The sky I was born under indicated the Angels were planning a Rumble. This is, of course, if you were to ask our housekeeper Rita, who when we had thunderstorms, told us “The angels are moving furniture.”
My twin and I were born August 28, 1938, and she was robust and I was more squirrel like. But, I’ve nattered on about that before. What threatened in the future for my father and mother and the neighborhood of West Roxbury’s small houses where Protestants and Catholics shared the streets of Oriole, Wren, and gossiped about Tarzan the man who swung naked through the trees at the very top of Wren Street, near the water tower.
We were born, entered a family already a bit intense, my brother, then my sister within the next year, and then the next year, Liz and I. I think I fattened up, a phrase one would only welcome in our narcissistic world when one is a baby and four pounds at that. After 7, years and pounds, consciousness enters slowly.
I probably got home, and cuddled up to my chubby twin, and the Great Hurricane of 1938 struck and smashed and just in general had the biggest weather hissy this generation of neighborhood dwellers had experienced. Electricity was out. People washed clothes with washers and wringers, and hung diapers out on a clothesline. Making formula was highly more complicated and I think they went thru at lest 180 diapers a week. Gives “doing a load of washing, “new heroic tones.
Well, in the meantime, my father who graduated from Harvard in economics was out of work, and within six months after the 1938 War of the Winds and Howling Furniture, shadows of illness struck us, the twins, the babies, and we came down with whooping cough, a serious disease in babies. Children’s Hospital would foot the bill and get us better, and my father was always eternally grateful.
A year later, well a month and a year later, World War II started by Nazi invasions and this would lead to a seriousness of tone, a heaviness, and eventually to our peeing in the dark because of blackout curtains, our jumping on cans to flatten them, my mom smoking my father’s pipe after closing the drapes so the neighbors couldn’t see, and then Pearl Harbor Day where my mom thought my Uncle Tom had died. He had been transferred from one sub to another, and since he was in charge, he scooted his sub out to the middle of the ocean and stayed out, thus my mother’s grief was short. It was a complicated time, a time of innocence, slogans, and unawareness, particularly regarding race and religion.
I would grow up to the sounds of clashing pan tops when Roosevelt died; what can I say — we were the only insensitive Republicans in the neighborhood.
I remember no sounds when Miss Flaherty swept between the school desks in third grade and shook me and shook me because I didn’t know 8 x 7 – which now gentle reader, I will tell you is 56. I remember the sound of Liz crying in 4th grade; okay, okay, we were late bloomers, when the principal came into the classroom and said, “How many people still believe in Santa Clause? And Liz and I were the 2 who raised their hands, and he stilettoed that belief to pieces on a schoolroom floor.
I remember the sounds of my mother’s feet lurching down the stairs announcing, “They’ve electrocuted the Rosenberg’s,” and she was crying, and then the sounds of Chopin, her favorite composer, and his compositions and her hitting the piano keys with an alcoholic force in the middle of the night.
These are some images that shaped our lives. When we lived in Dnepropetrovsk in 1990, I felt as if we had traveled back in time, to the 40s and some of the sounds and sights seemed familiar. To Bill it was the bluing of laundry and stiff sheets starched and ironed, the beating of rugs flung over clotheslines and being whopped every Saturday.
I like sounds and memories.