Tuesday, June 25, 2013

I imagine .....

For this part of my story, I have to use my imagination.  It didn't occur to me to ask my mother until it was too late, and my siblings don't remember, because they were too young at the time.
So here's my early story as I've written it for myself .....
Was my father on hand when I was born?  It's possible, but I don't think so.  Certainly he wasn't around too often, since his job would have kept him away from home much of the time.  My guess is that my mother brought me home alone, or accompanied by a friend.

When we walked in the door, she would have been greeted by two toddlers, demanding her full attention.  Was I, figuratively, set aside so she could deal with the twins?  You know, that "feels" right to me.  Not to say that she didn't take care of me, because I'm sure she did -- to the best of her ability -- but my heart tells me that most of her attention simply HAD to be directed towards the older children.
What I do know is that we were all sick.  A lot.  To this date, my sister and I have significant hearing losses and ear problems, all stemming from frequent ear infections that started when we were babies.
Under Lyndon Johnson's "Great Society" programs of the 1960's, welfare rolls expanded dramatically, providing aid for increasingly large numbers of families and children.
However, in the 1950's, Aid to Dependent Children (ADC a/k/a welfare) wasn't available for the families of married couples, only single parents (typically women).  In fact, when ADC was granted, it wasn't uncommon for case workers to check up on recipients.  If a man was found to be living in the home, aid would be immediately discontinued.  Even though my father's paycheck obviously didn't stretch as far as we needed (three babies!), since my parents were married, there would be no federal aid for us.
Perhaps my mother went back to work.  If so, she would have to have paid a sitter to watch three children, and surely that cost would have taken nearly her entire paycheck.  Still, whatever little was left over might have been just enough to keep us fed, or to pay the light bill. 
Remember when I mentioned that we moved a lot?  I imagine that we did so in order to keep one step ahead of the sheriff, who was following close behind and waving an eviction notice at our backs.
Life for our family was a constant struggle.