(p. 13) WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE PASTIME AS A CHILD? DID YOU PREFER DOING IT ALONE OR WITH SOMEONE ELSE?
I got a bike for Christmas when I was eight or nine. I named it Liberty, painting the name on the chain guard with red nail polish. I rode that bike all over Miami Springs, Medley, and Hialeah, often by myself, but with my friends too..
I liked to walk too. In high school it was uncool to ride one's bike to school. Usually I would take the school bus, but I could easily walk the five miles home. In Bryson City, I walked all over the place too. There was a secret short cut on the right side of the road from the house into town, that led to the top of Leatherwood Hill.
I did a lot of reading. In seventh grade we all had to take a class called Directive Reading. All we did was read and write book reports. I was directed to read books that were not mysteries, because in the beginning, that's all I read. I worked in the library after school. I had a crush on a boy named Jim who liked car racing. So I started reading a series of books about the Black Tiger - The Black Tiger at Le Mans, The Mexican Road Race, etc.
There was a popular teenage romance author named Rosamond du Jardin. All the girls read her stuff.
My best friends were Polly, Marta, and Nancydee. Polly and Marta lived in the immediate neighborhood. We did a lot of visiting back and forth. Polly and I were in Girl Scouts and church together.
Nancydee lived in Hialeah. She went to the beach with us a lot on weekends. I could walk to her house with her after school when we were in high school. Later, she moved to Miami Springs, after I had moved away. I visited her one summer and she introduced me to booze for the first time. It was a very sweet liqueur called Rock and Rye. The rock was a big chunk of sugar that half filled the bottle.
(p. 14) WHO GAVE YOU YOUR NAME AND WHY? DID YOU HAVE A FAMILY NICKNAME? HOW DID YOU GET IT?
Mom named me Martha-Carolyn (the hyphen was important to her) after her mother and her father’s sister, Aunt Carrie. My Grandmother was Martha Francis but didn’t like the name Martha either, so she reversed it to Francis Martha by the time she went to nursing school ( see diploma in the guest room). She was always known as Fannie. Aunt Carrie, according to my cousin Nell, was actually named Fannie Carrie, not Carolyn, but formalized her name to Carolyn. Mom was often uncomplimentary of her mother and admiring of Aunt Carrie.
Anyway, I was called Skee, which came from my daddy. It is from “Skeeter” from mosquito. Uncle Bud still calls me “Skeeter”?
Butch had a strange nickname too. It was “Rhee”. I don't know where that came from. He became “Butch” which suited him. Today he prefers to go by “Bob”.
I dropped “Martha” forever when I married in 1968.
(p. 15) DESCRIBE YOUR CHILDHOOD BEDROOM. WHAT WAS THE VIEW FROM YOUR WINDOW?
I’m remembering the house in Miami Springs, Florida, a one-level three bedroom house in a pretty neighborhood where you could walk or bike to everything, safely. To the left of the living room were two bedrooms. The one in front belonged to my mom and Aunt Mary Nell, and the one in back was mine. That way all the girls used one bathroom and Butch used the other, on the other side of the house. My room had a window facing the side yard and another facing the back. I could see an awesome array of plants - Crotons, Poinsettias, a gardenia, a persimmon tree, mango tree, lime tree, grapefruit tree. All this stuff was hardy year around. In front we had coconut palms (in the back too) and a Bougainvillea hedge. Out my side window was a white wall between the front and back yards against which a Poinsettia grew. I wish I had pictures! My room was painted light green and had to stay that way because you could see it from the living room when my door was open. I won’t write about Butch removing the door knob.
(p. 16) WERE YOU BAPTIZED OR DEDICATED AS AN INFANT? IF SO, WHERE AND BY WHOM?
I was baptized as a baby, but not sure where. It may be written in the big family bible that Butch has. There was a “preacher” (that is how mom usually referred to our minister of pastor) named Mr. Gebhart that she admired. He was in Northern Virginia, either Arlington or Falls Church when I was 4 thru 7. I’m wanting to say he baptized me, but think I should have been younger. I did “join the church” - make my own confession of faith when I was twelve. I made a more personal acceptance of Jesus as my savior a year of two later - actually maybe three - when I was in high school. I was active in Youth for Christ and horrified my mom by taking up with the Methodist Youth Fellowship. The beliefs were similar to Presbyterian and the kids had more energy. I was active and actually joined West End Methodist Church in Nashville in college. Eventually I tool a wrong turn. I am so sorry I didn’t raise you kids as Christians, but I trust God will call you in his own way.
(p. 17) WHAT ARE YOUR EARLIEST MEMORIES OF CHURCH?
I have no clear memories of church in Northern VA or elsewhere before Miami Springs, except for Daddy's funeral. Daddy didn't go to church with us; I do remember asking Mom about that once. She said Daddy worshipped God privately, in his own way.
You know about my nickname Skee, and I've told you about Butch being called Rhue when he was very young. We walked into the Sunday school in Miami Springs for the first time and told them our names. They expected us to have normal names so greeted us, "Hi, Steve and Ruth!" I wanted to die from embarrassment, or change my name to Ruth.
(p 18) WHERE DID YOUR FATHER GO TO WORK EVERY DAY AND WHAT DID HE DO?
He was an Air Force pilot and officer. My earliest memory is of his working at the Pentagon, when I was about four. When I was almost seven, he was sent to Japan, to Bradley Air Force Base on Kyushu. That summer mom, Butch and I traveled by ship to live there. It took a month, my one cruise so far. After a few days of being seasick it was fun. I remember watching lots of whales and flying fish. When we got to Japan, we lived in one half of a well-to-do family’s home for about five months, waiting for base housing. We had a long school bus ride and sometimes had to stop for parachute jump. The plane would have a color-painted tail and the parachutes matched. I didn’t see much of Daddy, but I do remember he would put me on his shoulders and take me outside to see the moon. We named the phase of the moon e.g. a full moon was a “daddy moon”.
(p. 19) HOW DID YOUR MOTHER SPEND HER DAY? DID SHE HAVE A JOB OF DO VOLUNTEER WORK OUTSIDE THE HOME?
When Daddy was alive, she was active in volunteer work. Officers’ Wives Club stands out. She enjoyed being “The Colonel’s Lady.” During the day there was usually a housekeeper taking care of us.
After Daddy died, mom went to work as a nurse. She had been a neuro nurse in W.W.II. Very proud of being a Duke graduate and of her war experience. She moved us to Miami Springs because Aunt Mary Nell was there, single, working for Delta Airlines as a Stewardess Supervisor. Mom went to work for Jackson Memorial Hospital, the big county hospital, in July 1954. She rose to Assistant Director of Nursing by the time we left in 1962. She had philosophical differences with the director who wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. So mom left when she found an offer she couldn’t refuse. For most of that time, Miss Anclare was our housekeeper. After she retired, Doris and Bill lived in the guest house. Doris was cool, maybe 20 years old. She taught me about no-iron fabrics, new then.