I didn't know I was different, yet my life was very different from the other children. You see, I lived in a tent ! Yes, a big canvas tent was my home !
Our tent was put up at a crossroads area outside a small town. We were on the corner by an old abandoned barn. Behind the barn was a big strawberry patch. We would go pick the berries, and, to this day, I remember how sweet they tasted.
We had to haul our water from an outside faucet at the small country service station across the road. Daddy put up a clothes line , and we washed clothes using an old wash board and big metal tubs. These tubs also served as our bathtubs.
Occasionally, Daddy was able to run a wire for us to get electricity for a light, but most of the time we used a lantern. I remember the lantern had two wicks and gave out enough light. In the winter we had a kerosene heater. It must have been cold in the tent , but I don't remember ever being really cold.
We spent Christmas that year in the tent. I woke up before anyone else and looked under the tree to find a beautiful doll. She had on a pretty pink dress and a white bonnet. I knew she had to be mine because she was sitting in my red rocking chair.
Many other memories come to mind --meals around the table and after supper, Daddy picking on his old Mandolin trying to teach us little songs. Life was so simple in those days, and we were content.
Our way of life continued until I was in the fifth grade. Daddy was in a terrible car accident and was thrown through the windshield. His back was broken. He received many cuts and some broken ribs that punctured a lung. He had to have a steel plate put in his head. He was very fortunate to be alive but was unable to work for a few years.
We had to relocate to be near my mother's relatives. My grandmother helped take care of us for awhile.
Soon we rented a shabby four-room frame house. There were about ten of these little houses located in one area. They were all owned by the same man. I think they were built from scrap or tear down lumber. The house was basically a shell; the outside walls were exposed on the inside. We would find large cardboard boxes, break them down flat, and nail them to the inside walls to help block the wind. When it rained, several empty coffee cans were used to catch the water from the leaking roof.
We did have electricity, but the only water came from a faucet on the back porch. We would go out there to brush our teeth and wash up. We had to bring water inside to cook and to heat for a bath in a big metal tub. Someone did give us an old wringer-type washing machine, and we were so greatful.
Eventually, Daddy returned to work but not at the construction work he loved. We rented an old boarding house in town and lived there for several years.
It was a new way of life for me ! I had a place to call home. For the first time, I could make friends and not have to leave them. I could go to school with people I knew. I was not always the new kid in class. It felt really good at last to have a place to call home !