I was a baby of the 1950's but consider myself a child of the 1960's. Growing up in two very confusing and effecting decades certainly shaped many parts of my life today. My 1950's were nothing like Ozzie And Harriet or Donna Reed. My mom didn't have pearls around her neck, she didn't drive and there rarely was anything baking in the kitchen. Mom, a graduate of a small Catholic school in Flint, Michigan, was a housewife. My dad didn't have a briefcase nor did he read the paper in his favorite chair after a hard day at the office. Dad, who many years later I was to discover could barely read, was a shop rat who had grown up on a working farm northwest of Flint in Saginaw Country. He spent his entire working career in various laborings for General Motors. There was a stretch in the late 1950's when he was laid off for almost 3 years. As a young kid, I often stood in the cold while he carried a picket sign as the Union was on strike. That is probably where I acquired my hate of cold weather AND having to stand in line! I just wanted to spend some time with my daddy, even if I was environmentally miserable.
Mom and dad had to get married. I was never supposed to know but when my gramma died in 1966, I came across my parents' wedding license. It said August 25, 1951. Sis came along in March of 1952. When I asked what it meant, I was told to shut up. I thought then as now, so what? I only wondered why she had always told me the wedding was in 1951, when it was obvious from the legal standpoint, it wasn't. Years later she told me she didn't want to look bad in front of my gramma's friends. So many of them were very judgmental in those days and would count the weeks and months after a wedding to put you in a category of "have to" or "didn't have to". This group was too refined to call it a shotgun wedding, at least my mom's side of the family was in that category. Dad's side of the family accessed it as that is the only reason you got married! Even funnier was the fact many of these biddies (I use that word with highest affections-one being my godmother) were at the wedding AND the baby shower. They all knew how to count, mom!
Twenty one months later, I decided to rush myself into the world two months early. My dad was hunting somewhere in the northern woods with his brothers, but he let a few know the location of sorts. The State Police tracked him down, but I had already made my debut. Tiny, very tiny, I spent the first 6 weeks of my life in an incubator. Later in life, I heard the story of how my mom went thru labor twice with me. To this day I am still quite confused about this allegation. The whispers and silences when I walked in on tea time discussions and my recent acquisition of my birth certificate with odd entries have left many questions. I have wondered if perhaps I had a twin who died at birth. My certificate says no previous live births YET I had a sister almost two years old at home supposedly elated to meet me? Why also, reference whispers to a 2nd labor? I will never know as all concerned parties are now dead. Except for me and I don't remember a damned thing of that day!
Perhaps as a sign of what was to come, my dad carried me swaddled from hospital to car in late January of 1954 about two weeks before my actual due date UPSIDE DOWN. I didn't wail. I didn't squirm. I didn't ever make a peep. On arrival at my grandparents' apartment (we lived atop Freeman's Grocery store with several one bedroom flats connected by a long lofted porch covered in tar flooring that wrapped around the building), dad unwrapped my feet (everyone had a great laugh) and my sister took one look at me, and spun on her heel. HER daddy was there and there was no other person in the room to her.
....to be continued