We lived on Delsea Dr. in Vineland, NJ until I was six. At that time it was pretty much countrified. Every street was lined with beautiful dogwood trees, some of which were pink, but most of which were white. Our rented abode was a rather large white house perched on a little hill. It had this awesome covered porch that extended across the entire front of the house, where we used to play during the day, and later congregate on hot summer nights. The adults often refreshed themselves, with glass after glass of Gallo Port wine, while the kids cooled off with a pitcher of flavored Kool Aide. If we were really lucky, the wine could be our ally, and my parents would let us walk down to the gas station and each one could buy a Coke. For as long as I can remember we have always had an open door policy at our house. People came and went and sometimes they stayed for days, weeks, months, and some for years.. Such was the case with my Uncle Randy. To almost everyone who knew him he was a loveable, teddy bear of a guy. He was probably about 5’8″ and weighed in at a minimum of 300 lbs. He lived with us while in the Air Force, and later while going to college. He played the Ukulele, had a Washtub Band, and they used to practice at our house before going out on Friday Nights. As we roasted marshmallows in the fireplace, they could be heard leading us in songs such as “Does Your Chewing Gum Lose its Flavor On The Bedpost Overnight?”, “There was an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly”, “The Ballad of Davy Crockett”, “Sixteen Tons”, “Red Sails in the Sunset”, and many other favorites of the 50’s. It was a treat we looked forward to. Randy was also our babysitter when the rest of the adults in the house went out. He was like a big kid in some ways who loved playing pranks, and telling jokes.
Around this time, my father was working in engineering for RCA. During World War II and for some time beyond, RCA formed several new divisions gaining a Government contract working for the Defense department. This is the department my father worked in, and something about the secretive work he was doing made him uncomfortable enough to seek employment elsewhere. He began selling Life Insurance for Mutual of Omaha.
While we lived in the house on Delsea Dr., there was this devil of a boy named Butchy. He was at least two years older than I was ,and he had this great big evil looking dog that he used to tease me with. The minute I stepped out my back door, he would bring out this barking monster and chase after me. I learned to climb trees when I was just six.
My father, bless his heart, was a professional man who was totally in the dark when it came to fixing things, or being any kind of handyman at all. My parents purchased a swing gym for us to play on. It had a slide, two swings with rings that allowed you to stand and swing, as well as sit and swing, and a swinging seesaw. For a short while Butchy seemed to change. He would call and ask me to come out and play on the swings. He would bring me candy and be nice to me. Of course I would go out and play with him. I loved candy. He had not changed at all unless it was for the worse. If he wasn’t knocking me off the seesaw, scaring me up a tree requiring stitches, then he was trying to push me off the steps of the bus as I was getting on for school. One day this meant Butchy was fooling around on the steps and the bus driver did not see me behind him and closed the door of the bus and caught my right foot in the door and dragged me about fifteen feet before anyone realized anything was wrong. I had immediately gone into shock. That time I was a mess and had bruises and blood everywhere, and yes there were stitches once again. I could not w2ait for him to fall off the face of the earth. I prayed at night that he would move away.