By Tyrone A. Moore
Because most people who worked in the mines lived in homes that were built near by, they usually walked to work. For that reason, my father did not own or needed a vehicle. In those days, milk and groceries were delivered to the front door, for a small fee, or by credit usually. My mother very seldom ventured out of the house other than the brief time she use to take dad his lunch. But that soon ended abruptly, when my mother was getting far too much attention from dad’s co-worker’s flirtatious; comments, and whistles. Of course, my dad, got filled with rage and jealousy, and would come home after work, and beat my mother up for something, she could not help. My mother was very pretty, and had a very nice figure! This was a chief reason our groceries were delivered to the house. Besides, we didn’t have a car. Mom was not allowed to go to the store without my dad. There was only one person, my mother was allowed to visit, and that was the Greek lady across the street.
I use to play with her little boy, who was a year younger than me. His name was George Athans. He was an Aries. We played very well together and never fought. We would play jump rope, hop scotch, played with his cars, and played catch with his ball, and played with his toy cars. Little George really had a lot of neat cars to play with. He had an older sister, that was the same age as my sister, and they played with each other, but did not let me play with them. George, and I, was three and four years younger. So we were a burden to them of course! Again our house was directly across from Mrs. Athans. We lived, in a red brick house , with two bedrooms, a front yard, and a back yard. Dad, built a white fence, made out of wood around both sides of our house, and the back of the house. The main reason the fence was built, was for the protection, of my younger brother Juan. In the front of our house was a four- foot tall cement fence. Every home on our side of the street, had a cement wall built, in the front of the house. All the homes on our side of the street, were built a few feet higher than the side-walk, and the cement walls, would hold back the dirt from spilling over. It also served to protect the household’s little children from running into the street. Cement stairs allowed access to the side-walk. The homes across the street, were built on level ground, even to the side-walk, and the street.
On most days, mom would go across the street to visit Mrs. Athans, after she would finish cooking and cleaning the house. I would go too, and sometime my sister would also go with us, if she was out of school for the summer. Mom and Mrs. Athans would drink tea, and sometimes wine, that Mrs. Athans made in her basement. They shared recipes, and mom would read her fortune. Mrs. Athans an mom were around the same age. With very beautiful jet-black hair, cut at shoulder length, Mrs. Athans was olive complexion, and had an extremely thick Greek accent. She had the most prettiest pair of round black-olive like eyes! Always so motherly, and affectionate. “Hello Maria, do want to play with little George?” Mrs. Athans always wore, a very cheerful smile on her face, and she was always glad to see us. “Okay, you two go outside and play, but don’t get into any trouble!” Then she’d always say…Okay?” Making homemade yogurt, and cooking Lamb her favorite dish, she was always in the kitchen like mama. She was a great cook too! The sound of Greek music could be heard inside her home as we approached. She even taught us how to dance like Greek people. I really enjoyed that a lot. My mother, and Mrs. Athans, wore their house dresses religiously, because they were professional housewives. Today, they would be classified as, “Stay at home mom!”
Mrs. Athans and her family lived in the same house that my godparents lived in some years later. At the time I was about five years old. My El Hermano, (brother) Jesus who was 18 years old. He loved to play the guitar and piano with his friends. His friends would come over to the house an have jam sessions in the living room. My brother Jesus could also play ragtime music! We had a piano that my father bought for my sister Rosita. Jesus learned to play the piano by ear. He was good. One of my brother’s friend use to come over to our house by himself to play music. He looked to be younger than my brother Jesus. But he was really attracted to my mother. This was about 1957 when Elvis Presley was out and on fire. My brother and his friend loved playing their guitars and taking turns imitating Elvis. I don’t recall my brother’s friends name, but he was a very Guapo (handsome) young white man, with dirty blonde hair. One afternoon when my father or my brother was not home, this guy came over to our house. My mother had brought out this sexy Hawaiian skirt from the closet that she had won from a contest. Mom was definitely trying her best to get rid of me, so that her and this young man could be alone! She’d say, “Hey Maria, why don’t you go into the other room and play.” Or..”Why don’t you go across the street and see if little George wants to play with you.” At the time I was only 5 years old. So I walked across the street, to see if George could play with me, but he wasn’t home. When I return home, mom had that Hawaiian skirt on and dancing for this guy! I said, “Que Pasa?” (“what are you doing mom?”) She said, “I am showing him how to hula dance.” The man grabbed her and started kissing her. Mom shoved him away from her when she saw me. I thought to myself, gosh, this guy must really like the way my mom dances! Mom then bent down, to my level and grabbed my wrist tightly, and warned me, “Don’t you dare tell your father, because you know he would hit me and hurt me!” I said, “Oh no mom I won’t tell dad. I promise.” I don’t know if I wanted that same attention from this guy, that he had shown my mother or what. All I knew was, that my father never showed me or my mother that kind of passionate attention that she was now getting from my brother’s friend. I thought that this really thought that my mother was truly something special. And I wanted that same appreciation from a male figure that I was missing in my life as well. So I had put on the skirt after my mom had changed clothes, and when my mom saw me with it on, she slapped on the face, and asked me…”What are doing with that skirt on?” “Go take that skirt off right now, and don’t ever let me catch you wearing it again!”
I had this thing, that whenever I would get hit by my parents in front of company, I never wanted people to see me cry, so I would take off and hide behind an old black trunk that belonged to my dad. I would be just sobbing up a storm! I remember feeling such hatred toward my mother for hitting me and embarrassing me in front of company. It hurt my feelings more than it hurt me physically. I didn’t think that I was doing anything wrong, I just wanted to be treated the same way that she was getting treated. But instead of hugs, and kisses, all I received was a slap in the face in front of this man! Ironically, as much as I was lacking that physical acceptance from a man, I was also afraid of men, because I witness first hand the violence, a man could inflict upon a woman. After this man and mom finished smooching on each other, mom told this guy, “you better get out of here before someone sees you!” After he had left, my mother grabbed me by the ear and said, “next time I have company, you better not be snooping around!” Then mom reminded me not to tell anyone what I had saw. “If anyone ask, you better tell them, that he came over to see your brother!” “And, if you tell your dad, I am going to beat you. Then your dad is going to beat me also. So you just better keep your mouth shut!” I could tell my mother was still upset with me the rest of the day. She probably was very nervous that I was going to slip up and tell someone what I had saw. Or maybe, mom thought, someone saw this guy leaving the house that day, and perhaps they were a little suspicious.
The first person, that had entered the house, after the man had left, was my sister’s. I was still pouting and it lasted all day, and all night, because when get my feelings hurt, it usually lingers all day. All my other siblings, didn’t think much about my sulking, because they knew that, I was always in trouble for something, or another. I would punish myself by saying to myself over and over, “why did I do that? I must be an idiot!” Now that I think about it, most of my chastisement, was due to the fact, that I was always home with mom. So finally, the day came, when I started my first day at school. I remember my mother dressing me up in a pink dress she had made, with pink shoes, that had little white bows on top of them. I had begged mom for those shoes, so she made me a pink dress to match. On that particular morning, my brothers, and my sister, teased me saying, “the kids at school are going to be mean to you.” I just say, “no they won’t!” After mom had combed my hair, she walked me to school, then she gave me a loving soft kiss on the cheek, and told me to be a good girl in school, and to mind the teacher. My teacher, was an old white woman with short gray hair. I watched my mother as she disappeared around the corner. I was afraid to be left alone without her there to protect me. I felt her protection, slip away with her, as she rounded the corner! As true as my brothers, and sister, had told me, sure enough the kids at school started teasing me. While I was playing with these big wooden blocks, some little boy started fighting with me over one of the wooden blocks.
-End of Episode 4