My childhood home was 19th century old,
bricks with ivy growing up the side and,
a wooden porch in the front. There
was a walk-in attic off my bedroom where
I played with my doll’s house and my Sparkle
Plenty and Shirley Temple dolls.
Gram sewed outfits for the dolls and I got
doll-house furniture like sofas, bags of flour,
and little beds with covers of embroidered flowers
on the pillow cases and spread. Of course, Sparkle
and Shirley were too big to live in the doll house, so
I had to have little painted people who would lie in bed
and stand in the kitchen.
I also had a Hedy Lamarr doll when I was a little older
and began to collect movie star autographs. I was
precocious and gave Hedy her period by painting
mercurochrome on gauze mimicking my mother’s
hygienics. I also began waiting for my own period
so I could achieve “grown-up status.” Some of
my friends were “grown-up” now and I envied them.
I always felt like the house was a breathing thing.
With the attic and dirt-floor basement it was different
than my friend’s houses and they would always want
to discover in my house. We also had an old barn
in the back yard that had tack for animals hanging
on hooks from the walls. The hay mow was on the
second floor and we were always warned against
the thin floor and falling through.
There was a Philips radio in the living room and we
would gather around it for Amos and Andy, and
Gram and I would listen to her soaps in the kitchen
while she cooked. I had a victrola and played my
childhood records of Rudolph, Spike Jones,
and Bing and Bob Crosby. My favorite was
Roy Rogers and the Sons of the Pioneers
singing Water, Cool, Clear, Water. We also
had a piano and our boarder played songs
and we sang with the tunes. I remember she
was playing when Daddy came come from
He’d been expected hours earlier
but they let me stay up and wait and the songs
made the time go by. Finally, he came in the
door and I was sent to see who it was! I shouted,
“Daddy, Daddy is here,” and everyone else
greeted him. Daddy was very tired and soon
went to bed, I later found out he was staggering
drunk and they rushed him upstairs before
he passed out.