My father got out of the Navy in October 1957, so he was home for my third year and our little family of three began living together for the first time since I’d been born. We lived on Clifton Boulevard in Cleveland, Ohio, not too far from where Nana and Buck lived. There had actually been a short time just before I turned two that we were all together in Mystic, Connecticut when my father was finishing his time in the Navy. Although I do not remember it, my mother tells me that we lived in an apartment near a drawbridge. Apparently I was a light sleeper even then because my mother remembers that the clanging bells and flashing lights of the drawbridge woke me up. It wasn’t long before my mother and I returned to Cleveland.
For Thanksgiving 1957, my father’s parents and his brother Deane stayed with us for the long weekend. I LOVE JBK’s description of me at two. Apparently the perfect child had a few characteristics that weren’t so adorable.
“Kathy was waiting up for us, and it didn’t take her long to get on good terms, especially with her uncle Deane. She quickly sized Deane up as an easy mark, and he was kept busy reading, telling stories, playing games, etc. “She has some habits which her conservative grandparents think are deplorable, such as staying up until 11 pm and eating bologna sandwiches and olives just before dropping off in sheer exhaustion, but she is healthy and has a sweet disposition and her parents adore her, as does her Grandmother Latham.” The Latham’s came over for Thanksgiving dinner, most of which CheChee [JBK’s name for my mother] prepared herself, and it was very good.”
According to my mother, it was the olive loaf bologna (do they still make that stuff?!?) with olives imbedded in the bologna and then sliced. Apparently I would eat the red pimento from the center of the olive and then eat the rest of the sandwich. I haven’t had a bologna sandwich in years but I have to admit that if such a product still exists I would definitely try it. I’ve been told that I also loved canned asparagus (yuck – too mushy) and my mother is going to get back to me on the one thing she remembers that I didn’t like (apparently I wasn’t a picky eater.)
My father and mother were both working full time in research labs at Case Western Reserve University. I spent my days with Nana and a variety of pets. The first pets that I remember were my kangaroos. I don’t remember their names, but they lived on the top of a refrigerator in the basement. I think most people would have considered them to be hamsters – but for whatever reason I thought they were kangaroos. My mother just confirmed, what I vaguely remember: my kangaroos met their demise when my very inquisitive cats, Ruff and Ready, opened their cage, using their dew claws. Apparently Ruff and Ready were born to a pedigreed mother with long hair but she had “gotten out” and had a fun night with a tom cat resulting in the sort of kittens that had to be given away. I guess you could say my love affair with shelter animals began at an early age.
I wish I had a picture of Ruff and Ready – they were black with white bibs if I remember correctly. This is one of those memories where I’m not sure if I actually remember what they looked like or I’ve just seen pictures of them or have heard descriptions of them.
Here is a picture of my very first pet – No Bite – of which I have absolutely NO recollection. Apparently Nana and Buck got him for me when I was a toddler and he got his name because that is what I called him when he chased me around the house nipping at my heels. Despite the happy picture perhaps there was some unpleasantness involved in our interaction including memories I have long since suppressed. NO Bite – who has a pet named NO bite???
Nana also had a parakeet named “Chico.” He pretty much had free range of the house and would perch on Nana’s shoulder when she went outside to hang up her clothes. She tried to teach him to respond to her question – “What kind of bird is Chico” by saying – “Chico is a pretty bird” or “Chico is a parakeet” but apparently Buck sabotaged Chico’s language lessons and taught him to say – “Chico is a sh*t bird” and he said that loud and clear – nine times out of ten.
Here is something I don’t remember but it doesn’t surprise me. I liked to jump in puddles! I suppose my love affair with water began early on – puddles, mountain streams, ocean waves, bubble baths – even dishwater – I like water.
I will end my third year with the recollection from JBK’s family letter account of our second visit to Bloomington, IN in early October 1958 – just before I turned 3.
“Kathy is a beautifully behaved little girl, healthy, pretty and smart. She talks like a college student sometimes, and enjoys conversations with adults. The weather was perfect and we had a wonderful day on the golf course. Bry, Ceil, Deane and I started and after nine holes Deane drove home and brought Kathy and her grandmother. Kitty watched us from the car and Kathy followed the players for a few holes. The picture of her racing over the fairways in her white dress with her yellow hair flying out is one I will remember for a long time. Ceil, of course, outdrove and outplayed all of us and it was fun playing with her. She is studying Russian, and she and Deane compared textbooks and tried their Russian on each other. Bry is taking some academic subjects to complete his pre-med requirements and hopes to get into medical school next fall.”
My father never went to medical school and no matter how much I’d like to believe JBK’s account, I have a hard time believing that I “talked like a college student” when I was barely three year old. Perhaps, he is commenting on a trait that I observed in my own children – they thought about things and you could tell that their little brains were processing so much more information than their vocabulary could convey.
Contemplative, Fearless and for year three: Aquaphile