Jerry's View: Rich with love
I loved being a boy. With a big brother who was my hero, and a mother who put up daily with a drunk husband--staying with him anyway, without a noticeable cry--dedicated to her marriage, her kids, praying. I loved adventuring in the nearby, barely developed wooded land, Sunday school, grade school, high school, climbing our huge Gravenstein apple tree and gorging on the fruit, never much concerned by the worms.
I also loved street games like kick-the-can and run sheep run or performing for my sisters' boyfriends. Tossing milk bottle caps to the base of a concrete wall, throwing my jack-knife, playing real estate, sunning myself against the stucco-high wall at the Peninsula Park pool. I remember delivering the News Telegram and the Oregon Journal, making model airplanes I got from mailing Wheaties box tops, listening to wrestling matches coming all the way from Aberdeen, Washington on mom's crystal set in her attic den.
I guess, mostly, I always felt loved. I knew schoolmates who had electric trains and bikes, but I had a bag of marbles. Two special marbles my brother Russell gave me one Christmas, even though I knew he cherished them. I sold magazines, perfume and apples on the corner of Lombard and Vancouver Avenue. Many of the apples were wormy because dad never knew about spraying. I sold them for 50 cents a box and did not charge for the worms because my dad said they had to have someplace to sleep--and you would not like having somebody bite your bed in half. Made sense to me.
We had a beat-up Turkish rocker on the big front porch. The leather arms made perfect horses for my little sister and me on many a rainy day when we were restless. We rode that poor old horse or played hide and seek till the cotton stuffing oozed out.
Every so often the man from the electric company came out to shut off our lights. We had a wood-burning furnace and a natural gas stove, but we had no money; after the electric company man left, dad just went out to the meter with a pair of wire cutters and wow!--there was instant light. They never put him in jail, so he must have found some money. He did come home one day and gave mom a check for $121. I was there and could hardly wait to run out and find some buddy to tell him about the princely sum dad brought home. We were rich, I thought. Only later did I learn that we had been rich all along. We just didn't know it.