Friday, December 24, 2010

The Passing of Time

Chapter II
From Infancy

I was born on July 5, 1926, in Chicago, Illinois. When I was still small I took convulsions every time I had a fever. Once when my mother was carrying me upstairs to bed I stiffened out right in the middle of the stairway. My mother could neither go forward or backward, so she tilted me up to a standing position and got me back downstairs. I had measles, chicken pox, and hives. When I had the hives, my mother and the doctor were worried about me because they thought the hives might get into my throat and choke me. But I fooled them. I got better. After I'd had those diseases and didn't run a temperature anymore, I stopped having convulsions. The doctor said I'd grow out of them, and I did.
From what has been said I must have been a rather noisy child. I was what you might call "The Problem Child." To top it off I was stubborn. My cousin called me a noisy brat. Now she has a baby that's noisier than I ever was, and my mother feels like going over to her house and calling it a noisy brat.
When I was six years old, I was giving out handbills one day on the Avenue. My brother was too, and I insisted on standing in the same doorways as he did. Finally he got mad and went a couple of doorways down. My father was near so I felt quite safe. I had given out practically all my handbills when I decided I wanted to have a look at my father and brother. I looked all over for them and couldn't find (sic). Well, all my sense of security left me. I just opened my mouth and howled. All the women who were passing stopped to see what was the matter. I wouldn't talk. I just howled. Finally the policeman came over and asked me what was wrong. Well, that was different. I told him. He took me down to the police station. They asked me my name and address. They called in a police car, and I rode home in style in it. When I reached home my mother and father hadn't come in yet so I stayed with the people next door. The woman made me angry because she laughed at me for getting lost and coming home in a police car. When my mother and father came home, I was sitting on our back porch. It seems my father forgot all about me and walked off without me.
At the age of five, I started school. I remember that I was very peaceful while my mother was there, but that was while my mother was there. When I discovered she was gone, I threw a tantrum. If I ever got stubborn and sulky, I wouldn't do anything I was told to do. Once all the children were playing a game. We were supposed to stand around in a circle and one child would be in the center. He bounced the ball and whoever the ball went to that person was supposed to go in the middle. Well, I didn't want to play the game, so when the ball came to me I refused to go in the middle. The teacher thought maybe I was sick so she asked if I was. Right away I got the idea that I was sick. I said yes I was sick. I was sent into the lunchroom to lie down on the daybed. I didn't lie down very long. The cook was making the lunch and I could smell it, on top of it I was hungry. I went into the kitchen to see what there was to eat. Five minutes later I was contentedly munching a banana.
When I was seven years old, I went to the hospital for the first time in my life. I made sure that I stayed there for one day only. I had my tonsils taken out. I got an awful scare that day. When the nurses were wheeling me out of the room on the table, a nurse came in. She had a pair of scissors in her hand. She grabbed hold of my nose, ordered me to open my mouth, and prepared to put the scissors down my throat. The end was at hand; I was sure of it. I gathered myself together and made up my mind that I would not scream, pain or no pain. I was in earnest. I opened my mouth and closed my eyes. You can imagine the feeling that went through me when I heard the nurses laughing. It was an awful letdown. In fact, I felt as thought I had been cheated. There I was, prepared to be brave and what happens? I get laughed at.
When it came to the real McCoy, I didn't pretend. I screamed my lungs out. I tried to break the straps that held me down to the table, but the doctors and nurses didn't play fair. They clapped the ether over my face, and soon I was dead to the world. I was still fighting when they untied the straps. I was unconscious, but swinging my fists around very well. I socked the nurse in the stomach and nearly hit my mother on the chin. When I came to , I wouldn't let my mother out of my sight, in fact, I still don't know how she got home for supper. Anyhow, I went home that night.
When I was eight years old, I was hit by a car. Two people proclaimed me dead. My cousin, who is younger than I, and my girl friend. I was taken to the doctor's office and nearly raised the dead with my yells. I had a slight concussion, both my eyes were swelled up and were black and blue, and my knees, ankles, elbows, and face, were cut and bleeding. It took me about two or three weeks to recuperate.
Nothing much happened to me after that accept(sic) the time when I got a deep gash in my knee. The girls and boys on our block had a fued(sic) with the girls and boys on the next block. Naturally I was a ring leader. I lead our gang down the alley to meet the foe. The conquering heroine, that was me. I soon had my cockiness knocked out of me. The opposing army came thundering down on us and in an effort to get out of their way, I slipped in the gravel and fell on the jagged edge of a broken milk bottle. The battle ended in a deluge of rain. My tears. Everybody had to help me home. I still carry the scar of that heroic battle.

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