I’ve had fun this week reconnecting with childhood friends on Facebook. It makes me think back to what was the last time I saw them each. I left home when I was 18. I didn’t wait until after I graduated. I didn’t even wait until the end of the day. Rather I skipped school that morning and Kris Krehmeyer skipped also. As soon as my mom left for work, Kris and I piled my clothes into his little chartreuse Karmann Ghia and we dropped them off at Terry N’s house and went back to school. Terry’s mom had agreed to let me live with them while I finished up high school, and she’d gotten us jobs with her at Sears, in the catalog phone sales center. While I was living at home in east Hialeah, my routine was to come right home from school and call my mom. She’d give me instructions about things like bring the laundry in off the line and fold it, and what to take out for dinner. She worked for Western Union from 11:00am until 9:00pm. Mom would prepare dinner each morning, and I’d heat it up at night for my dad and brother. But the night of my 18th birthday, it would be different.
When I’d moved everything out earlier that day, I left my mom a carefully written note. I simply explained that I was 18 and had a job and was going to finish high school. I had moved in with a girlfriend and her family and no, she couldn’t know who or where because I didn’t want my dad to know. I just had enough of his control, no hard feelings, I just don’t live here anymore. And that I’d talk to her each day. I was in that teenage stage of “I hate my father.”
When I got home from school that day, I called mom at work as usual. I was going to not say anything and just let her find the note, but she knew something was up. I spilled the beans. I told her where the notes were (two notes, a second one in case Daddy found the first one and threw it away without telling her about it.) I told her what it said. She was quiet a moment but I knew immediately that it was okay. And she and I were close enough that she knew I’d still talk to her and let her know what was going on with me.
So while she wanted me to wait until after graduation, I didn’t see the point in that. Heck, I wasn’t even GOING to graduation… or prom. That just wasn’t my scene. I had a job. She knew I was responsible. Heck, at 17 I’d already paid off a personal loan from 13 year old Brian Pyke down the street for some car I bought just to lock things away in. I didn’t even drive or have a license. So anyway, she was not too upset about me moving out, although she always called it “when I ran away from home.” She wished me happy birthday and that was the story of how I moved out of my parents’ house.
Earlier today, I learned the phone number of Brian Pyke’s sister Sharron. I’d gotten her number from Miguel Gomez, who lived on our block and had been my brother Bobby’s best friend all the while growing up. His sister Aimee lives across the street today from the house I grew up in. Miguel went everywhere with us my entire teen years, which was fine with me: anyone to keep the kid brother out of my hair. Our dad would make us go camping every weekend in this big Fageol Twin Coach bus he’d converted into a camper.
Daddy would be way nicer when Miguel was around, which I used to think was an act. I realize now that he just enjoyed having two sons to do guy things with. It was a different dynamic with the 3 of them but it was always fun. Miguel said today that if it wasn’t for our family, he would never have gotten to do all the things he got to do while growing up. His family did their thing at home, my family wanted to get out of Dodge. Until he said that, I’d never thought about that. That his inclusion with our family trips made such a difference. All I know is that when he came on a trip, that meant one less pain in the neck brother to deal with.
While our family went on all those weekend family trips through all those years, Miguel’s sister Aimee was hired by my Dad to feed the house cats left behind. Mom would leave her $3.00 in change on our kitchen counter top for her services. For a 13 or 14 year kid that was good money back then. Heck, my weekly allowance was $3 until I was like 15 and went to work.
Anyway, Miguel gave me the phone number of Sharron Pyke, who lived next door to them. Sharron’s folks had the biggest house on the block, on a double lot. They were always building on to it. We figured they were the rich ones. Miguel & Aimee and I had just regular houses, and Albert Orosa’s folks had the new house on the corner. It was very neat catching up with Sharron forty years later and finding she and I have so much in common.
And I can’t wait to connect with her younger sister, Denise. If she’s still speaking to me, that is. I always thought of Denise as a little doll. She was 7 years younger, so I’d dress her up. I mean I’d design patterns and sew blouses and jumpsuits and who knows what all. She’d wear them and I’d think she looked adorable. Then I’d tell her scary stories that finally her mom, Margie, told me stop with the stories already.
Sharron married Bruce Hatfield, her childhood sweetheart. Bruce and Randy’s grandparents had the house across the street from the Pykes and they visited every summer. Sharron was the prettiest girl on the block and Bruce was so handsome, so of course they were meant to be. And 33 years later still are. Is that a hoot?
Sharron told me she had been in touch until just recently with the Jones’ boys, who lived in the house east of mine. David, Danny and Ralphie were all younger and their dad was 20+ years older than their mom. He grew lots of vegetables and greens in his back yard, and our big, speckled rabbit Pepper would always get into his garden. Sharron did not know where the Jones boys were now. Apparently it IS true that it’s hard to keep up with the Joneses.
Also earlier today I spoke with Albert Orosa, who grew up in the house on the corner. We’ve not spoken for maybe 40 years. We’d walk to the bus stop together each day through the school years and harass each other as much as possible. He’s still in town, big downtown Miami business dude, happy family, the whole nine. He remembers being mauled by the ocelots on a regular basis.
There were only this handful of neighborhood kids who were even allowed to ever come in the house because of the cats. But Albert and Miguel were both used to being gnawed and mauled weekly.
So it’s been fun strolling down memory lane and seeing what everyone is up to.
It makes me wonder who I’ll find in another 40 years 🙂
And maybe even on Facebook.
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