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MY 10th YEAR
June 9, 2015
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times....
I've been thinking a lot about my 10th year lately. It seems to have been my seminal year.
The thing is, I'm not sure if everything remember happening in my 10th year actually happened in that year, but there are just a lot of things that I have strong memories of happening when I was 10.
My mother took instructions and was baptized a Catholic when I was 10. I remember sitting in the park across the street from Old St. Mary's church in San Francisco with my father and sister while my mother was in classes. After she was baptized, my godmother, Babe Fourtner held a formal dinner for her. She was a very religious woman and a very proper woman and was shocked when Father Joe, who baptized my mother, sat at this beautiful table, (the sort with linen table cloth and napkins, candles and flowers in the center of the table, lots of forks and lots of glasses for different courses), and spent the evening putting pitted olives on his fingers with my sister, the two of them laughing. (Fortunately, he kept his Roman collar on during dinner, but as soon as he left the apartment it came off, revealing the plaid shirt underneath!)
I remember that Babe died when I was 10, though now I wonder if that was the same year my other was baptized. She had cervical cancer and I remember when my mother told me that she thought I was old enough to know that she was dying. Such a lovely lady. She had snow white hair from her 20s and a unique laugh that I can still hear in my head today. I never met her husband, my grandmother's cousin, who was district attorney for San Francisco. He died before I was born.
I saw A Star Is Born for the first time when I was 10 and fell in love with Judy Garland, an attraction that lasted for decades. Truth to tell, today it's not like it was before, but it sure lasted a long time.
I first read "The Black Stallion" when I was 10. My friend Stephen loaned me his copy and I loved the book so much that I devoured all of the rest of Walter Farley's books that I could find in the library. It started my love of books about animals, particularly about horses.
I was 10 when we first got a television. And the rest is history.
It is my memory that I was 10 years old when the Saulk vaccine became available. After years of being terrified that I would get polio, I didn't mind at all getting the injection because I knew it would prevent me from getting polio. Wikipedia says they actually did start testing the vaccine in 1953 and 54, but I suspect I might have been 11 or 12 before actually getting it since it was 1955 before they started widespread vaccinations. But in my mind, I have always remembered that I was 10.
I was 10 the first time a death hit me. It was Angelina, the wife of Angelo, the Greek grocer who owned the store near our house (he would let me buy cigarettes and bourbon for my father!). We were coming home from church when we saw a black wreath on the door of the grocery store. In my head, I heard an ominous chord, like you would hear in a movie. Was I really 10 when that happened? I don't know, but in my mind I was.
I was put on my first diet when I was 10. It was the last time I ever drank whole milk. For the weeks of my diet, I missed whole milk most of all, while I gagged down the skim milk but when I had lost all the weight, I discovered that whole milk now tasted too rich for me. I always drank skim milk after that. I remember feeling ashamed at being told by the doctor that I was fat and having to go on a diet. I remember the teasing by classmates, being told by my mother I was too fat to take ballet lessons. But really, how does a 10 year old get fat? Dessert was always a part of dinner (and woe to you if you decided you didn't want any because my father would be angry). The cookie jar was always full. We frequently had pancakes and hockies (fried bread dough) with butter for breakfast and, in season, corn on the cob dripping with butter along with our fried chicken with that crispy crust I loved so much. I had learned bad eating habits that have followed me all of my life by the time I was 10 years old.
I was 10 when they diagnosed my amblyopia (lazy eye blindness). I was too old to correct it. I have since read that if it is caught before the age of 10, there is a chance of correcting it, but it never occurred to me that anything was wrong. I just assumed that everybody had one good eye and one bad eye. I used to have to wear an eye patch in the evening over my good eye, hoping to strengthen the bad eye, but it never did any good and I have never had usable vision in my bad eye.
I was angrily accused of being a hypocrite when I was 10. I attended Mass every morning before school during Lent, but left after communion in order to get to school in time to have a donut and hot chocolate for breakfast before class. When my teacher discovered that I hadn't attended the FULL Mass, she called me a hypocrite in front of the whole class.
In my mind Age 10 seems to be the year when everything happened and, when I read back on the main things I remember, it seems that each of those things were things that had a major impact on the person I have become. It truly was a seminal year!
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