3- Santa Fe Trail Continued

During the cold months the teacher would let me in the school but sometimes this was impossible for her to do though she felt obligated to my Mother somehow but she could get into trouble. Sometimes I’d just wait but at recess time they would make us play outside anyway running around the playground. I saw Valerie a time or two as her class was outside too. She looked like an old woman in her kerchief on her fuzzy haired semi bald head.She would be attending Sparta High School soon. I was in the 3rd grade.On weekends when the weather permitted I remember going to English town Auction with Mom and Millie . I remember finding an old singer wrought iron sewing matching thrown on  the ground there. This place was awesome. It had a natural food store with barrels of oats and barley and honey , fruits and all . It smelled nice and we would bring some items home . My 7th birthday was fun I remember the table in the living room with M&M candies caked soda and cookies on it. I really don’t remember a Happy Birthday song at least from anyone , but it was a nice party .I cannot remember anyone who attended. Seems it was Pam , the family and that was about it. That Christmas my Father bought a new car. A white Chevy Malibu with a black canvas top. It was parked outside and with a big red bow upon it . Dad woke Mom up and had her look out the window. She was really happy! She was driving an older Chevy from around the 1960’s the large old blue car was what she drove and everyone called her the cowboy of Hopatcong. This would be the car they my parents would go to work in and to the city to visit family in. A second car was bought later from my brothers friends Mother Buster .It was a light blue Rambler so that locally my Mother would have a car to drive when my Father was at work in the city by himself.

One summer , when little Jimmy was about  3 he hopped in the Rambler, pushed  on the emergency brake release and went rolling backwards . Kathy ran from the top of the lawn down 20 stairs and was holding her hands out as to physically make the car stop rolling. It backed up into Frank and Jeans fence of their house. I have no idea who paid for that repair. That was really funny watching Jimmy take his first drivers lesson. In my room I had a puzzle on the wall of Barnabas Collins from Dark Shadows which was one of my favorite dark shows on tv and in my bubble gum , were cards to collect until the entire puzzle was made when it was I taped it up on my wall and Jimmy ran into my room looked up at the picture of a man leaning on a cane showing his fangs and he ran out of the room . The puzzle finally had to come down off the wall.I  made a new friend through Pammy, Gloria’s daughter. Gloria was Kathy’s sister-in-law , married to Hank Atno, she a bus driver, he a truck driver. I thought they made a very nice couple. But there was unhappiness according to Kathy , they agreed to divorce once Pam was finished with high school. Hank would give 100 dollars just for clothes for his daughter. That bought alot back in the 60’s. I stayed over with Pam at her house once . It was then that I discovered that I was allergic to cats. Her cat gave me itchy irritated eyes.

We had still had our dog Lucky he was growing old now . Mom would wake up and Lucky would be sleeping on the wedge part of the burnt orange sectional , hear my mothers slippers against the hard wood floors and make a dive for under the sofa . She would yell at Lucky and he would get a spank on the fanny with rolled up paper.I never saw my Mother give Lucky affection when the dog would approach her a slight touch on the head and it would be ” ok go lay down” and the dog would do as told. Lucky had a personality that everyone loved. When it was his time to go pot , someone would let him outside, where he would go , and also visit neighbors . Everyone knew that the sound of the scratch on the metal part of the door was Lucky visiting and begging for scraps. Then the phone would ring, and someone , whoever fed him would call the house to let someone know that Lucky was just sent home after a snack. My father would feed Lucky from the table after dinner as well . With a fork! This drove my Mother up the wall. One day in the early spring Lucky was let out. Two days went by and the dog never returned home. Everyone was worried where Lucky was. Soon my brothers friend Stevie Sanchez came over to tell my Mother that he found Lucky dead at the land fill where the trash was taken after the garbage trucks picked it up . Stevie worked for them. It was the very first time I saw my Mother sit on the sofa where Lucky used to sleep and she cried. She said I loved that dog. And everyone was quiet.  Lucky was a gift to my family by my Mothers cousin in Queens. Cousin Mary and Jim.The dogs breed was a pickypoo. Half Pickanese and half poodle but to me, it looked like half Pomeranian and half collie. The tail was exactly like a Pom and the hair and snout resembled a mini collie or a sheltee.

We had lived at this home now , for 4 years . The activities were rare, and the most family outings were on Saturday morning when my Mother would go to the store , or with her best friend Millie to English town .And although there was one trip to now and then to New York, it seemed that my parents were working often and playing less. Soon my Mother stopped working with my Father in Brooklyn, and she had begun working with a greek couple who had a small company making handbags . And Mary Jane may have worked there too. She remained distant. Paula and her husband Mike had a crisis and the two would be coming to New Jersey to stay for a while. They arrived at night with everything packed up and pigeon coops affixed to the hood of their car. They arrived with a baby boy. Mark. No word was ever shared about Paula being pregnant. But the story was told , by her, that she miscarried ,and adopted. There was never any word or information referencing burial , viewing, death certificate or otherwise. After a few months of staying with us , she and her new family left to settle in Illinois. We never heard from her and when we did, a photo of another baby was sent in  the mail to my parents of her son Michael. 10 lbs 8 oz  and my parents drove to IL quite rapidly to meet the new grandson.

There were a few other trips made . I was no ton this one with them. Valerie and I were to stay home in N.J. and we were left a few roles of pennies to buy snacks with . No one was home to cook for us all the time, I do not know where Kathy was, so we were to fend for ourselves. We listened to the radio, called the radio stations and asked to speak to Paul McCartney and I am sure the phone bill was high.  I vaguely remember my Father yelling about who was using the phone.  More followup on Mary Jane was in store for the summer, with her not staying in touch , or visiting, a visit to see her at her in-laws was planned. When we arrived, I remember seeing this large old woman sitting on a chair , with an old black dress on , something out of the early 1900’s and a group of very large keys hanging from her waist. Never have I seen keys so large . apparently they belonged to the barn where the chickens were. Being a city family , this was very new to us .Mary Jane had two of three children that were born , one died. He was a boy , his name was Steven, I remember my Mother saying that the baby could not come home from the hospital because its cranium was never fully developed and if the slightest tuff of a blanket were to touch his head, that he would die. The baby died, and Mary Janes husband had her stay at home while he prepared a viewing and burial. I heard that all he chose for the baby was a blanket to wrap it in . Mary Jane had a friend , her name was Natalie. Neither she or My Mother got along.

When mid summer arrived, we attended Bertram Island a local carnival  . My Mothers best closest friend Angie Lisi, we all called her Aunt Angie, visited and went with us to the carnival There was a psychedelic dance room set up with strobe lights and loud music. She took me in , and we danced. Aunt Angie looked funny  and after not too long I did not like the flashing lights and lack of ability to see clearly. But it was a fun visit and we laughed. The freak show, with the 4 babies connected and a news article stood high on exhibit with the story of the babies birth and picture of the Mother. This was scary to me. My favorite rides were the ferris wheel and the merry-go-round. The games to win tall oddly shaped soda bottles, and a goldfish were  always tried and frequently won. Tupperware parties were next , Kathy held one to help Gloria who was now selling this product. It was fun to watch the games played. Women were to be blindfolded, and given a spoon . The object of the game was to spoon all the cotton balls into a Tupperware container to win that item.These items proved to be the hottest item for food preservation in the 60’s. They still rock today in the millenium.

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