I guess the story would be more interesting if you had an idea of who I was and where I came from. Northwest Indiana was a great place to be a kid. We experienced leaves turning from green to beautiful fall colors, flowers blooming in the spring, snow to play in during the winter and summers in safe neighborhoods. When it was warm and sunny, 4 whole months of the year, we were outside all day long riding bikes, swimming in pools, playing sports and building forts, bonfires and trails in the woods.
Growing up, like many of my friends in the 70’s, I had 2 homes. My parents split when I was 3, which I don’t really recall, just always seemed normal to spend the weekends with Dad and his new family and the week with Mom. Dad had a good city job, Monday through Friday’s typically but Mom’s schedule was a bit all over. She waited tables and tended bar at night in a local Mexican restaurant, often not getting home until 1 and 2 in the morning. I used to wait up, watching TV show’s like ‘The Honeymooners’, ‘All in the Family’ and ‘Sanford and Son’ to stay awake. As soon as I heard her pull up, I would run downstairs to greet her and be the first to see what kind of Mexican food she would bring home from the restaurant, it was always so delicious.
Often, I would go with her to work, helping out in the kitchen, taking orders, serving food, clearing tables and washing dishes. I loved going to work with Mom, even at 10 years old, hospitality was natural to me. It also gave me a better appreciation of how hard her job was. Dad had a big yard with plenty of tree’s and grass to take care of. In the summer, the leaves and twigs never stopped falling. We would spend hours raking and bagging them up only to turn around and have to start all over again. In the winter, it seemed we were always shoveling snow and I hated it all! But I owe both of my folks a big Thank You, because if they had just let us watch TV and play Atari, my work ethic would not be as strong as it is today!
Like most siblings, we would fight, a lot! Mom would leave for work as soon as we came home from school. To us, this was awesome!!! That meant we could do whatever we wanted until she got home….and we did. (homework was not one of them) There were 3 of us, me being the youngest, I seemed to always be left alone. My older brother and sister were supposed to keep an eye on me, but they were teenagers and had better options.
That was OK with me because there were lot’s of kids in the neighborhood, mostly boys and a few girls. Between fighting with my siblings, hanging with my Marine Vietnam Veteran Dad and being one of the ‘guys’, in the hood, I became pretty tough. And back then, instead of cell phones and computers, we had pellet guns and small motor bikes. We used to shoot each other with the guns and set up obstacle courses with the motor bikes, life was good!