Distant memories is what they are. Three factors make it hard to accurately remember the events of these early years of my life:
they may be distorted by or combined with other events.
My older sister Pat may read my accounts of my early life and vigorously disagree. She would, in many cases, have a more accurate memory and a better perspective than I. I will try to relate the incidents of my early life as accurately as possible. They did happen almost seventy years ago, after all.
The picture above is that of my Dad, Willard Paul, Sr., and myself. I believe the bushes in the background are blueberry bushes. I heard my parents speak of them with fondness in my early years and I do remember my mother making blueberry muffins and my delight in eating them.
I mentioned in my previous post, “Life on the Farm,” that I started out with platinum blond hair. I find it interesting how life is sometimes concentric — especially if you live long enough. We come into this world naked, owning nothing. We leave the same way. We come into the world with little or no hair and go out the same way. We come in incontinent and cycle back to the same fate. So I started out a platinum blond, had brown hair most of my life, then in my fifties it became black and now has returned to the silvery platinum blond. Oh, that's white, you say?
We were really isolated in those days. That's probably hard for those familiar with Long Island today to realize. We had no car (my dad didn’t drive; wouldn’t drive) and no telephone. How we managed to survive and get along I do not know. One day, while my dad was away, a sheriff's deputy drove up and told my mom that a violent man had escaped from the mental hospital in a nearby town. He warned her to keep a sharp eye out because the man was considered extremely unstable and dangerous. The deputy left and my mother returned to washing the dishes. She looked up and spied the man peering through the bushes just a short distance from the house. Other than being terrified I cannot remember my mother's response to this situation. I do know that we were not harmed.
One memory that stands out is from the Spring of 1948. My dad took Pat and me for a long ride in a taxi. It was cold and there was snow on the ground. We had gone to the hospital in Port Jefferson, where my sister Margaret had recently been born. In those days, children were not allowed to visit patients so we had to wait until Dad, Mom, and Margaret were all ready to leave. Interestingly, I have no recollection of Margaret from that time until we arrived in Reading, Pennsylvania almost a year and a half later. I also have no recollection of my sister Bonnie till then, although she was born fourteen months after Margaret.
I also remember getting my first haircut. Mom liked my hair long, but Dad thought it was well past time for me to be shorn. So Mom and I got on a bus and headed for town. I was three years old. It was a hot and muggy day and the bus did not have air conditioning. No bus did. Nor did cars. Most of the windows were open. So was the door. From my vantage point I could see out the door. I was scared. Terrified. Eventually we got to town and Mom took me to the barber shop, which was in a residence. She told the barber how she wanted my hair cut and left me there. The barber was able to quickly assuage my apprehensions, the locks came off, and I was proud as a peacock to look like a big boy.
On one occasion some people came to visit. We all ended up at a lighthouse. I was too afraid of climbing up to see the light and the view from the top so one of the men volunteered to stay with me. We walked around the base and enjoyed the view of the water. Then my protector decided it would be fun to pick me up and pretend he was going to drop me over the railing into the ocean. The more I screamed the more he delighted in tormenting me. I sure was glad to see my parents coming out of that lighthouse.
My great uncle Harry was a Lt.Colonel in the U.S. Army Air Corps, later transferring to the U.S. Air Force when it came into being. He had gifted me with a scale model of a B-17 bomber, which I enjoyed playing with. The only problem was that it was made of a heavy metal and was almost too heavy for me to hold for long. Unfortunately, it got lost in our move to Reading, Pennsylvania.