This is week 5 of a 15 week project. The object is to write a story each week about a different period of time from our childhood. I am writing this for my children. The first week was about my birth. The next week was about Kindergarten and the birth of my brother Allan. Next I shared some random memories about First Grade. Last week was mostly about our adventurous move to California. I’ve talked to my Mom about that move and her version is a little different than mine, but I’ll save that story for another time. This week will be my memories from Third Grade.
Sometime before school started for third grade, we moved again. This time into a 4-plex right across the street from the school where I was going to attend 3rd grade. This school also had a children’s center (daycare) where Allan would be during the day while Gramma was at work. In our new apartment, we had FURNITURE!!! We had a couch, a chair and a TV in the living room.Allan and I had a set of bunk beds and a dresser in our room and we had a table with 4 chairs in the kitchen. I assume that Gramma also had a bed in her room, but I don’t have any specific memories of her room in that apartment, other than she had one. Our apartment was the last one, furthest from the street. In front of the apartment was a strip of dirt that was supposed to be a flowerbed and the blacktop parking lot.
That year was our first Christmas in California. We didn’t really know anybody and we weren’t on visiting terms with Aunt Beverly and Uncle Gordon, so we went to Donelly Park and had a picnic for Christmas. We had a tree in our apartment and we decorated it with beads and cut out paper ornaments. I got a bike for Christmas that year. I remember riding it at the school on the weekends when nobody was there. I also remember riding it down the sidewalk on West Main to go to a friend’s house. Allan had a red tricycle and the entire time he had it, the wheels squeaked whenever it moved. Gramma usually didn’t like things that squeaked, but she never oiled his tricycle because the noise made it easier for her to keep track of where he was. California was having a drought that year, so we didn’t get much rain and it stayed really warm, even for California winters. Then in February we suddenly got 2 inches of snow. Most of my classmates had NEVER seen snow. It was such a rare event that they let all the kids out onto the playground to play in it for the rest of the day. The next day there was still snow on the ground, so they canceled school. That was 1976 and I never saw that much snow again in a place that I lived in California.
Allan’s favorite thing to do in that apartment was lay under the kitchen table “working” on the legs with his plastic pliers. He didn’t talk very much and when he did, I was usually the only one who could understand him. Around the time he turned 3, I had a game that I thought was really fun to play with him. I would ask him “Are you a girl?” and he would say “NO” Then I would ask him “Are you a boy?” and he would say “NO” Then I would say “What are you?” and he would get really mad at me and scream “I an ALL-NONE” that was his way of saying Allan. I would laugh and he would just look at me in confusion. Sometimes I would lay under the table with Allan and watch him “work” on the table. His tools were flimsy plastic and didn’t seem to be doing anything when he poked at the under side of the table with them, but one day a leg fell off of the table.
I’m pretty sure I only went to that ONE school for the entire school year, it was the first time since I started school that we didn’t move around Valentines Day. I was in a combination 2nd/3rd classroom and we had 2 or 3 teachers and several aids. We moved around the 2 classrooms in groups and didn’t have our own desks. All our stuff was kept in cubbies. There were several different carpeted areas where we would sit on the floor for various different things. Looking back on it the set up seems chaotic, but I remember really enjoying it at the time.
When school got out, I went to a Salvation Army summer camp. It was a camp for underprivileged kids. We slept on cots in cabins and ate all our meals in a cafeteria. At night there was a campfire where we sang songs and played camp games. I think I was there for a week. I made a bunch of crafts and I think we went swimming. Gramma felt guilty about letting me go because when I got back from camp it was time for me to pack for a trip to New Jersey to see my Dad. I hadn’t seen him in over a year. I got to fly on an airplane all by myself from San Francisco to Philadelphia. It was a 5 hour flight. A stewardess escorted me into the plane and to my seat. She gave me a little bag that had a set of pin on plastic wings, some crayons and a mini coloring book. Every once in a while she would come by to ask me how I was doing. I couldn’t listen to the movie they played because I didn’t have any money to rent the earphones. I almost didn’t get fed because at that time they sold the meals and nobody had told my parents I would need any money. The stewardess looked at my ticket and decided I had “probably” already paid for my meal with the ticket. The food wasn’t very good, but it was better than nothing, considering I hadn’t eaten for several hours before getting on the plane. When we arrived in Philadelphia, I had to stay on the plane until everyone else was off, then the stewardess took me off and helped me find my Dad. I got to stay with him for about a month and then I flew back to California.