Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941. WW II, 1939-45.
Fast forward and there I am at 16, walking to Bradford Junior College from high school, along the bridge across the Merrimac River. (I’ll then go home with my father after he’s finished teaching.)
There we are marching down the main street of Haverhill, all in white blazers. Is it because the war is over? (I don’t remember much about the war except that there was rationing of sugar. We had bees so that didn’t make much difference. )
High school classes let out early. I’m in the 5 and 10, surreptiously slipping a lipstick into my pocket. (my father disapproved of lipstick and in college he told his students not to use it while the history teacher said she didn’t want to see white ghosts in her class)
There I am walking, by myself, along Main Street up to where the houses stop and it becomes countryside with an underpass beneath the railroad tracks. Then it’s fields and a hill and I’m home. (Takes me less than an hour and I hadn’t wanted to wait for my father to finish his classes.)
There’s the great elm tree by the railroad. From behind the house my sister and I can see the freight cars snaking by and count them. Once we counted up to 100. (Now in 2021 elm trees don’t exist any more)
A snake is looking at me from my father’s terrarium in his classroom. Once it escaped and ended up in the dorm where a student bent down to pick up what she thought was a belt until it wriggled away. (You can imagine the screams that followed.)
My sister and I. Making dresses out of wallpaper samples for our paper dolls. Soon my father will call and tell us to stop making so much noise since he’s resting. (Bouncing a ball off the clapboard siding was unthinkable in the afternoon)
It’s a hot summer and I’m weeding in the garden, topless. After all we are at the end of the road and no one ever passes by. (I’m still an adolescent and my breasts haven’t developed yet)
My sister and I are dancing naked under the sprinkler on the lawn. (That was a hot summer and I used to go to bed wet after taking a shower.
There I am up in the cherry tree, eating sour cherries till my teeth hurt.
There’s Tippie, our collie, following me on my walks. He got into trouble once when he killed a chicken.
I’m up on the hill behind the chicken coop/garage, lying next to a big rock on the long silky grasses and watching the clouds go by. I’m barefoot and yesterday stepped on a garter snake. (Don’t know who was more frightened.)
That vine climbing up over the shed is one I picked out. Silver lace it’s called.
(I was in charge of flowers and one year planted rows and rows of pansies which wouldn’t bloom till the following season.)
A girl taking aim with a twenty-two. That’s me. (Once shot a rabbit that was eating our lettuce and never killed another animal, woodchuck or rabbit, after that)
To be continued