Childhood Snapshots

The assignment:

Part 1. create a drawing of your house and neighborhood from 4-6 years old.  Not an easy thing for me to do because I DO NOT DRAW but I tried anyway.

Part 2. Now write about it.

The drawing helped me to focus and think about my life as a youngster but the writing was the easiest.

I really can’t remember life when I was 4-8.   I don’t have a great memory for past people, places or things.  Don’t know why but I don’t.  It was easier for my to focus on life after that time.  Drawing the map allowed me to see snapshots of my life in my apartment building in Chicago’s Lake Meadows.

I was born on Thanksgiving Day in 1965 in Chicago’s Lake Meadows. It was a great childhood with good times and bad times.  I say that it was great because I know that I was loved and cared for and that to me is the most important thing to bring away from my childhood.

Snapshots from ??  8-11 ??

Performing at the tap and ballet recitals for Chicago Recreation and Parks.  OMG what fun it was to dress up and dance for my audience.  I guess that is when I realized my LOVE for the spotlight.

Ice skating until I got frostbite – guess I didn’t know if I was going to join the Olympic Ice Skating team or the Joffrey Ballet.  (but isn’t it great to know that the opportunities were there….)

Playing outside with my brother and leaving footprints in the untouched snow – we were the first ones outside. Whose idea was it go outside? Ours? My mother’s? I don’t remember and I really don’t care at this point.  My mom was a single parent during this time and she probably needed a break.

Cringing from the playground 14 stories below as my mom called us back inside for dinner.  Guess that is where I got my mouth from

Falling off the monkey bars and watching the ground rush up to meet me and then later sitting at my babysitter’s house looking up in disbelief at the hickey that I could see on my forehead.  It was huge and I could see it if I looked up at the sky.

Waiting for the Good Humor ice cream truck – strawberry shortcake or something else?  Hope I have enough money for both my brother and I to get something.  If not guess I will have to share.

Chasing reprobates from the Cabrini Green Projects who stole my brother’s skateboard after I told him TIME and TIME again to hold it close and be careful.  Boy, that child is dumb.

Getting beaten up by the O’Banion brothers after my brother started some foolish fight with them and then left me.  Boy, that child is scary.

My mom carrying my brother on her shoulders as she held my hand and walked us home through a blizzard.  (My Mom taught school so regardless of the weather reports,  if school was open, we went.)

Playing ‘house’ in the shrubs with Jonathon ?? and others.  We were the parents to a few kids.  This part gets a little blurry and foggy in my memory.  wink, wink, nudge, nudge

Seeing my brother fall from the giant slide and then quickly wrapping my arm around his shoulders as I led him home.  He cried a little as the blood gushed out of the gash in the back of his head.  I remember being amazed by the fact that he was not in any real pain but all the while knowing that my mom was going to freak when we got home.   Nodding to the neighbors in the elevator on the way up who kept looking and whispering about my brother’s gash.  They could tell that I was protecting him and trying to be sure that he stayed calm so they smiled at me when I held my finger to my lips as though the gash oozing blood down my jacket and his was a big secret. Opening the apartment door, yelling for my mom to come and telling her to stay calm as we came inside.  My jacket was covered in blood and my brother was starting to feel woozy from the blood loss.  Watching my mom faint, hearing my brother howl, watching my dad hold my brother down as the ER doctors stitched up his gash with no anesthesia.

Snapshots from 11-13

Running track for Chicago Park District.  I was tall, skinny and fast.  I won some medals and plaques.  Not that I have any of them as proof… years ago I got rid of them because they were from the baby Valerie era.  How dumb was that?

Falling through the glass door and cutting my butt and hoping that Monica or Maria or Michelle (I really can’t remember who was with me then) would not panic my mom as they went upstairs to get her.  A nice nurse stopped and helped by putting maxi pads on my wound.   Telling my mom to put me down as she carried me up the stairs to the car so that we could go to the hospital for me to get stitches in my butt.  Feeling warm and loved because my Mom didn’t put me down and raced up the stairs and down a hill carrying her daughter who was almost as big as she was.

Playing in the stairwell afterschool and then getting punished when my Mom got home – how do they know that you are acting up when they are at work?

Falling in the mud on the way to school.  I had on YELLOW.

Flirting with my ‘boyfriend’ across the park.  He lived in the apartment building across from ours and he would use binoculars to spy on me.

Feeling happy that I was not there when his twin accidentally shot and killed him while playing with their dad’s old revolver.  Feeling incredibly sad as I watched a twin deal with the guilt of killing his twin.

Knowing that my life was over when my Mom told me that we would be moving to New Orleans to live in the ‘country.’

Missing the concrete and steel and panicking because there was too much green surrounding me.

Not speaking to anyone for weeks (YES, me not talking) in protest of the move that was destined to destroy my life.

Snapshots from 13-14

Meeting my best friend, Chevel

Getting tired of the plebes continuously asking me to “say something” so that they could laugh at my accent.

Practicing in the mirror “’fo to go to da sto”

Having water balloons thrown at me because I was said to have too many pairs of shoes – Tossing my hair back and strutting home secure in the knowledge that I was right – I was a princess surrounded by peasants.  Wondering how I could have ever thought of changing me when obviously they were the ones who needed changing.

By VRBurton Posted in GNOWP

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