Wednesday, April 7, 2010
The Earliest Years (That I can remember)
I guess I was born in George Legare Homes on Eden Avenue. I don't remember anything about it. Not too surprising that, yet I am sure I must have liked it there.
I do remember being a baby however. Its only one memory but it stuck with me and, as insignificant as it is, I count myself among very few who can recall anything prior to being a toddler. I remember being in my crib and having to hold on to the sides to stand. I was alone in the room and had my bottle (back in the day they were glass, and heavy). I must have wanted some company. I don't think I cried at first but I managed to heave my bottle a good way across the room. I don't know why that seemed like a good idea but I did it. And I think I must have regretted it soon after because I remember reaching for it and wanting it back in my hand. Of course it did not come to me. I stared at it, laying against the baseboard on the rose flowered linoleum, half full, and I cried. And I cried... until my brother came in the room and figured out why I was crying and fetched the bottle back to me.
I don't remember anything else of my early, early years.
And then we moved. We moved over to Amboy Street off of Remount Road in North Charleston. Remount was off of Rivers avenue at 10 Mile Hill. We didn't call it Rivers Avenue. We didn't call it Highway 52. We called it Dual Lane. Why? Because it was the only dual laned highway in Charleston. It was huge ( by the standards of the day). Two lanes going West and two lanes going East. Just past 10 Mile Hill ( I can't tell you why that is called that), the road narrowed to one lane.
On the Remount Road side there was a Piggly Wiggly and across from that, on the East bound side, there was a Eagles 5 & 10. And toys. Now, being only 3 or so, I hadn't had the opportunity, nor the wherewithall to avail myself of a proper ladie's purse. However I had a pair of cotton panties and a nickel that I had found and the front of my panties served quite well as pocketbook, for I was going shopping! I do remember this. We lived on a dead end sandy street. At the end, the land sloped down and past a rather formidable jungle of pine and oak, it gave way to The Sand Pit. The other end of the street opened on to Remount Road. And there was one little side street that went from Amboy to Dual Lane (Rivers Avenue) through the side yard of the Binghams house. I must have paid close attention to shopping trips to Piggly Wiggly and indeed even over to Eagle's 5 & 10 store because I made up my mind and went off on my own. I suppose everyone thought the other one was watching me. I was supposed to be playing with my friend, Cheryl, who lived across the street. But my good fortune had it that no one was watching me, and I had no reason to tell them that I was off to do some marketing. A nickel seemed like a large sum of money but it didn't weigh the purse down like I thought it should, so a couple of good handfuls of sand went in for good measure and off I went. My memory is sketchy about the trip through the yard and out to Rivers Avenue, but I made it. I wonder what people must have thought to see a toddler, 3 or 4 years old, barefooted, a load of sand in her drawers, purposefully making her way through the parking lot and to the edge of a busy highway. I remember standing on the side of the road, knowing not to cross it while traffic was coming. That did not stop me from yelling at the 18 wheel trucks to "Stop!" because I needed to get over to the dime store. I offered them my nickel several times, to no avail. It seemed like forever but apparently somehow I made it to Eagles. By then my family was frantic to find me...I am not clear on what happened but I seem to remember something about one of the truck drivers actually stopping, picking me up and taking me over to Eagles. I am sure I could tell my name but not much more. The lady at Eagles called the police. My mother called the police. The police then asked my mother if she was missing a blonde curly haired, blue eyed little girl. When she told them yes, they told her that they and I were over at Eagles, I was having candy or something and they came and took me home. In writing this I am forced to think of how things have changed since then. A child, hardly more than a toddler, makes her way out of the yard, across a major highway and into a dime store to spend a nickel she found. The police are called, the parents come and get the child, and that was the end of it. No Department of Social Services, no charges of neglect or child endangerment... and I am sure that I must have been spanked or scolded after the hugs and kisses for being found safe...Whatever happened, it cured me from wandering out of the yard from then on. I think they might have confiscated my nickel too...