Location: Fort Worth, Texas, United States

Mother of 3, grandmother of 3. Compulsive writer. Single, not especially "looking."

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Being a Brat Wasn't Easy

Without telling too much that is in my book, Once a Brat, I can tell you that my life was not an easy life. True, I had advantages that few children could even dream of, but I also was deprived of many things.

Maybe that's one reason I hate diets? I don't like being deprived of anything. No chocolate? No bread? Don't eat this, but do eat that.....a pox on all the diet doctor's houses. I didn't have milk or ice cream while we were stationed in Seoul, Korea, in 1946, and by golly, I missed them. When our ship docked in San Francisco (I was never so glad to pass under the Golden Gate bridge, an emblem of our country, in all my nine years.) So one of the very first things I did when my feet hit solid ground was go to a drug store soda fountain and order an ice cream soda. Yum! I was home!

I missed a lot of other things kids in the states did that I didn't have any awareness of. When I hear people talk about the old "duck and cover" school drills, in case of nuclear attack, I draw a blank. Didn't have to do that overseas. Instead, we had suitcases packed under our beds, and practice evacuations in case Russia should suddenly take a notion to quit rattling the sabre and actually use it.

I also missed radio -- and commercials. Now who would think that would be a loss? But we had Armed Forces Radio, where the only commercials were "Re-enlist" types. And certainly no television; we didn't get our first tv until we reached Fort Hood TX in 1952.

Oh, yeah, I forgot about the inoculations we had to take. Before we went to Korea, my mother, brother and I had to undergo several series of shots, some of them hurt, some of them merely made my arm feel heavy as lead. We had plague, Japanese B encephalitis, typhoid, tetanus and lord knows what else. And these had to be followed by "booster" shots some months later.

When I reached junior high school age, where any girl can become an instant "fashionista"(although the word hadn't been invented yet) the arrival of a new girl in my class called for an immediate inspection: Cinch belts must be ïn." Peter Pan collars must be out, we surmised, because she never did wear one. What was the latest dance craze? Hair-do? That was just the girls, of course; I'm sure the boys had their own goals of discovering what was going on Stateside, like who is the ranking pitcher now? Who is going to the World Series? We weren't isolated from news, of course, but it was old by the time it reached us. And definitely given a military slant. We wanted the REAL news.

The worst thing about being a brat, of course, was taking leave of a place I had been for a year, or two or three. Friendships had been forged, and now I must climb into the back seat of my dad's car to drive to the train to catch a ship that would carry us away from this country. I know now why I can't form strong relationships -- it was too painful. So I had many friends, but my feelings were always superficial. Never learned how to work out a problem. We'd be gone in the next few days, so why bother? '

Ah, well, not all of bratdom was negative. I saw things that live in my heart even now, like art museums, monasteries, old Roman ruins, real castles, open air markets where you could buy gorgeous flowers for mere pennies, operas in the afternoons and trains that ran on time.

And, after all, doesn't everybody have some negative incidents in their lives? We get over them, or we get neurotic. Wasn't it Freud who said, "All neuroses are merely substitutes for genuine suffering."

He sure knew what he was talking about.

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