Friday, February 22, 2008

The Story: Chapter Two, Part Three

Chapter Two: Part Three

Exiled from New Richmond, the family headed back for St. Paul. Our first place of lodging was The Lake and Pines, a motel located in an area that was not even a first tier suburb of the city at the time, although today it is part of the city of St. Paul. Actually, it was a classy motel for the period; I think it eventually became a Holiday Inn. I know, it was by no means the Ritz, but at least it wasn’t a fleabag motel.

In fact, the owners hired my parents as managers, allowing us to have a small apartment there. I remember very little about the accommodations, although I have vivid memories of one Christmas there when I received a realistic looking choo-choo- train, as I called it, but it was rubberized and the wheels didn’t move. I recall being very happy with the train yet disappointed it did not have moving parts or a track. I believe I was still young enough to ask about that without being misunderstood as a total ingrate. I distinctly recall thinking, “No wheels… doesn’t move… looks like choo-choo… not real choo-choo.” (I was a smart kid, huh.)

I also have memories of lying in my crib crying and my parents yelling at me to “shut the hell up” and saying things like – “Keep it up! Keep crying – and you’re never getting up again!” I wonder if most parents just let kids cry themselves to sleep from time to time like that. When my younger brother Tim was born, eleven years after me, many times he was treated the same way when he refused to go to sleep or had an earache. It wasn’t uncommon for Betty or Kenny to slap him until he stopped crying, or yelled so loudly, he would be too scared to continue crying. Therefore, I’m fairly certain I received the same type of treatment. Betty and Kenny could be rather impatient parents, but at least none of us died from shaken baby syndrome.

I never asked why we left the motel, although my mother retained an office position there, taking the city bus to and from the ‘country’ to keep her job. I remember my mom wore make-up and perfume, and dressed up for her job. I was taken along everyday and dropped off at day-care in a garden-center/nursery, called Seifert’s, across the road from the motel. I loved it there, and looked forward to taking the bus every morning with mom. I remember the bus driver being very nice to both of us, and often giving me treats. Because of the experience, I had decided I wanted to be a bus driver when I grew up. The driver liked that, and sometimes, after we left the city limits, he’d let me sit on his lap while he drove. At that early stage of my development, the bus driver had become an important person for me. By his kind, friendly demeanor, he left the memorable impression he liked both my mother and me. Each morning he seemed happy to see us and was always kind. As an adult, his example stands out for me as to why it is so crucial we show kindness to strangers, especially children, since many may not experience it at home.

While my mom continued to work at the motel, my dad found a job as a laborer at Lampland Lumber, a lumber yard on the outskirts of downtown St. Paul. We also moved into a huge, wooden, Victorian apartment building at 252 Bates Ave. in St. Paul, I recall the address being repeated to me so that I would never forget it – just in case “someone kidnaps you.” To this day I can remember the telephone number as well, Prospect 1- 5256. Without doubt, it was a very creepy building, I never heard anyone describe it as anything better than a tenement slum.
While we lived on Bates, I arrived at the age of reason, as well as the realization our family life was anything but happy.

End of Chapter Two


  1. What stands out for me in this post is the favorable impact the bus driver had on you as a child, and the lesson you learned from it. I, too, think of the kindness bestowed upon me my strangers when I was a child. The trick, Terry, is to remember these things so we can be that way to others.

  2. ..."his example stands out for me as to why it is so crucial we show kindness to strangers, especially children, since many may not experience it at home."

    Wow, I'm taking that one to work with me. Some of our patients need this so badly.

  3. How much of the way you are do you attribute to your upbringing?

    Do you think you'd be a "different person" (for lack of a better term) if you'd had more of an Ozzie & Harriet upbringing? Not that O&H were necessarily the actual norm - I believe they were most likely more of an idealized version of what family life was like. The way things ought to be and the way things actually are are usually two very different things.

  4. It sounds like the people at day-care must have been nice, too, because you liked going there. We kind of look upon having pre-schoolers in day-care as a less than ideal situation. But sometimes it's unavoidable, and for some kids is maybe an island of stability in their lives.

  5. Melody - Yes - day-care was very nice - I knew my mom wass across the road, and it was a garden center and I think the lady used to pretend I was helping her - it was indeed and island of stability.

    Rhaps - good question - it is what I hope to answer by writing this. Although - right off the bat I wouldn't change a thing about how I was raised - talk about a challenge. If I came from an Ozzie and Harriet household, I doubt I would be seeking God.

  6. Jeannette9:07 PM

    "If I came from an Ozzie and Harriet household, I doubt I would be seeking God."

    Good point, Terry, I didn't really seek God until I hit rock-bottom and realized He was the only one Who could help me.


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