After I got back to the trailer with my grandfather he said he was leaving for a bit, but would be right back. He went to get oil. He also brought back groceries. I’m sure my grandmother said, “You make sure those babies have enough to eat!”
Once mom found out everyone knew where we were she didn’t seem to care who stopped by. One day my brother and I had a visit from his uncle, Marvin. He and his wife had a son who was a few years younger than me.
Marvin asked me if we’d like to come out to their house for the weekend. I jumped at the chance! They had a small lovely home along the river. He told me he had cleared it with my mother to pick us up after school on Friday.
This became a habit… and one I totally enjoyed. It was nice to be away from the dumpy trailer and my mother. Marvin and Lorna, his wife, adored my brother. They had tried for years to have a 2nd child, but couldn’t. We spent most weekends there until Christmas.
Mom was in one of her more disturbed modes right around the holidays and made sure everyone knew to leave us alone. She broke-up with ‘prince charming’ and was back on the prowl. That was never pretty.
Christmas 1962 was the worst I’ve ever experienced.
She came home, drunk, on Christmas Eve around 9pm with a ‘Charlie Brown’ tree and lots of fruits and nuts…(make up your own joke here)…and a roast. She was incapable of putting up the tree, but together we did the best we could. It was something to see! Fortunately David had no idea how pathetic it was. He just loved it. A blessing.
Right after the holidays she found another loser. He wasn’t particularly fond of children, how perfect.
She started getting home later and later. I’d go days without actually seeing her because she was gone when I came home from school, and I was long asleep when she stumbled in. She was never awake in the morning before I left.
Thankfully David was very good at keeping himself amused in a playpen. I’d make sure he had a bottle, and some snacks, before leaving for school.
As the temperature began to nose dive into minus double digits it all came to a head. I had been in touch with my step-father and his family, as well as my own Uncle Ralph and Aunt Jean. They had a deal with the market across the street and covered any phone calls I made. I’m sure they were paying for the food the market would ‘give’ me, too.
I was aware that I had a place to go if I couldn’t stand it anymore. But, for some reason, I kept putting up with all the b.s. and putting off making the move. I’m sure part of it was the dread of starting over, again, at yet another school. Then mom finally crossed the line.
We ran out of oil around 5pm, and ran out of gas shortly after. I went to the market and they said it was too late for a delivery. I wouldn’t get any oil or gas until the next morning. It was freezing out! Twenty something degrees below zero!! Snow up to your behind… something had to be done.
I called mom at work. After she finished screaming at me for bothering her at work, (like she was curing cancer), she said she’d stop and get oil on the way home. She was off work at 11pm, so I thought we’d survive until then.
I took every blanket, coat, sheet and towel, I could find and we huddled under all that waiting for mom… and waiting… and waiting.
She finally showed up around 3am with her new beau, both drunk. When she came in and saw us she remembered.
“Oh, shit! I forgot about the oil!” To which he said, “We’ll go get some right now.” They left WITHOUT US!
Marvin and Lorna wanted us to live with them, and that’s who I called on the morning of January 23rd. I told them I would be making my way out to their house that night. I remember the date because it seemed odd that on January 23rd it was 23 degrees below zero!
After I called I went back to the trailer. She was getting ready for work. She didn’t think it was odd for me to be home from school, because she frequently asked me to stay home with David, if she had better things to do during the day. My attendance record was abominable.
As she left she said, “I’ll see you later.”
I said, “No, you won’t.”
She just looked at me quizzically and walked out the door.
We were gone for 2 weeks before she even looked for us. She claimed she always knew where we were.