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My parents met in a bar in San Diego, CA. Dad was a sailor in the U. S. Navy and Mom was a waitress in some greasy spoon. She was gorgeous with her 1951 hair and knee-length full skirt. That is, if she wasn’t wearing slacks. I really don’t know. But I do have a picture, taken when she was 21. Her face and hair remind me of Barbara Stanwyck. And Dad, a sailor, in his Cracker Jacks. Yes, it was a picture, but he was so handsome in that uniform. No wonder they got together.
And they did. Pregnant, that is. Mom’s fourth child. (That is another two stories.) Dad’s first. They married and Dad shipped out. On July 2, 1952, Mom delivered a stillborn boy. Dad was flown back to a woman he had married because of a child and a child that had never drawn a breath.
This boy, my brother, was buried alone, in a strange cemetery, without a name. Just "Baby Boy Wiley." Barb went home and Don shipped out.
As the years passed they had four more children. We are all girls. Can you see the disappointment in my daddy’s eyes? I can.
When I was three we moved to Illinois. Donna was a baby. Debbi’s five.
A little, white, clapboard house with a screened-in front porch was our new home for a little while. Then, a big, gray, shingle house with lots of rooms. Daddy works at the power plant and Mom stays home.
I’m eight and I’m helping Mommy and Daddy. I go to school all day and help in the evening.
The Candyland is where I help. We sell chocolate by weight. Stars. Drops. Anything chocolate. Daddy painted the front of the Candyland like a red and white checker board. Daddy bought a pinball machine and a juke box. They’re in the back room and everyone is free to drop their coins into either one. If you know my daddy, you know he has a way to play without money. A simple clicker, but that’s our secret.
Dale, a friend who walks and talks funny, is teaching me to dance the two-step. I’m so happy. I can’t wait to show Daddy.
I help at Don and Barb’s Recreation Center now. It has a long bar. It’s a pool hall for kids. We sell burgers and fries, candy and soda pop. There are six regulation-size pool tables, the juke box, and now, two pinball machines. There are several round, felt-covered tables. Daddy says they’re card tables but we can’t play cards now. It’s illegal.
Bobbi is taking a nap on the first pool table. A cue ball bounces from the next table. BAM! It hits her in the head. She isn’t crying. Mom took her to the doctor. Mom’s home. "Bobbi’s real sick. She has pneumonia and can’t wake up. She’s in the hospital." I send her my new dolly.
My sister, Debbi, a neighbor boy named Michael, and I, are shooting soda pop cans with his BB gun. As I set up the cans in a pyramid for Debbi, she shoots. The BB hits me square between the eyes. There’s so much blood but it doesn’t hurt. Daddy is mad! He’s beating Debbi so bad that Sheriff Flynn is dragging him away.
Don and Barb’s Café is open. It’s across the street from my school. Now, not only do I go to school and help evenings, I help on my lunch hour. I can cook now so I’m by myself sometimes while Mom and Dad are at Bud’s Tavern. Which is next to his wife, Lucy’s, Café.
It isn’t all that bad. The high school kids come in on their lunch break. They come for burgers and fries, music and pinball. Gary calls me freckle-face. It’s O.K. from him. The best part–I get to play off their won games after they go back to school! And, I get tips. Dale always gives me a dollar.
Debbi just locked Donna, Bobbi, and me in the house and left. I’m pounding on the door window and screaming to be let out. The window breaks. My wrist is bleeding. Oh, the back door isn’t locked. I walk downtown, holding my wrist up all the way. The two old men sitting on the park bench ask me what’s wrong. I wonder why the water fountain on the corner doesn’t work. I find Mommy. She puts a band-aid on my cut. They brought Debbi home. What happened?.............. Quiet.
Please keep it flowing, you are on to something, and letting it flow is good.....tell us more...yo've uncorked the bottle, pour out some more, please share with us. I agree, this streaming flow of consciousnes.is good..it puts us there with you...like we feel it, smell it, sense it, and you paint the picture without a lot of flowery phrases, amazing...keep going. Very good!