Tales of Bloggeritaville posted a very touching piece about the "House That Built Me." I was too tired yesterday to deal with it but thought since today was Father's Day I would address it today. Today is a hard day for me....this is my first Father's Day without my father and I woke up feeling weepy. My dad was an apprentice in the union program when I was a child so we were poor. My first house was a basement apartment owned by Ethel Morton. I adored her. Later, when my dad finished the program we moved into the house next door to the basement apartment. I was the only child on the block and our house was directly across the street from Palm Beach High School's front yard. What a big yard it was. In the evenings my parents would take me across the street to run and rip in the Big Yard. We would place chase, throw the ball, race....and yes I said We....they played with me. That is a lot different from the way it is today with many families. Life was good in the house on Georgia Avenue. Dougie, my brother, and I were both born while we lived on that street. When I was five we moved to the house I lived in until I moved away. We moved to Vedado Park and to 1127 El Prado. It is amazing that I even remember the number. The first day I lived there I met the first of my amazing childhood friends. I met Carol Geiger. She was 5 too and we became inseperable. Carol lived in the house directly behind mine. What made it nice is that her parents Valerie and Harland also became my parents best friends and her sister Cathy"Hun" became my brother's best friend. Our families had bbq's, went to the beach, hung out together and shared in each others lives. That same year I met my other dear friend, Susan Johnson. She lived just around the corner on Locust St. Carol, Susan and I all started Vedado Park Kindergarten that year. We started school back in the day when kindergarten was not required. I love neighborhood schools and when we were six we started Belvedere Elementary. We were the Belvedere Bee's. When I was 9 and my brother was 5, Dougie died at the house. He accidentally hung while swinging on a rope swing in the ficus tree in our backyard. My fractured family dealt with the loss and pain due to the wonderful neighbors and friends we had on El Prado. I remember Halloween's back when they were safe...trick or treating in the neighborhood was fun. We had one guy on the corner who made snow cones for every child that came by. We could eat apples then without worrying about some sicko putting a razor blade in it. Neighbors made homemade brownies and cookies....and Mrs. Dobson gave each of us a roll of pennies. A&W had a rootbeer stand not far from the house and we would go there after a day at the beach. We had hurricane parties...not the drunken bashes that people have today....but the Geigers and my families would stay in one house and play cards. We had BBQ's and Fish Fries and everyone in the neighborhood and my Uncle Cecils family all came and brought a dish. These were huge events. Carol and I would do little mini operettas....sometimes we would pretend we were the Beatles....fix our hair like them, dress up like them, and make guitars out of cardboard and string to play. We had fruit trees in our back yard and I would sit outside in the evening and eat Duncan grapefruits right off the tree. You have not lived til you have eaten a Duncan grapefruit. We also had two Temple orange trees....another great delicasy and they are very hard to find today. I became a Conniston Blue Devil in the 7th grade. It was another neighborhood school. My dad and I buried Peanuts under the grapefruit tree. Peanuts was my first teacup Chihuahua. A speeding car hit him less than 20 feet from me. If she had swerved...she would have hit me. My mom actually wrote a note to the school that day telling them that there had been a death in the family. It was the only time she ever did anything like that. Funny what memories writing will bring back up. We either walked to school or were taken...on rainy days. I had my first childhood kiss under the orange tree in my back yard. I had my first real kiss in the neighborhood. I remember it to this day. Steve McLeod was my first big kiss. I was 13...he was 16. High School was not a neighborhood school so we had to ride a bus for the first time. We attended Forest Hill High School and were the Falcons. By now the loss of my brother was weighing heavy on my family and I could not wait to leave home and go to college. I ended up at Palm Beach Junior College for just shy of two years....and then I quit....a quarter before finishing....how stupid I was. I moved to Alabama to help my grandmother, went to work in a cotton mill banding sleeves on Jeerzees T-shirts, lived with my future sister-in-law, and met my first husband....but that is another day....today is the House That Built me. It was a peach colored stucco house with a stoop and beautiful hibicus bushes in the front...and these red little flower bushes...that we would pick and remove the stems and suck the necture from the. We also had Florida cherry bushes...we did not eat them...we used them as weapons in the neighborhood when we played war, or pirates, or whatever. They actually hurt when they hit you...and would leave a terrible stain on your clothes. My mother had a beautiful flame bush....and it flourished until....my mom was on some health kick...and made me take Castor Oil every morning before I left for school. I learned how to roll it to the back of my mouth...and I would spit it on the flame bush as I left for school....the bush died....I am telling you people....Castor Oil is BAD! My mom never understood why it died. My dad and I would go fishing out of the turnpike, at the end of the street, or in Lake Okeechobee. My childhood....in the House that built me, was memorable. Some of the memories are bad....most of them are wonderful. I went home a few years ago...I took Frank to see where I became me....and was saddened because progress has removed all of what I held dear. The house and apartment on Georgia Ave. were removed to make room for City Center...a big commercial mecca near the Kravitz Center of Performing Arts (on the grounds of Palm Beach High School). My El Prado neighborhood is all gone. It was to be made into a practice sports area for one of the area colleges. I can't remember if it is FAU or FIU. The only thing that remained are the driveways, the bushes that stood next to the houses, and it looked like some nuclear site where a bomb went off...and the world disappeared. I cried as we drove away. It is like "I" never exsisted in Florida.....but for a brief shining moment....when I was young....the House that Built Me...was. Happy Father's Day...Hug those special Dad's in Your Life.
To Joey, With Love....WINNER!
8 months ago