Along with the terrible abuse I had already suffered from my mother from the time I was born until I reached the middle of my seventh year of life, I had also experienced (along with the rest of my family) a great number of moves.
I mention this because to carry my own memories of myself in my childhood forward more coherently I have had to work to create some kind of accurate equivalent of a TIMELINE upon which I can locate myself not only in time within my memories — but also so that I can locate myself in terms of place — a PLACELINE.
I know now that I had lived in at least four houses by the time I was five. When I was five my mother (primarily) decided our family would move from Glendora (a suburb of Los Angeles, California) to Alaska.
During the two months of the summer of 1957 that Mother and her children remained in California while Father moved ahead of us to Alaska to start his new job there and to accumulate enough money to rent a home for the rest of us to join him in, Mother dragged we children through a series of spontaneous and ridiculously chaotic moves that were too many to mention here.
We joined Father in Alaska July 31, 1957. My 6th birthday was August 31, 1957. We moved into a nice rented rambler-style log house with a one-year lease. We barely stayed in this house in the small town of Eagle River for the duration of the lease. In February 1958, with Mother’s persistent encouragement, Father staked claim to 160 acres of land to homestead far back in the Eagle River Valley.
The main two-lane road only went part way into the valley where it then turned into a rugged, mostly impassable Jeep trail that then met our family’s mountain road that was under construction during the fall of 1958. This road was impassable, so Mother decided to rent a small rough cabin in the woods beginning August 1st, 1958 so that she could ‘practice homesteading.’
I turned 7 in this cabin. By the end of September Mother had decided this place was far too difficult to remain in for the winter, and she rented a small one-bedroom apartment in Anchorage for the six of us to live in for the winter.
By this time many of our belongings were being stored in the cabin owner’s old van and in his canvas Jamesway shed. The rest was hauled into the small apartment. The heavy winter snows began. A month after we were settled in the small apartment Mother was able to rent a larger two-bedroom apartment — so we hauled ourselves and what belongings we had with us up there.
I began 2nd grade while we lived here. We children were sent to Sunday school. By February 1959 Mother had purchased an old gray small one bedroom camp trailer and had made arrangements (with my father in tow with her ideas) to have the trailer hauled to the end of the rugged Jeep road in the dead of winter. She then gave notice to the apartment’s owners, packed all our belongings in boxes, and told us we were OFF to homestead.
No go, of course. We sat in the apartment on a daily basis, squatting, perching, ready to flee off to Mother’s big adventure, until the end of March. On April 1st, 1959 we were out of the apartment and living — all six of us — in the uninsulated tiny trailer parked in a homesteader’s field at the bottom of the mountain below the land we were to homestead.
No running water. No electricity. I and my brother in 3rd grade spent over a month commuting with Father into Anchorage to school and back — a journey that took hours each way. We were pulled out of school early and never finished our school year.
All this said, and with many many many many more moves yet to come over the span of my childhood, I turn back to Easter of this 1959 year.
I knew we were moving by this time, of course. Because we were still living in town when Easter rolled around I had a chance to have a very short personal conversation with my Sunday School teacher before we left.
I told her that day that we were moving away to go homestead on a mountainside, so I would not be able to come back to Sunday School classes any more. Being a very bright, eager and interested student I had to ask my teacher, “Because I won’t be here any more, will you please at least tell me what book you are going to study next.”
I have never forgotten the wide-eyed stare of surprise on my teacher’s face as she replied to me in one of those high pitched voices that let me know I had done something ‘wrong’.
“There is only one book!” she exclaimed rather than explained. “We will keep studying the Bible, of course!!!”
“OK,” my little young pure mind translated for me. “I have been here in these classes all year. We studied stories in the Old Testament. Then in December Jesus was born and we studied about Christmas. Then we studied about His life while my parents bought their trailer and packed up all our things again. And then we learned about how Jesus was crucified, and today being Easter we studied about how Jesus rose again in resurrection.”
On some level in my 7-year-old mind — and with my older-soul, I knew, “Now, there has to be more to this story. There HAS to be more to study. There ARE MORE BOOKS! If God is as big as everyone says He is, He must have a whole lot more to say. How could anyone think there is only one book to read? They have been studying this same book for two thousand years? Why have they not found all the NEW books God has written since then?”
It made perfect sense to me, having gone to all the Sunday School classes for the entire year, having listened carefully to everything that I had been taught — I was ready to move on.
It wasn’t until I was all the way through my childhood, and until I was ‘put into the Navy’ a month after my 18th birthday, and after I had gone through half a lifetime of struggles in the following year until the month of my 19th birthday — that I heard the rest of the story!
I was correct in what I knew at age seven! If you are remotely interested, you can check out the answers I received HERE