Creative Brooding

Welcome to my blog. My name is Pat O'Connor and I wanted to create one little spot where I could share feelings, thoughts, even ramble if I want to. Perhaps too, reveal a side of me very few know about. If there are two words I would use to describe myself, those two would be iconoclastic and eclectic.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Home for a Little Boy

A Home for a Little Boy - Originally written and posted elsewhere January 2007 - transferred here Jan 15, 2013

"Finding our way back to Florida"

So our time in Yoncalla was drawing to a close.  In planning to take the O’Connor children to Florida, there was this small problem of what to do with a couple little girls of 4 ½ years and  2 ½ years.  However, if you are my mother, the solution is actually quite simple.
You put them into a tiny little white clapboard house and put the fear of Satan in them if they open the shades, answer the phone, answer the door or go outside. Looking back, it truly is a miracle that nothing happened to Susan and Diana while mother was away.

With that little problem resolved, we packed the ole wagon,  hopped in and were cruising the highwaysagain.
Since Aunt Paula was with us, mother had to be at her best behavior so the trip was actually fun and I remember having a good time.  There were four things in particular that really stuck with me though.

Since it was still Winter, the snow wa still thick and covered the land, trees and roads going through the Dunsmuir pass in the Mt. Stasta, Calfornia area.

Mt. Shasta was spectacular and majestic against a deep blue sky.  When the wind whipped around the mountain, it would scoop up the powder snows and the mountain was surrounded by shimmering halo.        

 When we went through the Southwest, you had to keep a sharp eye out for those gila monsters.  We were told they would sneak into your hotel room at night, and gobble you up while you slept.   Now that made for sweet dreams.                            
 Then of course going through Arizona and New Mexico we kept a keen look out too for the giant jackalopes.  These huge critters were a cross breed between a jack rabbit and an antelope.  Some were so huge, we were told, they could actually kick over a building.  We sure didn’t want them jumping onto the highway and kicking us off the road.  

I was also fascinated by the seemingly mile after mile of those oilrigs along the Texas and Louisiana coast.  They seemed to go on and on and sang in unison with their rhythmic ka-thunka, ka-thunka as they sucked the precious oil from mother earth.

The trip was a whirlwind event, and was over almost a quickly as it had begun.

After a few days of driving long hours, we arrived back in Florida.  Our first home there, was to be with Uncle Jake and Aunt Louise who owned a huge farm outside a sleepy little Southern town called Cottondale.  

The farm was beautiful with lush woodlands and deep green pastures set in gentle rolling hills.  There was also a small river that ran through the farm that we children loved.    One end was ideal for fishing and the opposite end was perfect for swimming.

It was also large enough so that Uncle Jake had a number of families that worked for him, with some actually living in houses on the property.  He raised corn, cotton, peanuts, hay and a sundry of other cash crops plus hundreds of beautiful prize Black Angus cattle.       

We settled in quickly and  were promptly enrolled at the local elementary school.  It was a quaint and typical ancient country school. It was two story, made of red brick darkened by enduring sixty years of changing weather and the school yard was filled with giant live oak trees with enormous boughs of swaying Spanish moss.

I made news friends easily and it wasn't long before I had a best buddy, Cliff, to hang with. Our special treat each day was either a real orange juice popsicle, one of those real lime juice ones or the all time favorites, a fudgesicle. They were a mouthful of delight for only one nickel.
But as the old cliche says, "all good things must come to an end."  Mother had always had this problem with Aunt Louise. What it was all about I never knew, not even to this day.  Apparently, she got in an argument one day with Aunt Louise and without prior announcement showed up at their house to yank us out of there.
We were taken to relatives in central Florida.  We were very upset and saddened, but nevertheless were all crammed back into the car and were on the road again, and again.  

A Home for a Little Boy - Originally written and posted elsewhere January 2007 - transferred here Jan 15, 2013

At least this time that we were on the road again, it was a much shorter trip.

Steve and Marion were Steve and Marion were taken to Aunt Vivian (mother's sister) and Uncle Kenney's home in Rockledge, Florida.

Uncle Kenny worked at Cape Canaveral and aunt Vivian was a homemaker.  They had three children.  The oldest we called Little Paula as she was named after aunt Paula.  Kenny Jr. was the middle child and then there was Terry, son number two and was aproximately my age.

I was to stay with Aunt Gladys (mom's sister), Uncle Austin and thier family.  They lived outside a small town called Auburndale. This quaint little town was in the very heart of citrus country. Orange, grapefruit and tangerine groves were everywhere. 

They had three children of their own.  The oldest Gerald was living in Alabama and was soon to be married.  Tom, the second oldest, who  was named after his dad was in the navy.  The youngest was Rod who was about four years older then I was.

Uncle Austin owned his own leather goods business in a neighboring city called Winter Haven.  Aunt Gladys was a histology technician at the Winter Haven hospital.

That first year was difficult for me and I am quite sure for them as well.  I had a number of emotional issuesdue to the abuse from my mother and stepfather.  One time I woke everyone in the house up because I had turned on all the lights...ever fearful of the darkness.

There were medical problems as well.  I continued to have stomach trouble and according to the doctors was in an emerging ucler stage.  So, I was put on a bland (yuk) diet for several months.

Also, we needed to find an answer a to the question of why my legs swelled like they did.

Aunt Gladys had taken me to their family doctor to get his opinion.  After a thorough examination and a family history, Dr. Smythe announced I had a condition called Milroy's Disease.  This was the old name applied to almost all cases of lymphedema.

My aunt and uncle's home quickly became "my" home as I was welcomed and settled in.  I was enrolled in school at the Central Elementary School in Auburndale.  This was the third school I attended  in my first grade.

The year 1959 was one of massive change for me and it ended on a good note.

At Christmas, I had decided I was going to rearrange a decoration at the top of the Christmas tree, and boy did I ever rearrange it.  I knocked the whole tree over.  Of course, I did what any little kid would do, I started crying.      

After some hugs of comfort from Aunt Gladys, both the tree and I were tidied up.  How totally strange it was for me not to be beaten with a leather belt for something I had done.   I honestly didn't know what to do since normally I would have been beat unmercifully....maybe there really is a Santa Claus    


Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home