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Creative Nonfiction Kids American

12/1/2023


                                                                                                                                                               Carol Anne Martin

        610 G Street # 10

        Chula Vista Ca. 91910

        (619) 424-9302

        xxxCarolMartinxxx@gmail.com


Prompted

Reedsy Prompts                                                                                           2480 words

Dear Editors,


               This is a non-fiction memoir for #227 Snowed Under. The title is “Snow in Summerville”. I have a Master's degree in Social Work (MSW) from SDSU. I worked with mentally ill adults and senior citizens for fifteen years. I also worked in a drug rehab program. I am a retired, disabled, baby boomer. I have three children and 11 grandchildren, and I cherish each and every one of them. I grew up in Rochester, New York, and I’ve never been published. I’ve lived in California for about 45 years, and I miss the change of seasons in Rochester, and the first snow is forever etched in my mind. I hope you enjoy the story.


                                                                                                                         Sincerely,

                                                                                                                      Carol A. Martin


Snow in Summerville

By Carol Martin

It was early morning and there was a chill in the air. As I quickly got dressed for school I could see through my window that it was snowing. It was the first snow of the season, something you don't want to miss. The site of everything white and glistening is like living in a fairy tale. Everything was quiet and calm as the delicate flakes fell gently from the sky. Then, there was a clang from my mother banging pots in the kitchen and the shrill voices of my siblings resounding down the hall! Its mesmerizing effect was broken. I only had a moment to relish it, but I had to keep moving or I'd be late for school.

There’s a feeling of excitement at the beginning of every season. The winters in New York are long and the summers are short, but we kids liked being outside year-round. In the Fall we would collect chestnuts, and play kickball. In the winter the lake would freeze over and the different formations and shapes were a marvel to behold. It was like being on another planet. When we walked on the ice it was hypnotic in a way. It was like something strange was calling us out further and further. We wanted to see more of what was beyond the next frozen wave. Lake Ontario is one of the five Great Lakes, and more like a sea than a lake except it's fresh water. In Lake Ontario alone there have been sixty shipwrecks due to treacherous storms. One year our friend fell through the ice. I ran for help, but people were already on the way. We heard that she was ok. She later told us that the water only came up to her neck, but she couldn’t get herself out. She was the tallest girl in the neighborhood, a blessing that day. After that, I was a bit more cautious, when I walked on the ice.

My favorite memories were in Summerville. We moved there in 1965. Lake Ontario was half a block away from our house. The neighbors were friendly and so were the kids. My sister and I got rooms of our own, and we were delighted. The rooms were small and there was only room for one single bed, and no dresser, but the size didn’t matter to us. We were ecstatic about having our own space! Our new home was a long narrow four-bedroom cottage. Most of the cottages were built like that, but there was one house at the end of the street that was different from all the others. It was a Victorian-style house that was owned by Miss Haze. She had the nicest yard in the neighborhood, and she was only there two weeks out of the year. The lawn was well-kept with meticulous edging along winding sidewalks, and bushes with flowers that adorned the place. There was a porch that wrapped around the house, but we never went on the porch or anywhere near the house. We had respect and appreciation for her property, but we couldn’t resist running through her yard on occasion. In the corner of the spacious yard was an intriguing trellis covered in vines and foliage. It was made of wood slats, had three tall walls, and was like a secret garden. The house overlooked a hill covered in thick shrubs, and beyond that was the lake. We would crawl through the cubby holes which were pathways made by previous children that led down to the beach. At the foot of the hill was a huge weeping willow tree with a thick rope hanging from it and a big knot on the bottom. We could get two to three kids swinging on the rope at the same time. It became a meeting place. We built a fort in the tree, which was just a wooden platform. My sister fell off the platform once and had the wind knocked out of her. I could hear the thud when she landed in the sand. She couldn’t get up right away, and I was relieved when a grownup came to check on her and assured us she was ok. I think there were always some adults watching us, but we weren’t aware of it. Sometimes people just came out of the blue.

Swimming is what I liked most of all about Summerville. My mother taught us all how to swim in the lake. One time I swam out kind of far in the lake, and some lady came up from behind me and grabbed me. It freaked me out. She asked me if I was alright. I said yes, and she let me go. I couldn't get away quick enough and was annoyed. I was a good swimmer with endless energy, and I was not drowning. I just had poor form. She could have swum up next to me, but I never saw her coming, and it was creepy. The same lady came into our house one night when my parents weren’t home. They worked nights. We were all in bed, and I pretended to be asleep. She looked in each room and then left. I told my mom about it, and she thought it was weird. She may have been a nice lady, but she overstepped her boundaries. She invited us, over to her house one time to do art. I was somewhat hesitant, but my friends eagerly followed her into the house; so I ventured in as well and just observed. Two of my younger siblings were in there and my instinct obligated me to keep an eye on them. I was the oldest of six children. We got in trouble because we were supposed to be home when the street lights came on, and we were late. Our stepfather, Charlie, showed up at the lady’s house and didn't bother to knock on the door or talk to the lady. He just yelled at us from the street to get home. There were no sidewalks there. He was angry, and as we passed him he was swatting at us, but he missed me. I was too quick for him. It got dark earlier as the winter season was coming.

We had a blizzard in 1966 that had us snowed in. When we awoke, I was surprised to see the amount of snow outside. It was a beautiful sight! My mother was up with the baby in her arms. We didn’t have heat, so competing for space we warmed ourselves near the oven. I waited until the kids sat for breakfast and warmed my undershirt before putting it on. Mom made our morning oatmeal, and we got ready for school. As we were about to leave, we couldn’t get the door open because it was blocked by snow; so I climbed out a window, and my little brother followed me out. I was surprised to see that the snow had shifted up to the window sill. My mother made a phone call, and shouted- “No school today!” The roads were closed and not passable, and the school bus would not be coming. We were delighted! Mom needed our help getting the door opened, but the rest of our day was free. We met our friends and headed for the beach. The lake was frozen, and because of the strong winds, the formations were extraordinary. Everyone pitched in to make paths in the snow; so we could play (Chase the Fox). It was a game-like tag with safe zones. Some kids went sledding a few blocks away, so we went home to get some cardboard boxes which worked better than sleds. We flew down that hill! When we got home we found out that school would be closed for the rest of the week. We were apparently in a (State of Emergency). Only mothers with babies could buy milk. The roads were still impassable, and deliveries could not be made. I spent the next few days shoveling snow and scraping snow and ice off people’s cars. I was paid one dollar per car, and two dollars for an entire driveway. My mother spent a lot of time knitting hats with tassels and mittens to match. We would sell them door to door at Christmas time for five dollars a set. Mom taught us all how to knit including my brothers.

The week went by fast. I had to help my mother a lot with store runs and household chores. I liked having my mother’s approval. It was my only way to compete for attention. My sister and I washed clothes in the tub with a scrubboard. We didn't have a washing machine. There were only cloth diapers back then, and there were always dirty diapers in a pail. After washing them, my sister would hold one side of the diaper, while I held the other side, and we twisted them in opposite directions to ring them out. They were easier to ring out than other clothing items. The towels were the hardest. Mom hung them outside and said the sun sanitized them. In the winter the diapers would freeze stiff.

Spring came, and I lay in my bed with the window open enjoying the warm weather and watching the squirrels play in the trees. I wrote a story that was published in the newspaper. It was about a sad dog that was adapting to the new leash law. My teacher had it published with my picture in the newspaper. It inspired me to continue writing. We lived in Summerville for three years, and it was the best part of my childhood. My sister feels the same. Getting out of the city and being near the lake was special, but it was the people there who made it memorable. Unfortunately, we had to move back to the city.

Once we settled in our new home in the city my sister and I decided to go swimming at a public pool and we were groped by some boys. I wanted to give it a second try, but my sister refused to go; so I went by myself. It was a mistake. There was nowhere else to go swimming in the city and it was illegal to swim in the river. My friends dared me to go swimming in the canal, but I only went one time. I convinced my friend Amy to swim with me. We both jumped in as the other kids watched. I didn't dive in because of a story my mother once told me.

'My mom and her friends used to swim in a canal in Scranton, PA. She grew up there on a chicken farm. They dove off a bridge, and one guy dove right through a dead cow and came up screaming and covered in maggots. She said there were all kinds of things in canals like old cars and whatnot'.

The story didn't deter me from swimming in the canal, only diving in it. Things didn't go well that night. Amy was not a strong swimmer; she got swept away by a current, so I had to swim for her and get her out. I swam under her and kept pushing her up toward the side of the canal. I knew if she got her hands on me, we would both drown.

I took up a new pastime inspired by a song called "Downtown" by Nancy Sinatra. It used to cost 10 cents to get on a bus and go downtown. It was a place to go with no worries or cares. The first time I went was on a Saturday and mom was home; so I didn't have to babysit the kids that day. I was 12 years old and went by myself, and it felt like an adventure. There weren't many people on the bus, and it was a pleasant ride. The Genesee River ran straight through the center of the city, and there was a sizable waterfall there. When I got off the bus, I started window shopping. There were marvelous displays of glittery things and beautiful clothing on manikins with all kinds of accessories. Each window was like a work of art, frequently changing with the changing seasons or the arrival of new merchandise. I thought one day I'd be able to go in and buy something. We had all the well-known department stores like Sibley's, Foreman's, and McCurdy's. There were also a lot of small businesses and a constant flow of people.

Business was good and Midtown Plaza was the place to be. It was an indoor mall opened in 1962 and it was eighteen stories high. I would later get a waitress job at "Top of The Plaza," which was a fancy restaurant on the fourteenth floor, with windows that extended from the floor to the ceiling. During the lunch hour models would walk around advertising clothing from McCurdy's Department store. In the center of the mall was a huge clock of Nations. It was like a carousel with twelve elaborate rotating structures. Every hour (year-round), they would all open up and display electronic marionettes. Each hour it would play a tune from a different country. There was also a beautiful water fountain there, a garden with a giant Tiki, and Native American Indian art on the walls. In December, they brought in many small pine trees and one huge Christmas tree reaching the second floor. Every year they would assemble Magic Mountain, an enormous structure painted to look like glistening snow with a throne at the top for Santa Claus. There was a Monorail for kids to ride and spectacular decorations everywhere the eye could see, with a splendor not matched by any other mall of its time.

That first day on my way home, while waiting for the bus, it began to snow. It was the first snow of my first winter back in the city. The snowflakes were softly fluttering as they made their way down and promptly melted when they landed on the pavement. It was different downtown where the snow would never look white because of the traffic and the tall buildings. But I still felt excited because it was the beginning of a new season. The first snow is like many other firsts in life. Sometimes you don’t want it to end, but it will and it must, or you won’t get to experience what life has to offer around the next bend. My grandmother once told me the secret to life is to keep moving and she was right. "On July 29, 2008, Midtown Plaza closed its doors to the public for the last time, as scheduled." Wikipedia.org. There are photos of it online. It was sad, but life is constantly changing. It's important to enjoy the present moment because when it's gone, it's gone.

December 02, 2023 07:39

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2 comments

Mary Bendickson
18:12 Jan 30, 2024

Thank you for liking and commenting on my story 'All for Science'. I liked your one word comment. I usually make very short comments myself. The story was out of the norm for me. I chose to read this story of yours because I, too, am a baby boomer. My husband traveled to different locations for his career and we spent over a year near Rochester, NY a few years ago. A small town named Webster. Must be close to Summerville? Think we passed by that famous closed down mall with the carousel in Rochester. Enjoyed your reminiscent story. My experi...

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Carol Martin
16:34 Dec 09, 2023

Snow in Summerville is a non-fiction story about my favorite childhood memories. With so many unpleasant things happening in current times, I thought it would be nice to write about something positive. The setting is in New York on Lake Ontario which is one of the five Great Lakes. There's a contrast between the first snow and a blizzard big enough to sink ships. There have been sixty shipwrecks in Lake Ontario alone. There is also a contrast between city life and suburban life.

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