1932.  The Great Depression.  Daddy was out of work.  I was the oldest of four kids.  We moved from Pennsylvania to Connecticut because we heard there was work to be found in Bridgeport. For awhile we stayed with Grandma until we could find and afford a rent.  Looking back, I think Grandma and Grandpa must have been  remarkable people to welcome us all, especially since all the kids proceeded to get whooping cough.  It seemed reasonable to us to be banished to the back yard since we would whoop and whoop and whoop and then vomit.

In due time we moved to 507 Park Street, Bridgeport CT and I spent a couple of hours in the middle of last night revisiting that house online, thanks to Google Satellite and Google Earth. There was, and still is, an empty lot next door. Williams Street, where Grandma lived, is a few blocks away.   In 1932 there were two mulberry trees in the yard, but I can’t tell if they are still there now on Google.  The cross street is Putnam and our school, Beardsley School, is seven long blocks away.   I was  responsible for getting Bobby, 7, and Annette, 5, to school each day.   We walked, of course.   Our family had not had a car since we left Detroit, Michigan about 1930.

Apparently we only spent one year in the house on Park Street since I was in Beardsley school for fifth grade and in Summerfield School for the sixth.  I loved my fifth grade teacher, Josephine Kane.  How well I remember my fifth grade debut on an arithmetic test — I turned in a very neat paper with all the problems done, and it came back to me with a very neat zero at the top.  Apparently there was something I hadn’t yet learned in my previous school.   Somehow I lived through it and did OK for the rest of the year.

It was during my ninth year that I met my cousins, Richie and Johnny.  We would climb trees and billboards, and build huts in the fields.  I operated on my doll in order to turn her cry-box around.  It did not seem right to me that a the doll cried when picked up.  I fixed her so she would cry when laid down – that had been my experience with real babies.

I’m sure we had bedrooms in that Park Street house but I have no recollection of them.  I do, however, remember the dining room.  I often had to clear the table and do the dishes and I recall going out to play after a meal and looking in through the window to see if the table had been cleared yet.   My plan was not to come back into the house until after the dishes had been done.   Also memorable was the time, at about my tenth birthday, when Mom and I sat at the dining  room table and she told me about menstruation.   I was flabbergasted!   Mom asked me if I had  noted the pads in her dresser drawer.  I hadn’t.  I couldn’t believe that I had lived this long and women all around me – my mother, my teacher, all of them – had been doing this every month without my knowledge.

What else do I remember about my ninth year?  Aunt Sue showed me how to push my cuticles back so the half-moon would show.  The hot water heater in the corner of the kitchen started jumping up and down and we very quickly turned on all the hot water faucets.   I found out I was  terribly sensitive to poison ivy and I was painted with purple potassium permanganate which turned me brown.  We played and skated in the street.  I had a friend named Elsie Kronus.  I could not find her with my computer but she would probably have a married name if she hasn’t died by now.  Many of my friends aren’t around anymore.  That’s life.

Conclusion:  Nine-year-olds  are real people and the things they learn at nine echo down through the years.  Places remain but people disappear.  Be nice to them while they’re here.


And the King will answer them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to the least of these, my brethren, you did it to me.”  – Matthew 25:40