This week’s Sunday Stealing is called Personal History, an interesting topic.
1. What would you like people to know about your mother?
I was thinking about this a lot this week. My father was the more outgoing and visible member of the couple. But I doubt they would have been been able to pay the bills if it wasn’t for my mom.
She was a bookkeeper at McLean’s Department Store in Binghamton, NY, then worked at Columbia Gas, not even a block away. When she moved to Charlotte, NC, she was a teller at First Union Bank, which eventually was swallowed by Wells Fargo. I probably got my love of numbers from her. When I told her we were learning base 2, which we were told was the basis of computers, she was clearly excited.
2. What would you like people to know about your father?
I’ll be writing about him on August 10, the anniversary of his death. My eclectic taste in music started with him.
3. What was your childhood bedroom like?
HA! After my second sister was born, my father put up two walls in the dining room, built a wooden shelf into the two walls, then put a mattress on top of that. My storage was under the “bed,” though my books were around the corner on a bookcase. My dad painted the solar system on the ceiling.
4. What was your favorite activity as a child?
Alone: playing with my baseball cards. With others: playing softball/baseball/kickball. And singing.
5. What was high school like for you?
When we first got there, there was a certain hostility from some because my friends were identified as against the Vietnam war. But by the time I graduated, most of the school was against the war. I was on the stage crew and president of the Red Cross club. I was also president of the student government, which is how I sort of got to introduce Rod Serling.
6. Write about your cousins.
I have no first cousins. My parents were only children. Well, essentially. My mom had a younger sister who died as an infant. So my cousins were my mother’s cousin’s kids who lived in NYC and were a decade or more younger than I. Still, aside from my sisters and their daughters, they’re the closest relatives outside my nuclear household.
7. What was your favorite food as a child?
Spinach. Totally indoctrinated by Popeye.
8. What was your most memorable birthday?
My 16th was held at the American Civic Association, so it was a real party. Lois, who I’ve known since kindergarten, gave me Judy Collins’ album Who Knows Where The Time Goes. She was afraid it might be too country for me; it was not.
9. What world events were significant to you as a child?
The integration of the high school in Little Rock, AR. Sputnik. The Cuban Missile Crisis – I didn’t really understand it, but I grokked adults all being nervous. The assassinations of Medgar Evers and John F. Kennedy. The massive 1965 blackout was the only time I ever heard my father worry about a possible Soviet plot.
To Starr Avenue
10. What did a typical day look like as a child?
During the school year, walk to school about half a mile, usually trying to vary my route. At lunch, walk home to my grandma Williams’ house for lunch, watch JEOPARDY with her sister, my wonderful Aunt Deana, back to school, then walk home with, in geographic order, Bill, Lois, Karen, Carol, and Ray. I’d walk home.
11. Write about your grandparents.
Agatha Green (1902-1964) was my Sunday school teacher and taught me how to play canasta. She was the first person I knew well to die, and I was devastated. McKinley Green (1896? -1980) was a custodian at WNBF-TV-AM-FM and would bring home stuff the station no longer wanted, such s the soundtrack to The Night They Raided Minsky’s (1968).
12. Did you move as a child?
I moved from the second floor of 5 Gaines Street, Binghamton, NY, to the first floor when my mother was pregnant with her second child. Until college, that was it.
13. Who taught you to drive?
Several people tried, including the Okie, Uthaclena, my father, and a professional.
14. Which job has been your favorite?
FantaCo, the comic book store/mail order/publisher/convention, where I worked from May 1980 to November 1988.
15. What was the best part of your 30s?
Working at FantaCo, singing in the Trinity UMC choir