get to drinking age first in New Jersey. This is the way a kid’s mind works, measuring benefits that never occur to their parents. I experienced all the “first” that young people experience during those years. I formed friendships that have lasted through now. After graduation, my father moved to Perth Amboy(11). I pretty much stayed in the house in Murray Hill, which hadn’t yet sold, and then one snowy morning decided to move back to California. I left the next day.
When I arrived in Ventura, where my mother had moved to a condominium, I lived with her(12) for a few months before getting an apartment(13) on “The Avenue”. This was far from the nicest section of town, a welfare housing project was across the street, but we had wonderful old hippie neighbors on our side of the street. After I was assaulted we decided to move anyway, this time to El Rio,(14) for an exceptionally earthy experience. We had a cute little house on a deep property with two other houses. I drove a converted mail truck, friends from New Jersey could visit safely.
Me and my van in El Rio
My mom had moved to Las Vegas with her husband and my sister, things weren’t working out for them so Cindy and I found a larger place(15), just a few houses down from where I had first lived in the keys. It was nice being so close to the beach again, I finally decided to start college, and things looked stable for a few minutes. Then one day Cindy called me and said “I’m pregnant, I’m going home (Pennsylvania). My aunt has already arranged airline tickets, I’m leaving day after tomorrow”. I’m an old fashioned kind of guy, the idea of my child being born and living three thousand miles away was not an option, so I hooked up with a friend who was also moving East and we dragged our stuff across the country.
When I first arrived we lived with Cindy’s mother(16) until we could afford a little place(17) in Bloomsburg. College wasn’t going to happen, I found a decent job for the area and we saved enough to buy a little house overlooking the river(18). Bloomsburg is rural enough that there are no street views available on Google satellite. After a couple of years Cindy was pregnant again, and as nice as my job was, there was no way to support a family of four with a new house on it. The best choice available was the military, so I enlisted in the Air Force.
Basic Training was in San Antomio TX(19), and Technical school was at Lowry AFB(20) in CO. Cindy decided to rent out the house and join me in Colorado, so we rented a place in Aurora(21) while I finished school. We received our orders, and a couple of us ended up stationed at Offutt AFB, SAC HQ. We arrived at Offutt in time for our second child to be born there, after we had moved out of temporary quarters(22) and into base housing(23).
My story takes a fork here, there is the official version and the classified version. You’ll be getting the official version, with a bit of the other to kick it off. I was approached with an opportunity that would involve a little travel and no uniforms. I would receive an honorable discharge but it would be recorded that I lost my security clearance.
Cindy and I moved off base(24) to a nice house in a neighborhood that was rebuilding. Then we moved to Dallas TX, living with my aunts (first one(25), then the other(26)) until we determined we would stay in the Dallas area after our third child was born. We moved into an apartment complex(27), where Cindy was able to take the position of manager after a few months, and we moved into the management apartment(28). There are few things worse than moving your entire household one hundred yards. I worked for the City of Dallas, and spent a lot of time away from home. Cindy got bored and decided to have an affair with one of the tenants, so I moved in with a coworker(29) (who happened to be female, but we had separate bedrooms) while Cindy and I figured out what we were going to do. It appeared it was going to take a while, so my coworker and I decided to rent a nicer condo(30).
I got another call from Cindy. She was taking the kids to live in Pennsylvania, her aunt had already purchased the airline tickets. Certain things never change, I helped pack everything and moved up to Pennsylvania with her. We lived with her mother at first(31), until we were able to find a place in town(32). At that point, she basically said “Thanks for the ride and all your money and credit, you can go now”. That was over twenty five years ago, I’ve gotten over it, but for some reason she’s still angry. I moved into a long term hotel (33), but there was nothing to work out, so I followed a coworker to Wildwood NJ where there were plentiful summer jobs. I took an apartment(34) and stayed the summer, then moved to Bryn Mawr PA with the woman who had been a coworker, became a girlfriend, and later became my wife. She was living in the dorms of Combs College of Music, and for a while I assumed a female persona so I could live there(35). After a few months I found an apartment(36) in Lansdowne PA, and I took a job at the SPCA and then the police department. After a few years Paula became pregnant, so we moved to another apartment in the building (37) (I hadn’t learned the lesson in Dallas, now I had a piano) and then about a year later we took an apartment(38) in Aldan. Paula wasn’t crazy about the neighbors, so we ended up moving again, this time to a house(39) in Prospect Park.
Paula and I were decreasingly happy with each other, so I moved to an apartment(40) in nearby Wilmington DE just off the shore of the Delaware river. I met a woman from Bensalem PA and rented an apartment(41) there. We eventually moved in together (42), and found yet another apartment (43) before we broke up. I shared an apartment in Warminster, PA (44) before moving in with an old friend in Lansdowne (45). When my friend realized that we were just friend and I was not going to marry her, I moved to South Philadelphia (46).
Shortly after that I met Emma. I moved to her apartment(47) in Crum Lynne, PA where we lived for a few years, until an unfortunate incident which caused us to move back to South Philly, first living with her brother (48) and then to an apartment on Tenth and Wolf(49).
That was supposed to be it, but Emma died. I had intended to finish my days in that apartment, but then I met Lieve, and moved to Princeton(50). A couple of things made us decide that we wanted to have a place we could call “ours”, with no ghosts of our pasts, so we currently live next door to the Governor(51). It’s a nice place, he doesn’t invite us to any parties, but we can sit in the yard and listen to the music. Eventually, we’ll move again, Belgium is certainly in our future, and as long as I can keep the number of my addresses lower than the number of my years. I’m comfortable.
Home is where you wear your hat.