|In the Kitchen Photo from the collection of Midge Frazel|
While researching and writing about my neighborhood, I have learned how important it is to your future to have a loving family. As idyllic as life in the 1950s and 1960s seems in retrospect, it is essential to write that there were families that struggled living in "The Plat".
One early family on our street was especially troubled. Using the 1950 city directory, I have identified the family that was the parents of a little girl that I will call by her first name Carmella. I remember that she was fun to play with and that my parents gave her one of my coats and mittens. She had none. My dad fixed the chain on her bike. One day, the family moved out. In the "dead of night". I didn't understand why they moved.
There were rumors of unpaid bills and alcoholism. Just up the street from them, another couple took in a brother and sister as foster children. Another family didn't cut their grass in a timely fashion. Not everybody got along. I remember a huge shouting argument two adult brothers had. The wife cried and pleaded with them to stop. The police came. We were mesmerized by watching them out our kitchen window.
I was lucky to have loving grandparents and parents. My father did not have a loving father but his sister's husband was a great substitute. Dad was always vigilant to ward off neighborhood situations. Men stood in driveways and discussed troubles. Kids got in trouble for fighting and throwing snowballs and baseballs broke windows. Older people died.
The imperfection of a neighborhood makes it memorable. You tend to remember it by certain incidents. One of my dear childhood friends moved away and then she died suddenly of a brain tumor. My mother and I met her mother in the grocery store and all of us cried. The store manager ushered us out. She was an only child like me. I began to appreciate all that we had. Family and good neighbors are everything to the study of your past.