We moved to PA when I was 10 or 11. I remember the day we stepped foot into the house. It smelled like Pine-Sol. It was big and I fell in love with it immediately! It was in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by hay and Timothy fields and woods and a potato field.
It was so very quiet. Occasionally, you’d hear a semi going along the interstate just a few miles away. I remember many days sitting outside, alone, digging in our red clay driveway, in the hot sun… red clay makes fantastic mud pies you know…
I dug up some really neat rocks in the shade of one of the barns one day. I loved riding my bike back and forth along our desolate road. I’d spend hours wandering in the woods or through the fields. To this day, when I hear a small plane in the sky, it reminds me of that first summer there in PA.
We had a water pump out front that pumped ice cold water all summer long. I used it often to quench my thirst, and to cool off, and for making mud pies 😉
I spent a lot of time alone. I was happy there. My mom loved baking and making butter and breads.. my dad hunted and we always had fresh eggs and fresh milk. One time the cows got out and got into a garlic patch. The milk the next day reeked of garlic.. we couldn’t drink it.
I ate rabbit for the first time, in a pot pie, during our first winter there. Mom told me it was chicken. When the truth was revealed, I was NOT happy. I don’t like being duped.
I had to help my dad chop wood, as that is how we cooked and heated the house. Our neighbor down the road had a small saw mill. I used to help him, too. His grandson lived with him and his wife. His name was Scott Shives. Scott and I became good friends. I used to wander down through the field to their house often. There was a stream that was mostly underground, that ran through that area. In the middle of that field was a huge, deep hole. I used to sit some times, just listening to the water tinkling along. It had a lot more water in it in the Spring and Fall. It came above ground again right near Scott’s grandparents house. We used to drop toy boats in the hole and try to make it to the house before the boats. We never did beat those boats!
That field is now a full forest of trees. It blows my mind and makes me feel old.
Scott’s grandparents are both gone now, as is Scott. He was killed in a car accident in his Senior year of high school.
We had another neighbor, Clarence. He was a sweet old man. He had lost his wife just prior to us moving in. He spent a lot of time with us. His loneliness was evident.. He was my buddy, my friend… he never tired of my endless questions or my rambling on about anything and everything. I helped him cut and bail hay, helped him feed his livestock and round up cattle.. he’s gone now too. He lived to be 95. I found his daughter on FB and we chat. It’s nice. She looks just like him.
School was a nightmare. Fifth grade was the worst. I had a teacher who, for whatever reason, singled me out and often ridiculed me in class. She would make jokes about my cheap shoes, or about my then ever-present cowlick. If I raised my hand for anything at all, she ignored me. She’d look me in the eye and move on. She moved me to the front of the class one day because the boy next to me had taken my notebook and would not give it back to me, so I got up and took it from him, forcefully. She would stand directly in front of my desk while she taught. She spit a lot when speaking. It was unpleasant. One day, I accidentally kicked her while swinging my legs back and forth. My feet didn’t reach the floor and would sometimes fall asleep, so I’d swing them. She made a HUGE scene. You’d have thought I stabbed her! Off to the office I was sent.
I’d throw up every morning while waiting for the bus. She had me so riddled with anxiety. It was awful.
I didn’t make many friends there. I had Scott. And my bestie there was Tina. I spent a lot of time with her and her brother George. In the summer, Scott’s cousin Dean was always around. He was cool until that summer prior to 6th grade. Dean followed me wherever I went. It was cute at first, til he wanted to kiss me all the time. At that point, boys were still icky to me. He tried to get me to have sex with him. I told him to go jump off a cliff. I was 11! He was 14 or 15. 😳
I started 6th grade and all was well. No anxiety! I don’t think we were more than a month in when I got a note from the office lady telling me to say goodbye to my friends. That was to be my last day at that school.
We were moving back to Massachusetts. …..
To be continued…