Little did I know that my summer trips with the Grandparents were going to come to a screeching halt. Everything that I had come to know was going to suddenly change. What had been safe and consistent, was now going to be a thing of the past.
When I was around 5 my Dad was having a real rough time of it. His answer was to move to Seattle. Mom and I were on our own for a little while. Dad got on his motorcycle and headed west on I-90. He stayed with some friends and looked for a job. Next he looked for a place for us to live. He found a house to rent on S. 200th in Seattle. Actually, it was a hop, skip and a jump to Des Moines and the marina. Once he lined up the job and the house, he went back to Spokane to move Mom and me over to the coast. I don't think I really understood the concept of Dad not being around, and him working far away. Had I known what it meant, it would have been even harder than it already proved to be once I DID find out that we were going to have to move far away. Now, technically it really isn't THAT far from Spokane, but to a kid of 5 years old, it may as well have been on another planet.
My grandma T had been a constant in my life. She was always around, and during my most formative years, she took care of me while Mom and Dad worked. She taught me to read. She made sure that I had a lot of those Dr. Suess books and any other that caught my eye.
She had a way of doing things in such a way that half the time you didn't even realize that she was actually teaching you something. Quite frankly it was wonderful to learn that way. No pressure, no yelling and screaming.
In the evenings when she would start to prepare dinner, she would say to me, "Lynnie, go out on the porch and get the paper and read it to me while I cook dinner." I would run down the little hall to the front porch and get the paper. I would then crawl up to sit on a stool that she had near one of the kitchen counters, and open the paper. Naturally, like any kid, I would look for the easiest stories first, or if a picture looked interesting to me, then I would read what that was all about and show Gram the picture. She was incredible patient as I stumbled over some of the big words. She would sometimes explain to me what I was reading. Learning politics and world suffering at such an early age!
She was my constant companion and when it dawned on me that Grandma wasn't coming with us, I was devastated. I remember crying and crying and crying. I didn't want to go, oh, I SO didn't want to go. I suddenly felt very unsafe for some reason.
We left our nice big house on Adams, Dad, me and my cat (that Dad hated), Boots in Dad's truck, Mom driving Dad's Studebaker that he had had even before he met Mom, and my Auntie Lois and Uncle Larry (Mom's brother and his wife) driving their big old car. Everything was packed as full as they could get it, yet we still left a lot of things behind. Dad's idea... if it doesn't fit, leave it.
Off we went, the caravan... in the middle of the night. (another favorite of my Dad's- to move in the dark of night.) Boots wasn't too happy about this traveling thing and he was driving Dad nuts, but he eventually settled down, thank God. As much as Dad hated that cat I was afraid he would just get fed up and leave him on the side of the highway.
Years later when Mom and I would be talking about this move, she would remark about what the gas station attendants must have thought when the bunch of us pulled in. Yeah, you read that right... gas station attendants. Sounds really archaic, doesn't it?
You would pull into a gas station similar to the one pictured above and as you pulled up to the pumps there was this small rubber hose that was strung back into the garage. When a car ran over this hose, there would be a "ding" sound inside the garage, announcing that a customer had just pulled in. A guy would come running out, ask what you needed and pump your gas. He would also wash your windshield and check your hoses, belts and fluids. Back then they were called SERVICE stations....because, well, you actually got something called SERVICE.
Anyway, here we are.... first Dad and me in his truck..."ding"... then comes Mom..."ding" (I have no idea how she could see, Dad had that car packed to the roof. She barely had room to operate the car.) Then last but not least Uncle Larry and Auntie Lois... "ding". It must have been quite a sight. At one point during our journey to the west side of the mountains, Dad had taken a side trip. I have no idea where we were, but he said that he was going to stop and get us something to eat. He pulled up in front of a tavern. I sat in the truck, just me and Boots for quite some time. Finally he came back. He handed me a bunch of chips, candy bars and assorted other junk foods. He also had a beer. He seemed a bit more relaxed and was joking around and stuff.
Our new house was up a steep dirt driveway and in a horseshoe pattern around the back and sides of the house were woods. In the dark, I couldn't see any other houses. That came as quite a shock to me. No houses around? It all felt so strange. Maybe it was just because I was tired.