The only house I really remember from my childhood is the one we moved into when I was three. The trailer I lived in with my mom and dad prior to the house is kept alive in their memories, not mine. I think I know what street our trailer was located on when we lived in Fostoria, but probably not. No, the only house I called home during my formative years was the single story ranch with a full, unfinished basement. The same house my dad still lives in.
Growing up on that back country road, where the dirt often raised a plume of dust whenever a car or truck would venture by, I spent most of my time with my siblings. While there were other families with kids on our hilly little road, all the girls were older than me. Old enough to be my babysitter when a babysitter was still necessary. It wasn't until my aunt and uncle built a house on the property next to us - property that had once been owned by my great-great grandmother - that I had another girl to play barbies with. My cousin, Jessica, is a couple of years younger than me, but the age difference was never an issue. Our interests always seemed to mesh. They still do.
As I think back on childhood, my cousins were a huge part of it even before this particular set moved next door. Before and after the divorce, my dad would pile us kids into the back his truck and head over to the next little town for a day of visiting. This was a time when seat belts were optional and kids in the bed of a truck was a common sight. Most often the journey would result in a visit with my aunt and uncle - my dad's only brother- or with his youngest sister and her family. Sometimes, it would be a visit to Grandma's house, which burned down when I was maybe ten or eleven years old.
I have so many memories of that little town where my grandmother, aunts, uncles, and cousins lived. Visiting Mina's candy shop was almost sure thing. The adults would give us a quarter each and send us through neighbor's backyards or down the dirt alleyway to buy an afternoon's worth of sugary sweetness. Crossing "main street" could only be done if we were in the company of an older and more mature cousin. Luckily, my uncle's house sat on the same side of that main thoroughfare as Mina's and his house was the most often visited. As I was often the oldest at those gatherings, the house's location made a huge difference.
Also on his side of town, if you can call Fostoria a town when it's really not even a decent sized village, was the softball fields and the playground. As we got older, or when we traveled in a pack, we were allowed to go play there. Of course, we were warned to stay away from the resident biker club, who coincidentally sponsored the youth sports program we participated in for many years. WKRP was the acronym, if I remember correctly. I played softball for WKRP right there on those fields. I was probably the worst player on my team, but I tried so that's okay.
The kid's program also hosted a weekend festival with a teen dance. I remember attending a few of those, too, but those memories are fuzzy. One year it was a street dance, another year I think they used the old fire hall to host the event.
On the opposite side of town, which spans maybe four blocks with "main street" smack dab in the middle, stood my aunt's house. To this day I can't look at that house and not think of Greta. Greta is the ghost my older cousin created to scare the bejeezus out of her sister and us younger kids. Whenever I'd spend the night with them, she'd say things like "I heard Greta in the attic" or "Greta's watching you". As the attic was easily accessible by a door and a set of stairs in the forward-facing bedroom where we often slept, this was terrifying. When we couldn't take the pressure any more, we'd beg to sleep in her room or convince our aunt to let us use the living room for our sleep-over.
What a stinker! I can laugh about it now, but back then it was serious business.
They were also the cousins with a pool and three-wheelers and quads and awesome cars. Theirs was the house were I got ready for my first prom - my boyfriend lived across the street from them. In fact, he wouldn't have been my boyfriend then and my husband now, if not for the match-making skills of the younger of the two sisters. Ken and I shared our first double-date with her and the man she ended up marrying. It wasn't our last double-date when them either. In fact, every now and again, we still get together to go eat dough balls at the restaurant we had frequented as teenagers.
Before we grew into lovesick teenagers, though, us girls would often get to spend time with Grandma. She'd pack us up and head north to the family property in Baldwin. I remember antics in the car that would elicit a laugh and a "oh, girls" or "now, you girls" from grandma. She rarely got mad, but when she did, watch out! Grandma might be a little bitty thing, but the woman is fierce when riled. Not that we made her mad very often. We really didn't. For the most part, us girls all got along really well.
Except that time at Smokerise. I remember Grandma had taken us girls there to visit the beach. I don't know if we were camping there or just visiting for the day. What I do remember is losing my temper with my younger cousin and storming off to play by myself. I don't think my snit lasted very long, but I remember the depth of my frustration. I was so mad!
|I'm the one hiding behind Grandma.|
Strangely, for a group of kids that were around each other all the time, we rarely fought. I think that's why that memory sticks out so much.
I could go on, but this post is already incredibly long, so I'll stop now.