Nov 19, 2007

Family Life

Our family life, as far back as I can remember, was in a chronic open-house condition. There was always «somebody else» there. There were only five biologically related people belonging to our household: Mom and Dad, my two elder siblings Gail and Neil, and me. Yet I can hardly remember it having only been the five of us except on vacation trips. From the time we got home from school until bedtime (or much much later), at least one of the five had friends over.

It took me a while to realize that this was not a normal situation. With all these friends at our house, some families must have had the reverse - a chronic personnel deficit - as it were. I don't actually know why this was the case, because many of my friends who were always at our place had very nice parents who were always glad to see the gang roll in. I think people always found our family as low-threshold-high-inclusion - when you you came, you were always welcome and while you were there you became part of the family, not just a visitor.

Especially in the summertime, the house was literally crawling with people. We must have had a dozen chairs, a swing and a hammock on the porch, but it was usually difficult to find a place to sit.

During my grade school years my «gang» numbered about 6 0r 7 regulars: there were the Brown twins, Ross and Jerry up 37th St., there was little Davy Harrison on 35th St. , and Greg van Gilder from 31st St., Brent Kernahan from 33rd St., and Steven Ackley from up Cottage Grove a bit. All of these were in the same class at the same school and lived within a stone's throw from one another. But in addition to the regulars, I had other friends Like David Lieberman, Don Olmstead, Fred Aldrich, Chuck Talcott and Paul Clark that weren't in my class, but who I knew through scouts or other activities.

My two year older brother had a similar gang of a similar size, and I guess so did my sister, who was four years older, although I honestly can't remember their names. When you're five or six, a two or four year age difference is pretty big.

And Mom and Dad had lots of friends, too: Professors, Artists, Musicians, Editors, Politicians, some with kids of their own, some without.

[more to come ...]

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