AN IMPERFECT CHILDHOOD... SCHOOL DAYS....
Speak honestly to yourself of the people you knew.
Recalling the kind ones who taught you lessons in love.
The thoughtless ones who made you feel the bitterness of their own self doubt .
And the very human ones who may have done both.
I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s in the midwest...and just like all over the US people were filled with a kind of hopefullness about the future. The 2nd world war had been over for years and our country had survived the depression years before that. There was a real pride in being an American. Our country also became very mobile with the completion of the interstates. My parents were the first generation of Americans who would have the wealth and mobility to go where ever they desired to find a job. And go they would!!
The first town we moved to after we left the farm was Des Moines, IA. it was only about 4 hours away by car from Webster City so it was nice to have family still somewhat close. My mom had always wanted to live in a city and had spent her whole life on a farm. She had spent her whole married life with my father at her side doing all the farm work...and we kids had him there all day as well. The biggest adjustment was to learn to live without my dad there on a daily basis as he had gotten a job managing 2 Sinclair Gas Stations. My parents had an easy entry inro the financial part their marriage with a free home to live in and all the food you could want grown on your own farm. So This was a big wake up call for them. Paying rent. and trying to feed 4 growing kids. I remember that year well it was the year my parents grew up and realized what they were really in for trying to do this alone. It was the year we were always hungry...I don’t ever remember feeling that before in my life. The hunger was’nt just about food it was a hunger for the past that had been full of family and friends a hunger for my father’s prescence especially by my mom...a hunger for the recent past as even us kids knew this was a whole new world and there was no going back.
In those days we only had one car so my mom had to walk us everywhere...school, grocery stores and church. My mom has said many times when she thinks back to our time in Des Moines she walked around in a kind of haze she ...as though she had been dropped into someone else’s life. All the things about being a farm girl that she had been so desperate to escape..the back breaking work, the long boring days but most of all the isolation. So here my mom is a last getting to experience what a city life has to offer...Street lights and tall buildings the hustle and bustle of city life.. and of couse she is miserable. But this is what I love about my mom. She is so dedicated to my dad and my dad’s dreams that he will never know if she is sad. This is the pact we had with her as children whenever we were moving again...no crying to anyone but her. Mom never wanted dad to feel guilty for making a difficult decisions so she took all we had...anger...tears...sobbs. My mom had such a silent strength...looking back now she was so much stronger than my dad could ever dream of being.
EARLY SCHOOL YEARS...
Kindergaarten...My teachers name was ms peacock...There is not much I remember of that schoolyear. I pulled the fire alarm one day to get out of something that I did,nt want to do. I made my first friends that year...and fell in love with the boy next door, who or course my brothers then had to beat up. The only thing I remember realy well from my kindergarten year was that our preisident JFK was killed...I never in my life saw so many people cry. i remember I had been sitting with my mother doing laundry watching soap operas when the news reports broke into the show. I had never seen my mother cry until that day. I remember us all glued to the tv watching his beautiful wife and those haunting images of his children...brave faces in black and white for all to see. A beloved president died that day and part of the hope that president Kennedy had instilled in us as a country died with him.
In the middle of my kindergarten year we moved to Souix Falls, South Dakota where they have no kindergarten so my Mom says I drove her crazy since I was so used to being at school. The first house we rented was really a cool floor plan and brand new so fun for us kids who grew up in a 100 yr old home. It was on the edge of town in a new subdivions so just a few other houses out there were done It was wonderful to have the freedom to run anywhere you wanted since it was such a quite area. Especially after leaving the busy traffic laden neighborhood we had lived in in Des Moines. This would be one of many New Subdivsions we would come to love in my childhood years. If you think about it from a kids viewpoint a new subdivision had it all!! New unfinished houses to explore with friends. Mounds and mounds of dirt from the holes dug for the foundation that make for the best bike jumbs and trails in the history of kiddom. The utter joy of having only having to share it with a few friends. The one and only downside to the New Subdivision was the lack of shade trees. So we did alot of hanging out in garages over those years. We would only live in Souix Falls for a yr and a half. I would go to 1st grade in 1 school there and 2nd grade in another since the home my parents bought was in another area.
This was the first home my parents bought. It was Story and a half style built in the 30’s nice yard no central air in those days. Nice neighbors ok neighborhood in more developed part of town. One of our neighbors wifes was a professional chef who taught my mom how to make tacos. In those days there were very few procesed foods. No one had even heard of Mexican or Chinese food. Everything was american...meat and potoates. In those days making tacos was quite a production. You made the dough by hand, rolled into tortias ,fried them on stove in a pan of oil. We just loved tacos, they just seemed so exotic at that time.. I remember our milk and ice-cream were delivered to your home in those days all the houses had a little silver thermal lined box by your door in case you were’nt home when it was delivered. This was the year the music world called the British Invasion. I remember waiting breathlessly with my borthers to see the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show...and all of us using tennis rackets to play guitar!!! It was such an amazing time for music ...Americans got to experuence so many great artists the Rolling Rolling Stones among them. Next we will move to Mankato, Minnesota.
The Move to Mankato was kind of nice because for the first time in quite a while we would have family near by as my mom’s uncle Clint lived there, My dad got a job in sales for a company called Iowa Vet Supplies he got to work with our uncle there too. Our first home in Mankato was on Kraig st. It was a story and half just life our last home. We had a nice big backyard that had was a shortcut to a small conveince store so I ran lots of errands for mom. I went to 2nd and 3rd grades at Washington Elementary. I remember walking to school and being a little afraid of the traffice light on Madison ave...people beeping at you to hurry...I was shy. My 2nd grade teachers name was Mrs. Standish. This was the year I started lying...sometimes really well like after a girl moved here from holland and got so much attention....I decided I was from Germany...and oh yea also adopted as well. And since on two of my favorite shows... Hogans Heroes and Combat had a lot of german spoken in it knew enough to fool the teacher!!!
My casual relationship with the truth is not something I am proud of and in fact I would be this way for many many years ...The bottom line is that you cannot put young children through the kind of treadmill of grade schools(for me 6 schools in 6 yrs) Environmental changes left and right and in those days no real effort to help you emotionally adjust. In fact when our babys sister Jen was having trouble they counted on me and my older brother Dave My parents generation were were an interesting bunch. They had been raised by people who had fought in wars and had survived the great depression. The only way to make your mark in life was to succeed financially and socially. My parents generatiion were much more interested in how we all looked on the outside...Had no clue about what really happened and most of the time no interest. All I learned from gradeschool was how not to stand out...don’t let your enemy know your weekness...whatever that be. In fact we moved so much in those early years that somehow I missed learning to tell time. I remember every new classroom the teacher would put me in front of the class introduce me and ask what I had learned so far at my previous school...After a while I just said I knew everything they knew....I was so embarrased that I did’nt know how to tell time that I did not even want my mom to help me learn. .Sadly at some point my own my mother had become an enemy.
Next we would move to a house on E Main St. The house, a 3 bedroom was a split foyer...it was our first home with Central Air. I remember walking into this house the first time and with it’s big open entry beautiful rod iron light fixture and rod-iron rails even a hugh mural was on the highest entryway wall!! I was so proud that we owned this home. For the first time in my life I got to feel this better life my mom/dad always said we were moving or changing jobs to get to. If this was middle-class then I loved being middle class!!!. It was the first reckroom we had that we actually wanted to hang out in it had paneling on the walls and shelves that you could display stuff on This is the first bedroom I really remember ...I loved the settup we had in our room queen bed with a brass hearts on it and two dressers and a desk between them and shelves above them...I just loved that room . My brothers had had wood bunk beds their whole childhood . Us kids bedrooms were in the basement so it was nice for all of us to have more space to spread out. cuz hey were all growing up.
I went to Kennedy Elementary.. I was very excited to go there... Kennedy was my favorite President and the building just has a very cool look to it with the dome and all and It was brand new. I was there 3rd, 4th and part of 5th grade. The School was only 4 blocks from our house but did not feel like that in the winter. This was the the first neighborhood I really liked and felt like it was mine. My best friend Wanda was 2 doors down and the Johnsons boys on one side of us and the Grahm boys on the other. Across the street also a couple big families as well.This was onceagain a new subdision so fun biking on the paths and making forts in trees . My parents worked hard and played hard so they seemed to really enjoy getting together with friends no matter what area we lived in. We had lots of parades with wagons,bikes and trikes. It was also the first time I was the leader of my block There is something about kids as a subculture that just demands someone lead. I never wanted to lead but always got stuck doing it. Otherwise no important decesions, like should we play barbies, ditch, red rover,or kick the can would ever be made!!!
In 5th grade I had my first boyfriend Steve Mielke nice shy blonde boy I had a crush on for ever...and two other boys made me miserable everyday picking on me coming home from school so I guess I had other admirers in them. I would have the first Moving Away party thrown for me...one of only 2 that I would have in my entire life...Next we would move to Faribault Minnesota.
By the time we moved to Faribault we were all seasoned travlelers.
My parents had narrowly escaped getting a divorce. I had learned that my father had fallen in love with our nextdoor neighbor and my mom’s own best friend. In those days there were few counselors so my parents went to our church pastor for help. This woman was also the mother of some of my best friends so as a child I thought that my dad loved them and not us . It was very shocking to see my parents behave so humanly, especially my dad who had expected such perfection from us!! Right or wrong up to that point in my life my dad had been my hero. I was only 10 but from then on the blinders had to come off. From this point on I was not just looking out for bullies I was looking out for my mom and I would never let anyone blindside us again.
My parents had gotten really good at picking homes and neighborhoods that we would all love. After all these years of searching my father had finally found his dream job!!! He was a sales manager with an Investment company called Investors Diversifiedy Services ( IDS ). Now that his job search was done we would have the utter joy to get to live in Faribault the longest we would live anywhere 7 years,
We Jones kids were good at everything most kids would never have to be good at !!! Tearless goodbyes to friends. Quietly studying the new neighborhood and the kids to see where we might fit in. Helping eachother adjust to whatever land mine lay ahead. Us 4 kids were like any other kids. Most of our younger years we fought like crazy and could hardly stand to even be near eachother. But after all those moves we 4 had become like an eliite fighting force surviving a tour of duty. We knew all of our strengths and weaknesses and how to incorporate them in this new as yet unknown battle ground.
My oldest brother Steve was in 9th grade when we moved to Faribault. He was so much older than me and my younger sis that he only interacted with us if he was forced to babysit or something. Steve was good at everything that mattered to our parents. He excelled in several sports got good grades and was popular. He was very active in student actities like student councel and the newspaper. He had a very unique sense of humor people just loved. The only weakness in Steve was in his love life He was one of those great looking jocks that look good on paper but not in person. I just think it took him many years to get compfortable with women.
My older brother Dave was in 7th grade when we moved to Faribault. I have often thought my brother Dave was born under some unlucky star..My brother Dave had the misfortune to follow my GOLDEN oldest brother Steve..Dave had some learning issues that later would later be diagsnosed as ADHD. This made it seem to teachers and my parents that he was’nt even trying in school. Dave was the only child my father found so frustrating to raise that from 2nd grade on he would repeatedly beat him. Dave was 2 years older than me but I have always felt protective of him my entire life.From the moment I Ifirst watched my mother do nothing to protect my brother it seemed like it was my job to do. Dave was great at surviving everything bad that happened to him without keeping score for some grand revenge in the future. He was brave too, he actually did some of the same sports Steve did even though it was not him at all to do it. And one sport was cross county...long distance running which he did enjoy. He was very creative and loved art and playing the guitar. Some of his favorite times were playing in his band. And women old and young just adored Dave and he loved them right back.
My baby sister Jennifer was in 3rd grade when we moved to Faribault so she simply by birth order avoided some of the drama and moving in our early years. My sister also through no fault on her part was a girl like me and a very cute little girl...much cuter than me I thought almost from day one. So I was always a little resentful that she had taken away the only thing I had going in our rambunctious family to get some attention... I was the only girl! Jennifer was always a tomboy so we called her Jeff. She could be a tough little kid but she was very sensitive and cried easily. I remember it was’nt long after we moved to Faribault that some boy was bothering a friend of hers and she ended up getting in a fight with him and winning the fight. And he was the class bully...but my sister got in more trouble than the boy because girls should’nt be violent ...As Bob Dylan wrote...The Times They Are A Changing...
I was in 5th grade when we moved to Faribault and I was great at only 1 thing. I was uniquely qualified to read people. After years of studying the subtle cues in my own house so I could pre-empt an escallation of anger into violence by my dad. I had learned alot of tricks over the years to distract my father if he came home in a bad mood. I had learned that now that my brother Dave was older and faster a few second distraction and he could sprint away.
This skill to study people that I had developed made a grades school classroom like some silly game I got to play for fun. Considering that if I got it wrong no one would get hurt. . After being in 6 gradeschools in 4 yrs...I was like a professional card player reading tells. Give me 2 minutes and I would be able to point out our future prom queen and the class bully. In all my classesrooms in the past I had perfected being invisible. Now doing that again was too dull to even contemplate. Besides I was older and a alot more comfortable in my own skin. I needed something much more challenging than replaying a game I had already perfected. I needed a brand new game I decided to be popular.
This is what it amazing about looking back at your life the is that the days that so many comment about in our young history as americans ...and I am only 50 and have been a witness to so much already. I have already talked about Kennedy’s Death and now the Beatles on Sullivan...I also Saw Armstrong walk on the moon 2 sad incidents with the space shuttle the unbelievable horror of 9/11 and devastating Katrina.
And we did not own a home with Central airconditioning until our 2nd home in Mankato.
In the 50’s and 60’s there were only networks on tv ABC,CBS and NBC. Most people had 1 black and white tv in their households. In just a few years most would have color tv. The programs ran from 6:00 am to 12:00 am. There were no remotes so you had to get up and walk to the tv to turn the station or turn the volume up. After awhile manufactures combined the tv with a turn table to play records...these were pretty good size and usually had flip up top or slid top to get to the album and turntable. this big unit was called a tv console.
Next we are off to Mankato,MN