Part One: The Ones I Have Lived In
I have lived most of my 50 years in small towns of Nebraska. I guess most people would consider them that, as the population of most of them was around 5,000. Some as little as just a couple of hundred. So when I would travel to nearby cities of 10, 000 plus I thought these were “big ” cities when I was a youngster.
When I was around the age of 5, my family moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma. This was my first experience with an actual big city, that I can remember. We moved there because Dad got a job as a draftsmen. This was after he had taken courses so it was his first job in his new career. I think we only lived in Tulsa for about six months. I don’t think any of my family liked the big city life. Here are some of my reasons for not liking it.
My Mom walked me to school in the afternoon for kindergarten. (Yes, I am from the good old days when kindergartens only went a half day. You were assigned to either the morning or afternoon class) The school was a few blocks away. I had to cross a very busy “highway” that is what a busy city street seemed to me at the time. It was manned by a crossing guard to help kids across. On this particular afternoon, the crossing guard walked to the middle of the intersection held up his stop sign and the traffic light was also red. He returned to the curb to walk me across, my Mom asked him a question and he was answering her. I thought they were talking too long. So I did what any bored kid did when their parents started talking. I decided I was big enough to cross the street by myself.
I started walking and got about to the middle of the intersection, when my Mom and the crossing guard are yelling at me. I stopped and started to turn my head towards them. Just as I was turning my head I see a silver and green blur inches from my face. I start crying and run back to my Mom.
The crossing guard tried to get a plate but the car was going to fast. The driver had run the red light. They didn’t even slow down or stop to see if they had it me. The crossing guard and Mom were both angry, but not at me. The crossing guard told us that he had actually been it before. I don’t actually remember if I attended class that day. When I was around 9 years old I thought back on this experience and made up this little song.
Look both ways before you cross if you don’t you might get smawshed! It happened one day I didn’t look both ways and was the end of MY FACE!
I had an active imagination.
Reason two was I thought the neighbor lady was kidnapping me. She picked me up from school one day because Mom had a doctor’s appointment, I think. We start driving and I notice she doesn’t take the turn to go home. I am a bit worried so I say,” You missed the turn.” She tells me to sit back, shut up, and I will get you home in a little bit. Well to my 5-year-old mind that sounded scary and a little bit was forever. I quietly sobbed in the back seat. I was thinking I would never see my family again. I don’t remember the actual return home because the fear of being kidnapped was greater than the relief. Why does the mind do that, you can remember the scary better than the relief and happiness of the experience?
This reason really could have happened at any time, anywhere in my young school years. I was waiting for one of my older brothers to come to my classroom to walk me home after school. All the other kids were picked up and I was standing in the hall alone. The teacher was on her way home, she was surprised that I was still there. She asked me who was supposed to come get me, I said one of my brothers. She didn’t want me to stand in the hall alone so she took me to the office. She explained to the secretary what was going on and left. I was sitting there for a few more minutes and the secretary was going to call my Mom, when my brother finally came in to get me. I was so relieved. Once again my active imagination had gotten the better of me. I sat there in the office quietly crying thinking my family didn’t want me any more and I would have to go home with the secretary. It turns out that my brothers had sports or band after school that day. That information was not passed on to me for some reason.
The last reason was one I was told about a few years later after we moved from Tulsa. My parents were in their bedroom and had just laid down to go to sleep. They hear what they think what maybe gunshots. Their thinking was correct, as a bullet came speeding through the window just above their heads. It was not long after this that we moved back to Nebraska.
Since then I have lived in big cities as a young adult. Those experiences were much more pleasant. I lived in Cody, Wyoming for about 6 months. It is sprawled out over many miles surrounded by mountains. I do not drive, so walking anywhere was a bit of a hike. The best part of living there was working at the Wendy’s restaurant. I was the hostess and set up the food bar. Wednesday it was Mexican foods and Friday it was pastas. When that was done I did my hostessing. You may ask what a hostess does at a Wendy’s. I just went around talking to the customers. I would help with high chairs and pass out mints. I also cleaned up after they left. When the restaurant was really busy I would take people’s orders while they were waiting in line. So by the time they got to the register it was ready and they could sit and enjoy their meal sooner. I really enjoyed all my coworkers and the manager gave me the coolest nickname. He said my name sounded royal. So he called me Queen of Arlenia. I think this was my second favorite job I ever had.
My next experience with big city life was when I lived in first Tempe, Arizona and about a year later Gilbert, Arizona both of which are suburbs of Phoenix, Arizona. When we lived in Tempe we were about a block from a strip mall. It was just a short walk through the housing complex and we crossed a quiet residential street to get to it. So when David was out-of-town on business I and my daughter, Kay had things we could go do. There was also a K-Mart two blocks away. We had to cross a busy 4 lane “highway” to get to the K-Mart though. So you bet your butt I had Kay’s hand and we looked for cars with do diligence.
It was here that I got to see my first and only professional NFL game. The Phoenix Cardinals were playing my favorite team the DENVER BRONCOS. The Cards did not have their own stadium yet as they had just recently joined the league, so they played in the college stadium for the Arizona Sun Devils. It was crazy hot, but I enjoyed the game even though the Broncos lost. It was an exciting experience for this small town girl.
We moved back to Nebraska again after the company David worked for sold out. We returned to Arizona when his friend found him a new company to work for doing the same thing. This time we lived in Gilbert. I had the most happy experiences here. David and I got married there and our son, Nick was born.
The company told David they were going to keep him out-of-town most of the time soon after Nick was born. David was getting tired of the rat race again. He wanted to be around to watch Nick and Kay grow up. So we decided to move back to Nebraska to be nearer to both of our families and a slower pace of life.