My Life Growing Up When I was a kid, I spent lots of time reading books, playing softball, and singing in a group I called The Honey Bees. I danced and sang to all the latest Motown Hits, with my sister Stephanie, my best friend Georgina and cousins from both sides of my family that lived near by; especially my cousin Necie. We meet 3 times a week at a place called, LaClaire Courts after School Center, located on the southwest side of Chicago, to practice.
At the age of 7, my sister Stephanie 6 and I, along with my best friend Georgina 8, and my cousin Necie 8; won 1st place at one of many Talent Shows held at the after school center on Friday nights, doing our interpretation of Diana Ross and the Supremes. The song we sang was Stop In The Name of Love. This surly was one of the greatest moments in my childhood.
We were all dressed up in our long red and white Christmas gowns, that’s what little girls wore back then, to our surprise before the show started Georgina’s mom even put rouge ( now called blush) and lipstick on our little faces, we had so much fun that night, when we took the stage we all felt like real Movie Stars. To this day we still remember how proud we felt, as everyone cheered us on, and how exciding it was to be all dressed up like ladies. Today we still talk about it at family gatherings. Absolutely! This is one of my favorite achievements as a child.
Growing up, I was lucky enough to live close to many first and second cousins, from both sides of my family. I played daily with my cousins, boys and girls, we enjoyed tea parties, played hopscotch and roasted potoes in the parrie behind our house; where my favorite auntie Betty, (my moms baby sister) lived near by with her family. I loved going to her house on weekends, with my cousin Beverly, to baby sit my younger cousins while auntie did her shopping. When she returned home, she would prepare one of our favorite meals, while we looked on.
My Auntie Betty, baked the best Peach Cobbler in the world, Babs and I, never ever could make that cobbler taste as good as Aunties, even after watching her make it for so many years. Between third and fourth grade, I moved far away from my cousins and auntie Betty, to a really nice house in a suburban city called Roseland Illinois. Even though I had my own bedroom now, filled with pretty new white furniture, and loved everything about my new home, it was just in the wrong neighborhood. No more tea parties with my cousins, no more after school practice with the Honey Bees.
I missed my family more, along with my old school mates. I felt so lonely. Most of junior high I worried too much about fitting in at the new school, and the new neighborhood and also about being one of the girls to play on the softball team, at a park not far from my new home. Things were so different now. I thought if I could just be picked to play on the team, at lease my sisters and I would be able to go to the park most days, because we had no family close by to visit, we were told not to ever ride our bikes off the block were we lived.
Growing up, my favorite books included, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, also The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, I always favored Finn, he was much nicer than Tom, the bully; and the fact that they both liked going bare foot, was a plus. I still take my shoes off any chance I get today. The Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum another, and Are You There God? It’s me Margaret, by Judy Blume. Like many women of my generation, I credit her with helping me survive the latter elementary grades, and junior high at Holy Rosary, going to Mass every morning before school started; and then to the Baptist Church on Sundays.
Yes eventually I did get new friends around my neighborhood, and at school, never did start another singing group, but my sister Stephanie joined a Tennis team and I played soft ball on the girl’s team 2 years at Palmer Park, although we didn’t win any championship games, the coach said that I was one of the best players he had ever coached. Growing up for me wasn’t always as I have dcribed it here, but I must say, these were some of the most mememble moments of my childhood, that were filled with plenty of faith, although confusing at times, family near and far, and pleleny of good friends.