Photo by Bruce Warrington on Unsplash

Life on Planet AL: the first Decade Or The year of the Corvette

I was born the same year the Corvette debuted. I have always had a thing for the Corvette, even attempting to purchase a brand new one in the early 70s. But at nineteen I really didn’t have the income to afford the car I wanted and ended up with another 1973 Chevy model. I came within $1000 of owning my very own Corvette. But that story is twenty years away.

Stuff I remember happening between 1953 and 1963 is vague for the first five or six years. I do know that in those five or six years I was given an allowance. Those who had an allowance growing up are well aware of the pressure of having money in your pocket. You can spend it, or heaven forbid, save it. My allowance consisted of a quarter. That’s right, 25 cents. In today’s world most of us have dropped a quarter and ignored picking it up. Well, most of us anyway. But here’s the thing back then (1950s) a quarter was nothing to sneeze at. For a quarter I could buy a comicbook (10 cents each) or two or a comic and a Hostess Twinkie, or a soda, and still have a few cents left over for the next time.

But the allowance didn’t last, and it ended with a whimper not a bang. Since it was a surprise, we weren’t exactly rolling in the dough when I was very young (we lived in a cement block house my dad built out in the country) it just faded from our memories.

As a kid I remember having a bad dream (we’d watched the Godzilla movie with Raymond Burr) and my parents brought me into their bed for the rest of the night. I have a vivid memory of sleeping in my parents bed and then on the bedroom wall a Bugs Bunny cartoon played out. It was one of those fun dreams (not like the bad dream of Godzilla) that you would swear was real. Just like I was watching TV. (yes, my life was weird but no weirder than yours I’m sure) Speaking of movies my parents let us watch, another vivid memory is of going to a drive-in movie theatre and watching Psycho. Pretty scary for an eight or nine year old but my sister was even younger. I do occasionally have a moment in the shower when washing my hair, I have to open my eyes even if I’ll get soap in my eyes. I blame Psycho.

Another memory of my youth living in Iowa was the story (I don’t remember it, so I was very, very, young) was told by my mother in those embarrassing story days about how I fell into an open outhouse hole. No, it wasn’t full or even used, it was a new hole just waiting for the outhouse to be attached. And somehow, I fell into it.

A dream of falling though the floorboards of a structure became a recurring nightmare throughout my childhood. Weird creepy nightmarish scenery that followed me from Iowa to Washington. The interesting thing (to me anyway) is that I stopped having nightmares when I moved from my childhood bedroom to another bedroom in my house.

And that move is a story in itself. My parents moved in my senior (high school) year, but I stayed in our house. Here’s another interesting tidbit. My childhood home was purchased in 1961 for $12,000. I had graduated from high school early (Jan instead of June) and was feeling my independence. I paid the mortgage on the house and became the party house for all of my friends. We partied (the neighbors probably rued the day my parents left) and had other adventures in that house. Nothing too exciting as the house had already been host to skateboarding in the living room on the wood floors in my younger days. How to make your mom mad (Dad had encouraged the skating) while having fun.

So, when the parents left for “greener” pastures I moved out of my bedroom over the garage room and into a bedroom in the main part of the house. Okay I’ve got to stop here and make a clarification of my childhood home. From my description here it may sound like I lived in a mansion. I did not live in a mansion. I lived in a two-bedroom house with one full bath with my sister and parents. In our early years I stayed in a bedroom with my sister. That would change once we moved into the house but where would my bedroom be? They built a room over the attached garage. But the garage wasn’t sealed so the cold would seep through the six inch gap between the garage door and the ground. They never fixed that issue with the garage until a few years later when we put up insulation. The garage door still had a gap for the weather but at least the insulation helped a lot. My bedroom was separated from the rest of the house but still part of the house, my bedroom was just up the stairs from the laundry room.

The reality was my bedroom had a creepy vibe and was isolated from the rest of the house. Part of the reason for that vibe was my room held the entrance to the attic and any horror fan knows that attics are the birthplace of ghosts and ghouls. And I’m not a horror fan. There were many a night where I had to look under my bed before jumping under the covers (which of course no hands or feet peeked out as that would be bad).

That first decade held a lot of historical happenings. The space race started its journey to the moon. In the early 60s I remember standing on the playground looking up to the sky as our teachers told us John Glenn was passing over our school. That was probably a lie, but it kept us engaged in the space race.

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