I woke up this morning with a very strong urge to write. I’m not sure why the creative juices are flowing, but I figured I had better sit down and let the memories flow out onto the page before I forget them. My memory of late hasn’t been the best. I was in that lazy half awake, half dreaming stage of a Saturday morning sleep-in – thinking about life. Many who know my story have told me how traumatic it all must have been – and how strong I am as a person. But I don’t feel my life to have been traumatic – and I don’t feel so strong. They’ve been wanting me to turn my story in to a book – but I am convinced no one on the planet really cares about my life – or me – or will even read the words I am writing down today. But I need to do this .. for me. For future family members.
I was born in a small town in Scotland called Gourock. It’s on the West coast, along the river Skye, just to the north of Glasgow, if you were wanting to see it on a map. I’ve just recently started following a photographer who features Gourock on Facebook – and it’s still as beautiful as I remember. We lived in an even smaller village called Kilmacolm which I am told has become somewhat of a posh area to live. I’ve not been back to visit since we left – even though my heart has a strong desire to see if that’s where I truly belong.
Dad was a US Navy man – mom born and bred in Gourock. I’m told we were stationed in Virginia when I was very little – but the only memory I have of that time is a photo of me with puppies in a toy pram. My earliest memories are of going to school and playing with friends in our village. Of walking to school and trying to gather the courage to knock off the hats of the private school girls as we passed the huge gates of that building. Of trick-or-treating one year and being asked to perform a trick in exchange for a treat. Having to walk home in a strong blizzard – leaving my sister and her friend behind as I trudged along home to get a grown up to help them find their way.
I have not eaten eggs since I’ve lived in Scotland. One friend named Nicole lived in a house much larger than ours, with a large back yard. They had chickens running around! One day I spent the day with her, and we had a job of checking the eggs to see if there were baby chicks inside. We had to hold the eggs up to a light – and sure enough we found chicks inside a few. SInce then I just can’t bring myself to eat eggs. Today I use an Eggbeaters or similar product when a recipe requires eggs. Another memory of that day is something farm children experience quite a bit. Nicole’s grandfather chopped the head off a chicken (which we did not witness – thank goodness!) and it had escaped and was running around the yard. We were instructed to catch it … which I am sure was a lot of fun to watch as a grown up!
I remember the old stone building of our school – and thinking the stairs leading up from my 1st primary classroom were so massive and scary. It was a proud day when one was asked to bring the milk money up those stairs to the school office … but I was shaking in my shoes all the way up! I performed my first bad deed in that classroom. Someone had brought in a Barbie and Ken from America for show-and-tell. They were displayed properly on top of a bookcase. I went over to look at them and bumped the bookcase – Ken fell behind it. When the teacher discovered he was missing she got very cross with the classroom and asked if anyone knew where Ken went. I kept my mouth firmly shut! To this day I wonder if she ever found Ken. I am sure someone did – as the building was left to ruin between then and now.
I was chosen for a school choir in 2nd grade. We were to perform during some sort of special competition before some sort of nobility. That’s where my love of music and singing began – and it led me to sing all the way through High School in a school choir.
My final memories of Scotland are of moving to a new Primary School for 2nd grade. The classrooms were basically open concept – with 4 classes around a central hub. We were allowed to paint outside on the porch on sunny days and it was one of my very favorite things to do.
I remember going to pick up dad on one occasion and having the most delicious ice cream sundae and cream puffs at the Ferry Cafe. We traveled on the ferry a few times too, and our treat was always a Cadburry flake. There was one restaurant called Aldo’s that served the most delicious ham steaks – with a pineapple ring and cherry right on top. You can’t beat the meat pies, sausage rolls or other savory pastries served in Britain, either. These memories show you I loved food even back then!
We traveled a few times, too when I was little. Not venturing too far away from home – but we did get to visit the various castle around the area. Day trips to see the Lochs and scenery to the North of us. And then down to Edinburgh and on to England to visit cousins and the Zoo. I remember the penguin parade at the Zoo – it was the most glorious thing I had witnessed as a child, I think. Well, then too we visited Windsor castle and seen the funny soldiers and their giant hats. But for a child I think the penguins would have been more impressive.
On the plane from Scotland to the United States I was incredibly motion sick. It’s not a very fond memory for me. I do remember the kindness of the stewards – they found three empty seats so I could lay flat and sleep. Bringing ginger ale and crackers. Sick again in the taxi ride from the New Jersey airport to the New York airport … I remember that wild and crazy ride. But I don’t remember the flight from there to Colorado … we were visiting with mom’s sister before settling in to Virginia Beach. And those stories I will save for another day!