Mother had sold our home. Father had moved to NYC to work. And we vacated our little apartment and began our journey. Dan and I piled into mother’s 1959 Chevy Impala with some clothes and we left for Pocatello Idaho. Actually, to the outskirts of Pocatello known as Alameda County. We pulled into the drive of a brick home sitting on the corner of Jane St.. We got out of the car and were brought inside where Dan and I met our ‘new’ family. Larry Adams and his two daughters Peggy (13 yrs old) and Mary Jane (9 yrs old). I am not sure how I actually remember this moment. The general memory was one of amazing confusion. And not just for Dan and I. Peggy was hostile and Mary Jane was shy and quiet. Dan is simply lost in this vision as I am sure he just quietly found his way through the house while absorbing everything being said.
It wasn’t long until we all found a rhythm, everyone except Peggy, The two girls had just lost their mother, and Larry his wife. I know nothing about how or why she died. What I was sure though was Peggy hated my mother. I was barely nine years old and was way more interested in making friends and finding a new life far from LA.
It was the dead of winter when we arrived. I had a BB gun my aunt had taken away from my cousin Jerry before he hurt himself or someone else, and had given it to me. I loved that gun. I shot it everyday. My first hunting trip into the wilds across the street from our house was amazing. Dressed in a large coat and lace up Tuffy boots I trudged up the adjacent hill to the plateau. It was covered in fresh white snow and I was awestruck. Danny was with me, but again, I do not remember what his reaction might have been.
As I scanned the expanse of endless white, I saw the birds trying to feed from below the snow. We snuck up and I took aim and squeezed the trigger. There was a plop sound and the birds rose in unison. All but the one I had hit. I do not remember feeling anything but excitement. I was excited and I ran to the bird but it wasn’t dead. I cocked my pump action Daisy rifle and took aim to finish it off. But, before I could squeeze off the copper ball of death, Danny stopped me. He was sad and wanted to take the bird home and fix him. That was Danny. When father used to take us fishing, when we were pretty young, Danny cried when the fish bled and died. I knew this about him, so I let him put the bird in his pocket to keep it warm. We scaled the slippery decent like pioneers and got home with bird which went ahead and died that night. My first kill.
I remember being so excited about our new home. I had a family again and Danny was there with me. Danny struggled in school. He never changed and spent his life in the shadows all the way through High School. He was odd and the bully’s alway gyrated towards the easy mark. I on the other hand, I had become quite the talker. This side of me appeared early in my life and I am not sure why. I was about ten when my father took us to meet his father for one of our visits. His name was Pop Sheffield. That’s the only first name I ever knew. He had spent fifty years working on a Southern Pacific freight train that traveled to Texas and back to California. He was a fireman on the train and he drank whisky and played cards on those long runs. Because he never stopped talking the others began to call him Victrola and it stuck. So that is who I must have inherited this gift of the gab.
Once we were enrolled in the local elementary school, I began making friends easily. I took to the ice skates like we were one. At Christmas, that first year, Larry added to the skates he had given me. I woke up to find a pair of turquoise blue wooden skis and bamboo polls. Danny received a set too. This was impossible. I could never have seen my mother offering to send me out to injure myself on skis. But Larry had a twinkle in his eyes and was delighted to see my enthusiasm. Soon, we were at the little ski park. It had two rope tows. I had never seen any type of ski lift in my life. Larry told me to grab the top loop that was heading toward the top. He also said let go at the top. I fell and got my skis trapped under the ropes which were holding them down. After a while I had it under control and I began making the short decline to the bottom. By the end of the day I was jumping off little jumps the other kids had made, When the sun went down all the kids would drink five cent hot chocolate and eat ten cent hot dogs and then put on their skates and play, until the adults arrived to take us home. I began to love Larry and Mary Jane. I never did understand Peggy. Larry was an outdoors man. My father lived in an office and took two vacations every year.