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Updated on May 8, 2011


After our return from the Central Valley of California to our small burg north of the San Francisco Bay Area, we stayed at my Grandmother’s home for almost a year. During this time, many of the things we; my mother, brother and I, took for granted began to cede to change and variation. No longer were all the lawns mowed precisely and evenly as they had been around our first home. No more were evenings quiet without even a hint of activity as it was in our former, bucolic neighborhood. In our new environment; daytime sounds morphed into nighttime noise. Street activity continued well into the dark hours whereas, before, there was much space between our house and the next and, even then, the “next” house was as still as ours. The framework around which life unfolded was quite different; with a hint of excitement simmering just below the surface.

Homes were built much closer together and many types of dwellings occupied the same block. My grandmother, being quite an independent entrepreneur, had a large lot in this semi-industrial area, and she decided that there was a great possibility for income. She hired a contractor to build a 4 unit rental complex behind her home. The work was done quickly and, before we knew it, she had all four apartments leased. My brother and I would venture into this strange new world, inspecting this and exploring that. It wasn’t long before we got to know all the residents; most of whom were very friendly and welcoming. In fact, the family of one of my grade school classmates moved in shortly after completion of construction.  We hadn't been that close then but, though it was strange at first, soon, we were striking up a renewed kinship now that we shared something in common.


Again, brother and I found ourselves in a strange new world, experiencing another aspect of life. I remember how foreign it felt, playing on asphalt rather than huge swaths of grass or field. I recall how the heat of the afternoon radiated from beneath my feet; causing undulating waves before my eyes. I was aware of how there were so few green, growing plants. I wondered what it must be like to live in this stark place. I had a feeling of sympathy though, at the time, I wasn’t able to put my finger on it.

My mother started to look for work and a new home. As an adult now, looking back, I can see how trying a time this was for her. Newly divorced (again), in need of employment and desperately wanting a home for herself and her children, this was an extremely difficult time for her; a young mother of two rambunctious, curious kids. She had arrived at a point where she was no longer content nor happy to be living in Grandmother’s house; and the friction began to fester between the two of them. Never the closest of relationships, anyway, the circumstance did not lend itself to nurturing their mother/daughter dynamic. Some days were very tense, with mother shooing my brother and me into a room with the order to “stay still, be quiet!” And we did; and we were.


Soon, my mother had found what she thought would be the perfect home for rearing young children. Unhappy with the ‘upwardly mobile’ social and cultural constraints; and the world of double standards (Stepford Wife as an example) she had endured during her marriage to my father; she choose a humble 3 bedroom home in a middle class housing development which had been built more than a decade before resulting in time enough to foster green lawns, medium sized shade trees and lots of volunteer growth which softened the edges and eased our transition. Located in a ‘nice’ part of town with a grade school in walking distance; safety and security were all but guaranteed. She had played the role of wife to our town’s favorite son for enough years to know that that life did not appeal to her while this one did.

My mother came to California during the “Grapes of Wrath” era of our country’s history. Her father and mother immigrated directly from Germany and landed in America’s Heartland, Oklahoma. There, they established themselves as successful business people; owning and operating a thriving bakery shop in Oklahoma City. They did quite well and lived a good life until the Great Depression. As happened to so many businesses large and small; theirs soon lost customers due to high unemployment and, in short time; the business folded and my Grandparents were left as so many others were; with no source of dependable income and bills to pay; mouths to feed. And, just as so many others; they found themselves migrating westward; towards the hope of prosperity; the promise of a better life. So, at age 16, my mother, an “Okie,” was transplanted into a not so forgiving world. She often told me of the taunts and teasing she endured because of her accent and the poverty of her family and her very modest home. To her death, she still recalled, with a sad look in her eyes, those years spent in lonliness and solitude with very few friends. Even with this history and beginnings, moving to a nondescript dwelling was more in keeping with what was familiar to her. The upper crust’ lifestyle in which she dwelled while married to my father was never comfortable for her. My father thrived in such an environment, my mother withered.

Our new home fit her needs and comfort level just fine. Brother and I liked it too because our new friends were right next door, just down the street and around the corner. Late into the evenings, in this active and friendly place, we played under streetlights with the neighbor kids. It was great! GREAT! Here, we only had to walk out the door and skip next door to grab Tom or Karen for a fun night on the street! Tag! Hide and Seek, hop scotch, or roller skating on the even pavement and street surface; it was a child’s delight. Unlike my childhood home which was surrounded by field and stream and, different than my Grandmother’s house, where industry rumbled and cars sped by and, certainly, better than our Central Valley home, where everything was barren; numbingly plain; out new ‘digs’ were perfect! Mother got it just right! Not only that but, my first day at my new school wasn’t bad, at all. Thankfully, I’d had the summer months to get to know kids and make new and lasting friendships so, first day at school was a b-r-e-e-z-e! How great was that!!!


We lived happily in this home for 4 years. Then, as fate would have it, my mother met and married yet another suitor. And, it was up and moving, again. I remember standing in the driveway feeling lost and morose; feeling as if the rug were being pulled out from under my feet. I ran to my friend Susan’s house to tell her the news and see if I could live with her parents at her house…I really didn’t want to leave…again!!

Of course, that was not to be and, as scheduled, we packed and moved out into the country again. This time, the house was made of cinder blocks and was pretty much a big, boxy building. The good thing about our new home was that we lived on a dead end street that dead ended right on the banks of a swiftly running creek! A child’s delight! (though, my mother certainly did not think so). Exploration and experimentation was the order of the day, once we settled in. Brother and I snuck down to the creek’s edge and stood there wonderstruck at the swiftly running water, the loud roar of it’s movement and feeling our faces being buffeted by the gusts of wind generated by the rapidly coursing, undulating water. There were huge trees which swayed in the wind making a glorious wall of sound, large boulders in and around the water as it flowed on and a steep, walkway down to the water’s edge. This one was much better than our early childhood meandering seasonal stream. This constantly moving estuary had a life all it’s own. One which thrilled two young siblings who stood or sat on it’s brink, moved by nature and happenstance.


Stay tuned..I'm writing this in segments to make it a faster story....more to follow as this pretzel life continues....





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    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Ahoy there, Matey! A Captain he is!

      I am going to take your suggestion to heart....thinking..thinking...I'll come up with something or "score' will plummet!

      Also, I thoroughly enjoy reading your writing and that of others that much time is spent doing so...which is such a pleasure! Time management..that's the ticket! I must learn to budget my time wisely.

      Always very pleased that you've visited my site, Alastar.

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Kathy. You did have quite a childhood and of course that is part of what made you who you are, thank goodness. Why don't you try writing an article you've maybe thought about at some point but haven't done; or just do one on impulse, on anything that strikes your fancy. Yes, that's Captain Packer somewhere off the coast of Maine two years least he likes to think he was captain.

    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Good morning Alastar. As always, I am so pleased that you visited and enjoyed my efforts here. And, thank you for your nice comment; you are too kind...My Grandparents and parents prevailed in the face of adversity and economic woes...very strong stock, for sure! Mine was a crazy childhood..I just wish I could get over the current writers' block I'm experiencing! the

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Kathy, the 'Grapes of Wrath' made or unmade folk. As hard as it was for your maternal grandparents and mother, one can only look to them with admiration; and the fruit they bore bears witness to their mighty spirits. You have done their memory a great service. Writing these down so well for others to share in is a special gift and I can hardly find the words to tell you how much it is appreciated.

    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Thank you andrebreynolds! I'd be very pleased if you read the first two "chapters" of this little saga.

    • andrebreynolds profile image

      andrebreynolds 6 years ago

      Thanks for sharing.

    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      DIM..I am very complimented that you're still 'hooked.' Makes the writing so much sweeter! Thank you so much.

      JY..I could NEVER write as thoroughly and in such totality as you do..your articles are so packed with information and LKF's (in my meager experience..'little known facts." Thank you so much...a very happily accepted comment! HubPages sister !!! I am always happy to see your comments; you really write so beautifully and have such depth and sensitivity! I so value your imput. I remember having read about your grandmother in a comment or hub of yours is a shame that she was not allowed to live her dream to the very end..age is not a qualifier in doesn't have to be..Bless you & Thank you.

      AAZ...Your intellectual creativity inspires and, so, I am so glad you're enjoying this hub! yes, it is like the life of a military brat...I WAS a brat, to be sure..but did not, sadly, enjoy the influence of a military family member. Thank you for visiting and commenting...very valued!

      Always Exploring..I love that name! I love what it open and experiential attitude. your comments to Epigramman always intrigue me and I am so glad you're my Hubpages friend..I highly respect your opinion! Thank you! are an amazing advocate, an excellent writer and I am very very honored know that you like this little story! Means so much to me!! Thank you!

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image

      Sharon Smith 6 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Keep it coming Kathy! Very well written with intriguing descriptions. Great job . . .

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 6 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I will be back!!! Your story is full of wonder. I can relate to the Stepfathers. You are a gifted writer. Thank you.

    • A.A. Zavala profile image

      Augustine A Zavala 6 years ago from Texas

      Reminds me of the transitory lifestyle of a military dependent. Very interesting, thank you for sharing.

    • Amy Becherer profile image

      Amy Becherer 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      My mom had the same kind of disruptive childhood. Never settling long enough to feel like home, she is having a difficult time deciding to leave her long-time home, where my sis, brother and I grew up. With dad gone, it is too much for her, now in her 80's. Her mother had no fear. When grandpa died at 61 years old from melanoma, grandma boarded a bus and headed for Barstow, alone. She bought a little home and established her dream in a health food store. When she had a stroke at 90, my mom's two brothers insisted on putting her in a nursing home in DeSoto, MO. She hated it and begged to return to CA, but she ended up, miserable, never leaving her room for her 6 remaining years. She was so courageous and independent, yet in the end her two sons would not allow her the dignity she worked so hard to achieve. I am glad she took charge of her life when she could instead of sitting back and wondering...if only. Beautiful story, Kathy, that reminded me of the courage we all must muster to live life to the fullest. I await the continuation. No wonder you feel such attachment to your homes, yet live with so much wanderlust. I admire your courageous spirit.

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 6 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Lucky Cats,

      I totally appreciate the pace and the length of these glimpses into your world. I also love the way you weave your tale so seamlessly and always seem to draw the positive out of every road in your life's journey.

      Excellent~~ thank you! Voted UP, AWESOME & BEAUTIFUL!

    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      Great job Lucky. You are getting to be very descriptive...exactly what this type of story needs. Whatcha trying to do...get to be a better writer than me? LOL. I've enjoyed all of these installments.

    • Dim Flaxenwick profile image

      Dim Flaxenwick 6 years ago from Great Britain

      l´m still hooked. Love the way you write.