Friday, August 03, 2007

Dear Readers,

Bare with me as I iron out some wrinkles in these early drafts of "These Are the People ... "

"You know what that is, right?"

"What? This? Aunt Iris made it for me."

"No, not the sandwich, but what's inside?"

"It's salami, I think?"

"You ever see salami look like that?" he asked, lifting off the slice of bread from atop my

sandwich. "It's tongue!"

"What?!" I spewed out, food particles dripping from my mouth.

I was only six years old or so, my brother Ron seven, when my parents divorced. I have a few

remembrances of each of our two homes in Wilmette, Illinois, our blocks and a few of our

neighbors, one of whom included a 'mean old lady' at the end of the block. All the kids were

scared of her, but I do not think that anyone ever met her, a case of more rumor I guess than


My father was not at home much-at least I don't recall he was, but working hard as a young

dentist to build his practice from which to support his family. I realize this now for the first time.

As a matter of fact, I have no memories of my dad at home in those years, but I do when, after

my folks had divorced and we moved to St. Louis, he used to drive down three or four times per

year and spend the weekend with my brother and me. He would arrive Saturday morning, pick

us up at my mom's apartment, and off we drove usually to the Holiday Inn by the airport, just

the three of us.

We had three special activities that were pretty much constants when we three were together:

We wrestled in the hotel room making quite the mess; on Saturday night, weather permitting,

we'd frequent the drive-in movies and feast on very sour pickles in brine, popcorn and soda pop.

Our third regular activity was bowling! The bowling alley was a huge one that included a fair

number of pocket billiard tables as well. My dad kept us pretty busy. We had quite a lot to

accomplish in less than two days. He would even give my brother and me driving lessons in the

parking lot of the bowling alley on Sunday morning before it opened for the day.

Something about Sundays really colored my mood. Unlike carefree Saturdays,

Sunday was the day when Dad would be going home. I remember dreading the return back to

my mom's house-not that it had anything to do with Mom-it was simply that I did not want him

to leave. I never did find out what it was that had come between them, but it is unlikely they

could have grown apart because they had not been married that long.

"Come over here boys for a few seconds," my mom said. We stopped what we were doing and

came to sit by mom. "We're moving to St. Louis to live with Grandma.

"Hey! I'll tell Dad!"

"No. Daddy is not coming with us."

"Oh ... why not?"

"Well ... " my mother explained something but I do not have the faintist recollection.

I have said it before that we have moments in our lives the recollection of which defies

forgetfulness. I do not remember why it was that my mom was so angry with me, but indeed

she was one day. For reasons unknown, I think it was something about which she had not

thought very carefully in deciding to punish me by refusing to acknowledge as anyone

she knew.

"Mom ..." I said, walking into the kitchen.

"What? Who are you?" she asked, pouring herself some coffee but not feeling too threatened

by a child, even one she did not "know."

"Mom?" I recall repeating myself, tears beginning to stream down my face, and it went on like

this for a day or so. I recall it vividly to this day. Mind you, my mother is a wonderful woman

and I love her dearly, but on this point i think she was a bit misguided. I cried a lot, upsetting as

it was for my mom to tell me to my face that she did not know me. I was utterly confused by

what she was doing. After all ...

"I could and did recognize her! Why all of a sudden was I was a stranger to her?" Well, as the

expression has it, it left a bruise, actually a permanent injury. No, my mom did not hit me or has

she ever, but from that day I trace the origins of my speech impediment. I started to


As a kid I found myself in the most embarrassing when in countless instances whether in

school or out my speech failed me. Stutterers have it rough for not only does it happen they

suffer the indignity of involuntarily sputtering out a syllable for varying lengths of time, but in

their frantic efforts to enunciate the word they wildly contort their faces. Other kids think it

rather amusing. It isn't!

I was for a while in speech therapy as a young boy. For how long, I really do not know. There

have been stretches of time when I was stutter-free, but would recur only on occasion. When it

did, look out! It was always one of the really bad instances when, after it was all over, I felt like

crawling into a hole and never coming out again.


Dag said...

Thank you, that was very nicely written. :)

Alan aka Avrum ben Avrum said...

You are welcome. Be safe!