Never Learned to Play a Musical Instrument

Growing up with a father in the Army brought us to live in various places. This was at Highland Park, Illinois, next to Fort Sheridan. I was very young but have some memories from it, especially Christmas. Most of what I remember on the long drive to Highland Park is stopping at a motel to spend the night. I can still see myself sitting on the bed in the hotel and remember Dad going out of the room for ice.

When we got to Highland Park, we moved into an upstairs apartment above a house. We had to use the outside stairs to go in and out of our apartment, however, sometimes I would sneak out from our inside door and peek down the inside stairs. Once when I did this, I fell down the stairs. I never did that again!

We lived about 4-5 blocks from beautiful Lake Michigan and mom took us to the beach there. I was three years old at this time and I can remember playing at the beach and the waves. I recall Mom taking photos of Glenn and me at the beach, but if she did take pictures, I have not been able to find the photos. She might have lost the film, or the photos didn’t come out well. The important thing is I can still see it in my mind.

Fort Sheridan was also just a few blocks away and Dad said he often walked to work to leave the car with Mom. The briskness of the area, along with the houses was so different than back home, but of course, it was much colder in Highland Park than it was in Opelousas. Wherever we lived, it felt different. Not better or worse, just different.

When we lived away, it was just us, and wherever we lived, we got to experience food, things, and places we wouldn’t usually have gotten to experience; however, as I got older, I missed not having roots and being with family.

For Christmas that year, two of my presents were a toy piano and a large doll. I plunked around with it for a bit but in truth, I never learned how to play any musical instrument. The only “instrument” I can play, and I can play it very well, is the stereo. The doll was almost as big as me and I would sleep with my doll. Mom took a picture of me sleeping with my doll, which was as big as me. She had a short haircut with her dark hair. I don’t remember the doll after we left Highland Park, so I must not have had her long however, she is a fond memory of my childhood.

The dress in the picture was a velvet purple my grandmother sent me. Glenn’s clothes were probably from her, too. My grandmother sent us packages often, usually with clothes, when we lived away from our home in Opelousas, Louisiana.

An older couple lived in a stone house next to us. When their grandchildren would visit them, they would come out to play with Glenn and me. The girls were probably three to five years older than me and they would get flowers to put in my hair. Some of my treasured pictures were ones that Mom captured of me and those girls.

I remember watching the show Kids Say the Darnedest Things with Art Linkletter. Strange that I don’t remember much about Glenn in the apartment but I remember us playing outside. The neighbor’s grandson would let us play in his little pool. I have a picture of the three of us in the pool from the summer we lived there.

While driving to Michigan several years ago to visit my stepdaughter Colleen, my husband, Larry, and I side-skirted and went to Highland Park to see the house where I lived.  It was what I remembered, but smaller. As I looked around the lawn between that and the stone house next to it, I envisioned Glenn and me playing outside and playing with the children. Since my memories of there had grown dim through the years, being there brought my memories alive and vivid again. It was enlightening.