Now retired from a career as an Executive Assistant, Pam lives in Tucson and spends her spare time with her two grandchildren.
Back To The Future
Growing up in the 60s, I always considered myself to be a simple Mid-western girl living in what we called a "one horse" town. Surrounded by rolling acres of cropland, where I grew up you could be a kid for a long time. In those days, we never worried about a boogieman lurking around our neighborhood trying to abduct us.
During the summers, there were vine ripe tomatoes and corn on the cob in abundance. Our fence line in the backyard was draped in bushes of wild raspberries. If you tried to pick any of them you had to be careful not to disturb the giant spider dangling in the middle of it's strategically woven web. I can still remember the sweet fragrance coming from our honeysuckle bush. We used to suck the nectar by pulling off the tip of the honeysuckle flower. It tasted just like sugar. There were also plenty of apple trees throughout the neighborhood. Anytime you wanted an apple, you could pick one off a limb and eat it; there were never any toxic pesticides to wash off. The only thing you had to worry about was biting into a worm.
This was a place where meat and potatoes were the main staple. Life was pretty uncomplicated then and driving into town to get something to eat was like a field trip for the family. There was one McDonald's that was a thirty-mile drive into the city. We hardly went anywhere, so it was a real treat to go out for a hamburger, shake, and fries for only fifty cents. At home it was routine for my mom to cook meat almost every night of the week. Who could forget liver and onions? As a kid, my favorite dish was meatloaf smothered in ketchup, but I was always dreaming about endless supplies of ice cream and candy. Unfortunately for me, my parents never had those kinds of things in the house. The only way I could satisfy my sweet tooth was from the sugar bowl that always sat in the middle of the kitchen table. If no one was around, I would quickly dive into it with a spoon. This is how my addiction to sugar began.
My brother Frank and I are fourteen months apart in age, he being the eldest. Growing up, we weren't close and we didn't get along. If we saw each other at school, we never spoke; I didn't have his back and he didn't have mine. At home, if we caught one another breaking any rules, we snitched each other out. You would think given our situation we would stick together, but this was not the case. Apparently we didn't get the memo that there was safety in numbers.
One evening, when I was about four years old, my parents were driving us home from visiting relatives. As usual, Frank and I were fighting in the back seat. I became angry and as soon as we got home, I jumped out of the car and ran ahead of him and beat him to the front door. I quickly pressed the door lock so he couldn't get in. I then stood behind the glass door and made faces at him while he screamed and boiled with anger. The next thing I knew, Frank punched through the glass pane with his fist. My parents came running and blood and glass were everywhere. We rushed him to the doctor and I watched as they used those frightening metal clamps on his badly cut arm. To this day he still has a three-inch scar inside his arm near the elbow. I remember feeling sad that I was partly to blame. My remorse was short lived; throughout our entire childhood, we fought like cats and dogs.
The grade school we attended was located between two livestock farms and acres of cornfields. Because the school was so small, the fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth grades had to double up and share two teachers. There was no gymnasium and we didn't get a cafeteria until I was in the third grade. A chain link fence surrounded the school playground and was the only thing separating us from the cattle farms. During recess, it was so much fun to tease the cows and entice them to come closer so we could pet them