…my best friend, Farfel, in our first trailer. Yes, for those who may not know, I spent my very early years in a trailer park, one of many that flourished after World War II. It was a way for returning GIs to get onto the property ladder––the idea was to start with a trailer and gradually move up to a house.
At this time, we lived in a beautiful spot in Wallingford, Connecticut. The trailer park was located well off the highway; you drove through a wooded area to the clearing where the trailers were. We all had yards to play in and a playground. The people who owned the trailer park raised ducks. I used to go down the road to their house and help the wife feed them. There was a nearby pond where wild ducks stopped over when they were migrating. I had a lot of friends and we were all free to roam around unsupervised, in a way that would have social services on red alert if you did it today. I mean, I was three when I trotted down to the duck pond to see the wild ducks. Sometimes I went with friends, sometimes I went by myself.
When things got bad and my father lost yet another job, one of the neighbours would give my mother and me a lift into town so we could hide out in a movie theatre. I remember seeing The Ten Commandments one afternoon, at an age when my mother claims I should have been too young to remember anything. I don’t remember the whole movie; what I remember specifically is what happened when Moses came down from the mountain and found everyone worshipping a golden idol.
The thing about a trailer is, when you move, packing is easy. You just nail down anything breakable and go. We eventually moved away; my father parked us behind the gas station he owned with his brothers in upstate New York. No park there; things deteriorated. Old Eternal had to call the police for help when she tried to leave. The Highway Patrol had a barracks right across the road from the gas station and they sent a couple of strapping young men to make sure we could remove our belongings and put them in the U-Haul my Aunt Loretta and her partner D had hooked up to their car. It wasn’t the first time the police had come to our house but I knew it would be the last and I was right.
The move meant I had to drop out of kindergarten but that didn’t bother me a bit. The school was also right across the highway, not far from the State Trooper barracks. Most of the kids weren’t very friendly and neither were the teachers. I overheard my kindergarten teacher referring to me as ‘that trash from the trailer behind the gas station.’ I didn’t tell Old Eternal until after we left. Old Eternal assured me she was just jealous because she was only plain old trash.
Strained days, but Old Eternal managed to make a lot of silk purses out of those sow’s ears.