This post continues a series using the Alphabet to go through streets that were significant in my life as part of the Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge. This post takes us back to the time when I was still living at home.
My mother bought the house at 5397 Oregon in 1959 for $8,000. It was the first house we owned. Before that we lived in houses owned by the church my father pastored or, after my parents divorced, in a rented flat on Calvert. I was 13 and in the 8th grade when we moved in and a 21 years old senior in college when we moved to the flat on Fairfield. Nine years was the longest I lived in any house when I was at home.
Sitting on the porch with my mother. 1962.
Photographs from the downstairs, various years.
There are no photographs of the upstairs. There was a hall, three bedrooms and the only bathroom in the house. My room looked out on the backyard. The other two bedrooms looked out the front of the house. The bathroom was right across from my room and the stairs were right next to it. The hall ended in a door that went out on the upper back porch. These two drawings are of my bedroom, looking out on the hall and the stairs and the bathroom. They are ballpoint pen and then I sprayed them with perfume. I had to come up with an experimental project for this advanced drawing class and that is what I came up with. I ruined many drawings with that perfume.
Some memories from those years:
Discovering world wide revolution as I started high school. Getting magazines from Cuba, China and Mexico. Listening to radio Habana on the short wave band of our radio. Spending hours in my room reading, clipping photos and articles, looking at maps, filling in maps.
The Christmas we got several of Miriam Mekeba’s records and they became the sound track for that Christmas.
The neighbor’s house being so close that in the summer I could hear them talking through my open bedroom window.
The summer my cousins came to visit from Athens Tennessee and slept in my sister’s room while she moved in with me. The visit was half over when we discovered they had not set up the cot and were crowding into one twin bed. We set it up for them.
My cousin, Greta, cutting my hair so that I could wear an afro during this same 1967 visit.
Almost getting to Cuba and Mexico, but not quite. Did make it to Santa Barbara, CA.
Coming down with the flu one fall day while playing chess with my uncle Henry and being sicker then I remembered being since having pneumonia.
Dried peppers hanging on the kitchen door. Tomato wine/vinegar brewing in a big vat in the kitchen. My mother’s garden under the mulberry tree where she grew green beans. The moldy mulberries under the tree later in the year.
Building an igloo in the backyard one winter.
Pearl walking around the living room on the furniture without touching the floor when my mother wasn’t home.
Nikki Giovanni staying at our house during the 1967 Black Arts Conference.
From my journal:
12/22/67 the winds blowing dry seed on the tree of heaven outside.
1/4/1967 gray, rustle, wind, snow makes more gray. Creaks and roar, grey, grey sky.Everything is quiet. the wind sounds cold. Even the drip of the faucet is cold. Creaks and breath of wind.snow like cover of cold. pale blue summer sky over grey cold.
2/6/1968 i don’t know what’s wrong. every so often i sink into one of these things. deep down loneliness. loneliness fills you empty. Apart in a separateness or a separateness is in me. it’s felt inside my stomach. a lump of muscus won’t digest. sits inside me. floats inside my emptiness… apartness is inside me – is me. me is separate. apart. alone. it’s dark. cold/hot. Still. i stand in a vacant field, large clear area of land off Warren Avenue. The moon is out. i stand in center and watch the moon.
4/4/2968 it’s beautiful weather out. warm. windy. you should be in the country. Tonight i a. type 2 stories, one for Billy Thomas, b. do drawing, guess i’d best do the drawing first, correct – part of armor, maybe college type thing. yeah. that’ll be interesting. go to museum at 4 or 4:30. Eat when? ¿Quien sabe? i have the terrible feeling none of this is going to come out.
4/21/1968 tell him i cried. sat on porch wanting him to come back. look out the window wanting him to take me with him. i didn’t just not want to go home, i wanted to go with him.
“When you are singing
a bird comes
and joins you”