For the first eight years of my life, our family lived in the College Park Apartments complex in Elyria, Ohio. Life at that time can be split into two eras; the Happy Times when my father and mother were still married and we lived in apartment C-3, and the Sad Times after the divorce and my mother’s remarriage, when we moved to the larger D-1.
C-3 meant my treasured talking Cat In The Hat doll, visits from Grandma Carr, the birth of my baby sister.
D-1 meant seeing Dad only on the weekends at his new trailer, lots of babysitters and visits from “The Mechanic”.
“The Mechanic” was what my mother called the new man who began hanging around our apartment after Dad left. He was forever “working on her car,” introducing me to the concepts of both euphemism and metaphor. Soon, the façade of “The Mechanic” was dropped and my new stepfather and his four daughters moved in with my three brothers and sisters and our mother into D-1, our tiny, three-bedroom apartment behind the Abbe Road Baptist Church.
My mother should have just taken the door of apartment D-1 off the hinges – hardly any of us stayed home, and that included the youngest kids. I think back with amazement how we were allowed to run wild across the neighborhood back then. Times were different, I suppose…we would spend summer outside the entire day, only returning home when the streets lights came on, which was the rule. We were never asked where we were, what we did. It was assumed as long as we stayed out of the roads and didn’t break anything, everything was fine. I remember walking thru acres and acres of forest, spending the days playing inside abandoned automobiles surrounded by overgrown brush, jumping from the rafters in an old barn into what we hoped were simply piles of hay below. I’m surprised I didn’t have more broken bones or stitches than I did.
Anything beat spending days inside D-1.