More from the Autobiography.....
I lived in that house at 1805 Belle Terrace in Bakersfield California until I was 11 years old. Lots of things happened there. I ate orange sections with my Grandmother at night while we watched Gunsmoke. The police came one night when my Mother and Aunt were fighting and Moma threw a glass of Buttermilk and it got all over the police. I found all kinds of bugs and watched them up close. I had a Manx Cat named Bobbi who responded to you calling it like it was a dog. At one point I had two bantam chickens named Bonnie and Clyde. I saw my Aunt come in the house from a fight bloody. I got whippings with whatever my Grandma could grab at the time. I helped Grandma can vegetables and make chow chow. I went to Castro Lane Elementary School until I got tested and was placed in the “gifted” class in another school.
That house was spotlessly clean as my Grandmother was. We went to church on Sunday morning, Sunday nights and sometimes during the week. Just my Grandma Clara and me. I remember listening to Grandma cry out to God from behind her closed bedroom door, praying for her family that was unsaved or living else where. My Grandmother was strict, firm and hard workingwoman. There was little compromise in her, but she gave me a foundation as a child that I would return to as an adult, and I appreciate the way she raised me even though I NEVER showed it, nor probably never told her.
My mother lived in Grandma’s house from time to time. Occasionally she would live with a man elsewhere and that was fine. Mother was a waitress, she was pretty and men liked her. She didn’t always like herself though. Moma was addicted to pills and was an alcoholic, but her spells of bad and good would fluctuate. She had tried to commit suicide several times, she suffered from depression and seemed to get her greatest feelings of self worth when men were attracted to her, so naturally her break ups were always her worst time. I loved my Mother. She seemed so much more free and fun loving that my Grandmother to a youngster. She worked “graveyard” shift at the restaurant she worked at. She would be up drinking coffee and counting her tips in the morning when I woke up during the times she lived with Grandma, and I would help her stack the money for her to roll in paper rolls.
She gave me all her pennies and I started a bank account. I felt very grown up about that (smile). You know the funny thing is I had my account with Bank of America and that is the bank I use now 3,000 miles from my California upbringing.
When I got close to a hundred dollars, I went looking for a home for my mother and me. I found a small bungalow behind a big house that they wanted $75 a month for in the year 1971. It was perfect and I went to see it by self and let the landlady know I would take it. Right after I got my Grandma to give me my Penny Money.
They allowed me to rent the little place for us and my mother and I were back on our own. I guess she started getting welfare then, but I am really not sure. I do remember the commodities. The canned meat, hard peanut butter and big blocks of cheese. I know her drug addiction and alcoholism progressed rapidly during that time, and I remember sitting up one night with her while she either had DTs or just plain hallucinations from drugs. Poor Moma. Some folks are just not meant to raise children and she was just one of them.
I know she was seeing men, but I don’t remember them at all. I do remember walking into the bathroom one time seeing all the blood and a clothes hanger where she had given herself an abortion. Someone ended up burglarizing that little bungalow and stealing our little black and white TV and a roast we had in the freezer. I believe everyone assumed it was a man that mother had had a relationship with that had done it. We had to move after that, and we were able to rent a small house that sat on the alleyway at 2129 Verde St. I still dream of that house, although I know what in more recent years the house and property was purchased and a new house was built on the property more towards the street while the owner lived in the little house, and eventually the little house was torn down.