Saturday, January 5, 2013
A Practical Question
Our parents were divorced in January, 1947. Mother told me that Dad liked to give a holiday party each year. He asked her to help him give one last party during the Christmas season of 1946 and she agreed. After the party, she and my four-year-old sister, Barbara, were to leave for Coral Gables, FL. I was to stay behind to finish first grade and join them when school was out. At least, that was the plan, but it never worked out that way. Not the joining-them-in-Florida part.
I don't remember any tears or trauma. I was already used to living for long stretches of time with my paternal grandparents. Anyway, I was more than a little afraid of Mother. She had a wicked temper. I was angry with her, too. One day, I found her crossword puzzle on the child-sized table in the kitchen where I ate breakfast. That table was often the scene of a power struggle. Mother would make me sit there until I finished my cereal. Grandmother (Mother's mother) said, "I'd drop in at 11 in the morning, and there you'd be, still sitting." Grandmother thought it was funny, but all I remember is the bowl of soggy cereal. Perhaps that's why I took a pencil that day and scribbled the puzzle black. Mother was furious. She spanked me. This is how parents handled insubordination in the forties.
My sister and I seemed to accept the divorce calmly. Barbara did not know about the potential new stepfather waiting in Florida. Her one question, before she and Mother left Meadville, was: "But who will cut my meat?"