Sunday, May 30, 2010

I was a "wild" child, I guess!

To me, the most boring part of any autobiography is the "beginnings" sections. I guess I like to get down to the nitty gritty and don't really give a damn about their early years. Like I say, if you are bored, then skip it! Maybe this will show "me" and you, why I grew up like I did, for better or worse.

When I was around three or four years old, I told the little girl next door, Mary Lou Watchorn, that if she would pull down her pants and show me her "thing" that I would do the same. But, as I recall, she wanted me to go first and just as I lowered my drawers, mother came out the back door and caught me and paddled my behind. This sort of taught me something...don't get caught fooling around. So, I decided to fool around with the boy who lived on the other side of our house. We would sit in the driveway, playing in the sand and take out our penises and cover each others with sand. A very "rough" beginning. I guess that was sexual curiosity, or could it be called homosexual instinct? A lot of people say you aren't born homosexual, but looking back on those years, so long ago, I know they are wrong.

When we moved to Van Wagoner Street, I recall when I would lay in bed at night and look out the window as the snow fell in the winter. The street lights would light up the snow on the ground and the silence was too peaceful to explain now. It's a feeling I have seldom experienced since those days. The snow was beautiful and it glittered like diamond dust had been sprinkled over it. A car would drive by and you could hear the snow crunching beneath the tires. I didn't want to sleep. I just wanted to look out the window, but gradually the tranquility would put me to sleep.

The bathroom in the house, was off from my bedroom and dad and mom would walk through during the night. One night I glanced over to see my dad, naked, walking in (the street lights dimly lit up the room), as he went into the bathroom. The next day mom asked me, "Did you see him?" and I said yes. Then she asked me, "what did you see?" And I said hair! Of course I was referring to his public hair. And then she slapped me and told to never look again when anyone walked through.

I was in grade school at that time (seven years old) and I bought stamps that you would put into a stamp book, and when it was filled you could get a War Bond. World War II hadn't quite ended, although that would be just a few months away. And when I saw that the neighbors across the street were selling a tent, I wanted to buy it with my twenty-five dollar War Bond. It was a large, square shaped tent, with a cot to sleep on and a folding card table to eat on and a couple of folding chairs. It had canvas flaps, to cover the mesh screened windows, to keep the rain out and I loved it. Mom and Dad said I could cash in the War Bond, if this is what I wanted to do. Dad set it up in the backyard but said I, "shouldn't be sleeping in it alone."

There was an older couple who lived a block away on Detroit Street and they had adopted a boy who was now a teenager. He was a real good looking guy and I suggested that maybe he could stay overnight with me. And he did. I was anxious for him to fall asleep so I could "touch" him. Unfortunately, I fell asleep first while he laid there reading comic books. Dad had ran an extension cord with a light-bulb hooked up, so we could read in the tent. The next day, I learned that he and mom had been upstairs, at the window, listening to our conversation in the tent. I was relieved that I hadn't said or done anything that they may have heard, even though I was disappointed. He never stayed all night again, either. I was a "bed wetter" and I guess this scared him off.

Before we lived on Van Wagoner, we lived about a half mile away, on Stewart and Detroit Street, in a small house behind a grocery store. The store was owned by the Haas family and they lived in an apartment above the store. They had a daughter who used to play school with me and teach me to spell. I used to go over to their apartment several nights a week. There was a small room in the back that we used as a school room. She also had a boyfriend, who had been in jail for something and when he got out, all the neighborhood kids were around his car talking to him. He too, was very handsome and one time when the Haas family was having supper, I was sitting on his lap. We weren't hungry so we sat there, while they ate. And someone at the table asked me if I wanted to give their daughter a kiss? I said, no, but that I would kiss the guy. They said, "okay do it." I kissed him on the cheek and got goosebumps.

One day I noticed all the neighborhood kids were walking down the street and I asked mom where they were going? She said they were going to school and if I wanted to go and register, I could. I was only four and a half and you were supposed to be five to go to school. She said to "follow the kids to school and then ask for the Principal and then tell them you want to register in kindergarten." Well, I did what I was told. I followed them and was registered. The school Principal asked me where my parents were? I said mother told me to go and register by myself. I could print my name and address and that was all I needed. Oh yeh, mom had to write a note later, telling them it was okay. Dewey School was on Saginaw Street and we lived on Detroit and Stewart Street. So that was quite a walk for a four and a half year old. Of course I saw a cute guy there that I liked. (He's in a school photo in the manuscript.)

Dad worked at a gas station, (this was before he was hired at the Buick factory), which was a very good job during the war because gas was rationed, as well as rubber tires. He always made money "on the side." He also had a part-time job at Flint Park. Flint Park was an amusement park not too far from where we lived. He used to work at the Old Mill, where rowboats went through a small tunnel, lined with monster-like dummies and ghosts that lit up as the boats went past them. One time he worked on the roller-coaster ride and I got to ride free, over and over. Prior to his working there, we used to go and see the "free" act every night. The park hired a variety of acts, which were used to draw people to the park and they were free to the public. It might be a high wire act, or animal act, but it was popular and drew large crowds. We would usually go home after we saw it.

Dad bought me a two wheeled bicycle, that had solid rubber tires. Although it was rough riding, it couldn't get a flat. And Uncle Charles, taught me how to ride it. He would hold on until I got on, then start pushing me down the sidewalk and then let me go. Needless to say, the bike fell over, and so did I. After falling a half dozen times, I learned to lean in the opposite direction of the way the bike was falling and learned to balance on it. Of course my arms were all skinned up from the falls on the sidewalk.

We lived across the street from Dewey Woods. This was a large wooded area where many people went to have picnics, as well as often fucking in their cars. I spent many hours there, riding my bike through the trails and got to know the woods better than anyone else around. There was a small area where they had caged animals. I remember seeing a bear, a couple of monkeys, and a bald-eagle that Uncle Charles had caught and donated to them. It was in a cage with a sign that said it had been donated by Charles Spivey. I was proud of that and would often tell visitors that my uncle was the one who donated it. Charles lived in downtown Flint with Grandma and Grandpa. They had recently moved there from Detroit Street. I liked to go there because it was walking distance to all of stores and the theaters.

As a kid, I was a loner. On weekends, I used to spend all day in the woods. I would make sandwiches to take with me. Flint Park was on the other side of the woods and I would often go there too. Mrs. Haas from the grocery store, also worked there part-time selling tickets to the rides. Later I learned which bus to take downtown to see Grandma and Grandpa. It was fun going there by myself. Soon I would be living with them when mom and dad got a divorce. Dad had a drinking problem and they were always arguing. One time mom broke a glass jar over his head and phoned the police. Another time they hired a babysitter to watch me and my sister, who was a baby, while they went to a movie. I recall mother telling the sitter, not to use the phone in case they wanted to call to see how things were. Soon as mom and dad were out the door, she was on the phone. She had phoned her boy-friend and he was soon there with a friend of his. I remember the friend was very handsome. It wasn't long before the babysitter and her boyfriend were upstairs in the bedroom. The good-looking guy kept talking to me to keep me downstairs. They even gave me a quarter. Then he moved into the dining room and sat down at the table. (I realize now, that he must have had a hard-on). He said I should sneak up stairs to see what they were doing. I started up the stairs, sneaking very quietly, then as I neared the top, he yelled out,"watch out, he's coming upstairs."

I tried to open the bedroom door but the guy slammed it shut. I went downstairs and the guy asked me what I saw? I didn't see anything but I said he was on top of her. I don't know why I said this, but I did. I guess I must have heard neighborhood kids talking about fucking and I guessed this is what they must have been doing. Then the guy came down with the sitter and said I should go upstairs to bed. I went upstairs but sneaked back down on the staircase where I could hear them talking in the front room, in the dark. They had the girl on the floor and I could hear her struggling with them. One of them slapped her across the face. The guy who had been downstairs with me, was fucking her. I heard one say, "she likes it." I wanted to watch but didn't dare get any closer. Dad and mom suddenly came in the back door. I ran down the stairs and picked up an unused condom they left on the table and said, "look mom, a balloon." Well, the shit hit the fan and the guys flew out of the house, but not before saying I had a quarter that belonged to them. Then dad drove the sitter home. Mom watched the car go up the street and I heard her say, "Look how slow the son of a bitch is driving. I guess he wants to get some too." When I went upstairs, I tossed the quarter under the blanket on the bed, they had been screwing on. They hadn't even made up the bed. I went into my bedroom and when dad got home, mom was changing the sheets and found the quarter. I heard her say, "give it to Bill," and they did. I hope it wasn't bus fare for the guys to go back home.

Another time I recall, is when mother told me (she had read it in the paper), that a neighbor man had died. I told her I had seen flowers hanging at the front door when I passed by on my bike. She said I could go down to the house and see him, (the body), if I wanted to. She said to knock on the door and say I wanted to see, whatever his name was. Being curious, I did go and was invited in by a man who gave me a glass of milk and then showed me the coffin with the body. I had never known the man or the neighbors. The man put his arm around my neck and pulled me close to him. I felt very uncomfortable and just wanted to leave. When I went back home, she quizzed me about what the inside of the home looked like. I guess my going there, was to satisfy her curiosity.

Mom had a phonograph player and a lot of records, which she let me play. These were old 78 rpms. I used to play them for hours. I liked Bing Crosby records the best. I also liked to listen to the radio and as soon as I got home from school, I would go upstairs to their bedroom and listen to the radio. Sky King was the first one I would listen to. And at night, downstairs with mom and dad, I especially liked to listen to "Suspense," and "Inner Sanctum." Dad used to turn the lights off and I was scared to death. A lot of people don't like to be scared, but I loved it. I guess being near dad and mom made me feel safe. But, my Uncle Charles used to scare me too. He would turn the lights out and then hold a flashlight under his face, making him look scary, and then chase me around the room. Mom used to do it too, and I used to have nightmares from that. Radio programs were fantasy but they were real to me.

The war ended and I remember cars driving by, on Detroit Street, honking their horns. I can remember the air raid tests, prior to the war ending, when a loud siren would go off and we would have to go into the house and turn off all of the lights. There would be air raid wardens, around the neighborhood, to see that everyone complied. They wore steel helmets, and had belly clubs and would knock on doors yelling, "Lights out." The blackout test was so that any enemy planes that might fly over, would miss the city in the dark. With all of the General Motors plants there, it was a prime target. Many of the factories were making army tanks. Planes would often fly over the city to see if the blackout worked. And although the war had ended, we received some bad news. My Uncle Darrell Spivey, had been killed by a sniper in Germany. I remember everyone had been so happy that the war had ended and that Darrell would soon be coming home. The fact that he had been killed "after" the war was over, made it even harder to take. Mother got the news by phone. I remember she threw down the phone and was crying real hard.

I know Grandpa hung a special flag with a star on it, in the front window of his home. I believe this was to show that a family member had been killed in the war. I remember he took me to the store with him when he bought the flag. It was so sad.

After the divorce of my parents, mom would move to Lima, Ohio, where we had relatives. I got to live with Grandpa and Grandma in Flint. Grandpa worked at the Chevrolet Plant and Grandma used to wash dishes in a restaurant at the Home Dairy and later at the Hollywood Grill on Harrison Street. Grandpa had a drinking problem. I guess it was over Darrell getting killed. But it wasn't out of control, unless he drank whiskey, then he wouldn't know what he was doing. Most of the time, it was just beer. Grandma used to get into arguments with him, when he came home drunk, with a couple of guys to gamble. She would run them off, cursing at them. We always had food on the table and clothes to wear, but now I know we were living on the edge of poverty. Grandma was going to buy me a new Firestone bicycle, but learned Grandpa had filed bankruptcy, so she couldn't charge it. Somehow, a week later, she bought it for me. I guess I had worn out the one with the solid rubber tires, that I used to ride into the woods. We always had food on the table and Sunday dinners were the best. We had southern fried chicken, chicken dressing (Grandpa was from Virginia), mashed potatoes and gravy, vegetables, all kinds of pies and many....relatives who would drop by.

Grandma bought me many things with her hard earned money. In addition to the Deluxe Firestone bicycle, she would also buy me my first Hi-Fi phonograph player. She was like a mother to me. If I ever needed anything, grandma would try to get it. She kept me in quarters so I could go see movies. I guess most kids today spend their quarters on video games. Grandma, to me, was like all of the great grandmas in films, kind, gentle, and everyone loved her. I'd often sleep in bed next to her and try to adjust my breathing to match hers.

Oh yeh. The tent. Aunt Esta lived there too. And her boyfriend wanted to take the tent somewhere to use when they went fishing. Well, he sold it! I begged them not to let him take it, but they did.



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( In Flint as a teenager-wow!