Life in the small town had its advantages. We were not at risk of being kidnapped, raped, or exposed to drugs; but a little alcohol never hurt, right? My mom didn’t know that concept. Throughout my life my mom drank, but I think she used to be better at hiding it when there was accountability in the house in terms of another adult. My older sister tried very hard for a long time to manage mom, but mom wasn’t having any of it.
I used to love pop-which kid didn’t right? It was expensive, and we went through it like water, any kind of bubbly sugar drink and I was hooked. Mom used to mix her Canadian Mist or Canadian Club whiskey with Squirt, have you ever tasted Squirt?? Horrible. But, “needs/must” (as my English friends say) so if I could find a can-even Squirt- with some liquid in it you could be sure I would swig it down before my sisters could. Yeah, this day was more of the same, I found a nearly full can, but this one was full of whiskey with a ‘dash’ of Squirt…I nearly threw it back up as soon as it went down! My older sister told me not to drink mom’s pop but I didn’t listen to her (big shocker there) and she laughed at me, which really pissed me off, so I drank another big gulp just for spite! I had to get her back for laughing at me, but it had to wait. The room became very wobbly and I freaked out because I thought I drank too much poison and was going to die, again my sister laughed.
It was time for some revenge. My sister was dating a guy that worked at a gas station in town, and she was gone a lot. I don’t blame her for being gone, as she was a teenager and probably tired of mothering two young sisters, especially me. So, one night we got lucky and my bestie from that time got to spend the night. It was very seldom that I had friends stay over as everyone in town knew my mother, and knew she wasn’t home, so we had no supervision. Actually, I think this time was probably the first (and only) time my bestie got to stay. We decided my older sister needed payback. We dressed up in all black, put panthose over our face, and made “cat ears” out of our hair and black socks. We had stuffed newspaper into tights for our tails, and headed out to the place my sister and her boyfriend would park. When they pulled up, we waited until the windows fogged in a bit, and surrounded the cab of the pickup and started making noises…when they wiped away the fog, we jumped at the windows screeching like rabid raccoons!!! We heard a “WOAH SHIT!! WHAT THE HELL IS THAT!!” And we ran off like the dickins, laughing all the way to our hiding spot under my bunk bed, in the deep drawer, where my cat had kittens years before. Of course my sister found us, and tried to pull me out by my feet, but I was kicking so much she finally gave up. Good times.
My older sister spent a lot of time out of the house, (do you blame her?) so my younger sister and I hung out a lot together. We got ourselves ready in the morning, got the school bus, fed ourselves, and basically ran around town any time and any hour we wanted to. The big problem was the ditch. We lived on the edge of town, and there was a good mile stretch where there was no streetlights, and on one side of the road was abandon/dilapidated buildings, and the other side was a ditch-a deep dark ditch-that could have monsters, robbers, or animals in it. People didn’t scare us much out in the country, but raccoons, coyotes, rattlesnakes, and tumbleweeds made too much noise to just dismiss. When this “Green Mile” came up we tried several different tactics to make it through, we ran, we moved to the middle of the road, we crawled (I know, I know) and even talked really loudly so the creatures who lay in wait of an ambush would hopefully scurry off. We never were attacked by Charles Manson, or Ka, (Jungle book snake) or the giant sewer alligator I’d seen on television last year, but we also never conquered our fear of it either.
What my biggest fear was? The weather. They say Colorado weather is “bi-polar” in the sense of it changed within minutes. We had loads of lightening, hail, snow, and tornado storms throughout the year. We were told not to “touch anything metal” during lightening storms, so to pass the time I took showers. Fun fact: DO NOT take showers, or be near ANY body of water during electrical storms as water conducts electricity quite well. 😳. The blizzards are really fun, but better if you have food in the house for when you get snowed in-we had guaranteed food at school, but not much at home- and blizzards shut down the school. The Blizzard of 1982 had hundreds of travelers stranded at my school over the Christmas holiday. The scariest for me was tornados. We lived in a static trailer home, which turned into a tin can during tornados. If I couldn’t find anyone to go see during a tornado watch, I would find a safe place and hide. We had a smaller ditch next to our trailer, so I would go there, and cover myself with anything I could pull over me. I was scared, I hated tornados more than anything (except Mark) in the world.
The landlord family became good friends with my mom, and they were good to us. They would take us kids with them on trips to the farm, to Nebraska, and anywhere I asked to go with them. We were out at (I refer to them now as grandma and grandpa) the farm when a tornado was headed our way. We all got into the basement and heard the sound of a “freight train” outside and we huddled into the room that had no windows. We were there for what seemed like forever, when we heard grandpa say “well I’ll be goddamned! We don’t have the schoolhouse anymore”. We ran upstairs to see grandma pointing to a single brick that crashed through the kitchen window and embedded itself into the wall, never to be moved again. Outside, the old one-room schoolhouse was peeled like a banana and now lay inside-out over the barn. The pop-up trailer was speared straight through by a 2×4, and the little metal whirlybird marry-go-round was gone. That was it, from what I can remember anyway.
I remember one storm was coming that reported baseball-sized hail, and some friends from our town picked us up and took us out of harms way. Colleen was a wonderful supporter of my mom and tried to help us out. It was such a long night waiting for the storm, and in the morning nothing really looked different, until we got to Deer Trail. The storm hit hard, and the town looked like it was abandoned. Huge trees were down, shingles all over the road, debris strewn all over the place, and we couldn’t drive down many streets. Every single WINDOW in the entire town was SMASHED! The hail stones were the size of a softball (just smaller than a honeydew melon) and car metal was no match for the giant ice balls-utter chaos. Thankfully no one was really hurt, and my mom’s boyfriend got really busy cutting glass. I started “Heather’s cleaning service” and made so much money raking yards.
My childhood wasn’t always fun and games, but it was so much better in the country than in the city. These memories are pretty light, and it feels good remembering even the little things. I always remember those who supported us, and also those who didn’t. All is forgiven on my side. ❤️
Mom + rehab = disaster…
🌈 Rest In Peace Colleen