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CHAPTER FIVE

Back To Massachusetts

My stepfather couldn't make a living farming and Mom wanted to move back to Massachusetts. She knew she could get her old job back at Foster Grant. So, move we did. We bought a small, 1 bedroom house trailer, parked it at Dunwoody's Trailer Park, she was off to work days and stepfather got a job nights. We slept on folding Army cots.

We were going to Priest Street School again. One day, when I was in 6th grade, Dad did come to the school and ask me if I wanted a ride home. I was very afraid of him and started to cry - I wouldn't go in the car with him. I ran up to the Principal's office and had to explain everything to her; she kept me with her (Mrs. Cheney), until he drove off.

When we lived in the first trailer, Bob was about 2 years old. Irene and I were always in charge of taking care of him. We wanted to go down the hill, to the field and small flooded area, to play. We weren't really suppose to, but did anyhow. We built a small raft and loaded Bob onto it. By the time the three of us were on the raft, it sank. Of course, he tumbled and rolled around on the raft and got wet all over - we just got our feet wet. We didn't dare tell anyone, we would have been beat. (We were beat a lot by Horace, especially me because I was a non-conformist). So, we dried off Bob's snowsuit, etc. (after walking about a mile through the snow and getting good and cold and frozen); he survived, didn't even get a cold.

While we were living there, I tried sliding down the sledding hill - this time I tried going down on my stomach, which I had never tried. This wasn't the time to start, because the snow was covered with ice and a tree loomed ahead of me, right at the bottom of the hill. I slid into it with my jaw; saw stars, was knocked out, was bloody, and had to face my Mom.

One time, Irene and I had been told to go to the Trailer Park's showers and take one...trailers didn't have bathing facilities, at least ours didn't. We were taking care of Bob, and decided to take him with us, although we knew he was scared of showers. He was scared of everything; Horace always bopped him on the head, to try to get him to do something new, it didn't work. We thought we could teach him less painfully, but he got so scared that he ran screaming, naked, all the way back to the trailer. And, we were in trouble again.

Horace would come home early in the morning, and Mom would cook some oatmeal and leave for work. Horace would get us up for school, and he would go to bed. We would eat the cold oatmeal, or get killed if we didn't. I would keep the oatmeal in my mouth and cheeks, and spit it all out, as soon as I reached the back of the trailer. Horace would beat me nearly every day. One time he knocked me to the floor, in the small aisle-way in the trailer: he said he was going to kill me, and punched away until I must have passed out. I donít remember telling my Mom about these beatings, any longer Ė she had enough problems without me giving her any more.

Later, we got a nice new trailer, with 3 bedrooms, parked it on the same pad after we sold the little trailer. We were always trying to earn money, of which, shoveling snow was about the most lucrative. Our best customers were these two little old ladies at the trailer park. They would pay good and invite us in for hot chocolate and cookies. This was really special to us. And, they would pump us with some questions. Turns out they were the same two little old aunts, we used to live over in the apartment. When Mom found out, she told us to stay away - but, we didn't.

We saw our Aunt Emma Kingston (Dad's sister), visiting the aunts, one time. Her husband's name was Hyland, and they had a son Butchie, who looked just like his dad. We looked at them from afar - scared, but still wanting to know about our "Roots". They also had an adopted daughter Marilyn, who was about our age. We met her in Junior High School. She spread the rumor around that Irene and I were adopted; which really upset my Mom. Marilyn was the one who was adopted and my aunt hadn't told her - I don't know if she ever found out.

During these years, my Gramma Taylor was dying of cancer in the hospital. Aunt Emma came to the trailer and told my Mom that Gramma would like to see us before she died. Mom had never let us see any of the Taylor family, all those years. She thought it was a trick, so my Dad could get to see us - and didn't let us go to the hospital. It really hurt a lot of people, especially my Gramma, who I was always very close to. All my life, it was the memories of my time with Gramma Taylor, that kept me going. Through the divorce, Horace and his behavior, an unhappy home life where I turned to the woods for my sanity and peace; I always remembered my Gramma and our happy times together...the animals and everything she taught me of nature. I have to say that she left the greatest impact upon my life - her love for me sustained me.

About this time, my Aunt Evelyn Bonner (really my Mom's cousin), and her husband Francis, began coming to give us Christmas gifts and clothes. We didn't have anything when we first came from the farm in New York. Evelyn was always trying to help people; she messed up sometimes, but her heart was always in the right place. Uncle Francis worked double shifts on the railroad (engineer), for most of his life - and they had plenty of money, they had five children.

My Aunt Margaret (Gingras) Duval, my Mom's sister, who was my Godmother when I was baptized in the Catholic Church when I was 2 years old, began calling on us; she wanted to be sure I was being raised Catholic. There weren't any Catholic Churches where we lived in New York; I had never made my First Communion, which I should have done when I was about 7 years old - I was now 12 and the biggest one in my First Communion class. Another embarrassment.

First Communion comes after months of memorizing our catechism (a book of beliefs); we go to our first Confession (first); we say, "Bless me Father, for I have sinned; it has been...since my last confession." After we have confessed our sins to the priest (inside of a dark, little box - the priest sits in the middle, confessors are on either side of him - it's designed for our privacy), he then talks it over with us, and then absolves (forgives) us of our sin. He will tell us what to do for "penance", so many Our Father and/or Hail Mary prayers. Then, we say an Act of Contrition. "Oh, my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins because I dread the loss of Heaven and the pains of Hell. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance and to amend my life. Amen." Then we go up to the front of the church (altar) to say our "penance" prayers. Now, we are without sin and free to go to communion until we sin again.

As a practicing Catholic, we must go to confession at least once a year and also communion. We usually went about once a month, and communion every week, or more if we went to church. We also had to go to all the holy days of obligation, of which there were about 8 a year.

I had to attend catechism classes and the priest who taught my class, was Father Francis X. (Xavier) Dowd. A real closeness developed between us; I think he was a Father-figure to me. He called on me a lot of times to repeat prayers that we had to memorize. He stayed at St. Leo's Church for many years (priests are usually transferred regularly).

I think it was the following year that I made my Confirmation. Confirmation is when you are supposed to be filled with the Holy Ghost, equipped to do battle, and overcome sin. It's a ceremony when the regional Bishop comes to the church and we go up to the altar - he puts ashes on our forehead to remind us that we are, but human flesh, and then he lightly slaps our cheek to remind us of the hard time we must endure for the sake of the Catholic Church, we also got to kiss his bishop's ring. By then I was firmly entrenched into the Catholic Church - to the point of seriously considering becoming a Nun.


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