Excerpt from when we lived in a car. Good times.
When Marge parked at the boys’ Taney Street address, I walked to school and always took the parkway so I could visit St. Paul’s Cathedral and say a prayer. We weren’t Catholic, but I knew it didn’t matter...
Please God, get me out of this situation. Please give me normal in my life. Oh, and please make me skinny. Thank you, Amen.
Once, I went back into the house because she was taking so long. I walked in to find Marge on the floor, lying on her back. My dad crouched over her with his hands pinning her wrists to the floor . “Enough!” he pleaded. “You need to stop this!”
I stood watching, horrified, yet amazed. Marge was struggling with him and sobbing until she saw me standing there. “Julie, go wait in the car!”
My dad jumped off of her and walked me back outside to the station wagon. “Your mom’s j...ust upset today.” He spoke softly and opened my door.
“I know.” I sat down in the front seat.
“You have a really good day, okay?” He bent down and kissed my forehead. “Don’t worry about anything, honey.”
I did worry. I worried all the time. I acted out in school that day and threw a book at my teacher, Miss Lilly. We always read books about kids or animals that had good relationships with their families. Miss Lilly was reading something sweet while everyone sat on their mats nicely. I got fed up with Bedtime For Frances, so I grabbed another book from a nearby shelf and flung it toward the front of the class while yelling, “I hate Frances!” stunning everyone around me. I immediately regretted it. Miss Lilly took me out into the hallway and made me sit alone until school was over. I pretended not to care when I saw my classmates playing and enjoying the morning snack without me.
“How could such a nice young lady get so angry?” Miss Lilly sat next to me after class and tucked her hair behind her ear.
“I’m sorry.” I picked at the buttons on my jumper dress. I knew I couldn’t tell her why I got so mad.
I think the worst part of all that is finally unfolding with the #metoo movement is when I hear or see, "she's lying", "he's lying", "they're lying". When the Philadelphia Inquirer published a four page article about then Chief Elmer Clawges, there were four of us that came forward. A few days later, I turned on KYW and heard a Clawges supporter say, "These girls are lying, they just want money." No, I thought, we just want it to stop:
One afternoon, about three days into Mrs.... Stockel’s absence, the Chief came into the office. He smiled and asked me how I liked the extra responsibilities.
“I like it.” I shifted nervously in my seat.
“Good.” The Chief opened a file drawer in front of the desk, pulled out a file, and rummaged through some papers.
“How old are you?” He took off his suit jacket and started toward his office. “What grade are you in?” he yelled from the other room.
I waited until he returned so that I wouldn’t have to yell out. “I’m going to be sixteen.”
Elmer Clawges rolled up his sleeves like he was going to wash dishes. He pulled several more files and returned to his office. Just as I was going to head to the township building to mail the accident reports, he returned. “I want a Pepsi.” He reached into his pocket. “Do you want something?”
“No thanks, I’m okay.”
“I think I’m going to need change.” He flipped through his money and walked toward the door that led into the hallway.
“Mrs. Stockel has a petty cash safe.” I turned and opened the desk drawer, happy that I could assist.
Then, I heard the hallway door close.
The Chief walked toward the desk. “Why is the door closed?” My heart thumped.
“Because I can’t help myself.” He closed the curtains and the desk drawer was all that was between us.
“Look! That’s where I’m going to go!” Grandma pointed to a large red headstone a few grave sites back from my dad’s. It already had her name and birthdate written on it as well as her husband’s name, lifespan, and something about the military. “He fought in World War One, and was disabled after that.” She caught me staring. I never met him and I couldn’t even remember seeing any pictures of him.
“Your headstone is nice, Grandma.” I felt so creepy saying it, but I was sure it was the response she was looking for. I glanced back down at my dad’s flowers, faded, much like my memories of him. I knew the empty area of grass next to his was Marge’s plot. I had visions of bird droppings on her marker.
Photo taken during that trip. 14 years old.