One weekend Fred and his father were hired to work a large carnival, and Mom had to go along to help.
Early Saturday morning Mom, Fred, Brother and I left our house and piled in to Fred's truck. Our first stop was to the stables to load the ponies and mules in to horse trailers and then on to Long Beach to pick up the rest of the equipment and the workers. Then off we went to the carnival.
After the popcorn and candy machines had been set up, the animals harnessed to the wagons and ready to go, Mom wearily crawled in to Fred's truck to take a nap. Her chronic insomnia had not improved very much, and she was often exhausted and tried to sleep whenever she could.
Brother and I were left to wander around the carnival alone as usual.
As I walked around the carnival, I slowly weaved my way through the amusement rides, the ferris wheel, the merry-go-round, the Tilt-A-Whirl and the roller coaster. I stopped often to watch the kids on the rides screaming with laughter. I stood there silently wishing I had money to buy a ticket so I could join them.
Soon the intoxicating aroma of fried food, hamburgers, hot dogs, popcorn and corn dogs coming from the food trucks caught my attention, and my growling stomach painfully reminded me that I hadn't eaten breakfast that morning in Mom and Fred's haste to leave the house.
Suddenly I spotted a table laden with cupcakes, brownies, cookies and other baked goods. I absolutely loved sweets, and my mouth watered at the thought of sinking my teeth into one of those yummy treats.
As I stood there staring at the food, the lady behind the table asked me if I would like to buy something. Everything cost 15 cents.
"Let me go ask my Mom for some money," I said.
Slowly I walked back to the truck where Mom was sleeping trying to figure out a way to ask for money without getting yelled at. I knew she would be very angry if I woke her from her nap, but I was getting light headed from hunger and decided to take a chance.
When I got to the truck, I carefully opened the door. Mom was laying stretched out on the bench seat sleeping soundly.
"Mom, can I please have 15 cents so I can get something to eat? I'm hungry," I asked in a timid voice.
Mom groggily opened her eyes. When she saw me, anger distorted her features.
"Goddamn it, get out of here and let me sleep!" she yelled.
I closed the truck door and walked away.
Now what was I going to do? I couldn't ask Fred because if I bothered him while he was working, I knew I would get in big trouble later on.
I walked back to the table of baked goods and told the lady that my mom didn't have 15 cents.
"If you can get a penny, I will let you have a cupcake."
I stared at the lady in humiliation. I had no idea where I would get a penny.
"Can I please have something to eat? I'm really hungry," I said as I looked down in shame.
After a moment, the lady reached over and handed me a cupcake. After thanking her, I walked away gratefully eating my sweet treat.
At the end of the day, the animals and equipment were packed up, and Brother and I piled into the bed of one of the pickup trucks with the workers.
Cold and tired, I curled up under an old tarp for warmth and took a nap during the long and windy ride on the freeway back to the stables to drop off the animals.
- - -
I never told Mom about that cupcake because she would have been furious. Mom did not like beggars. At all.
Since Mom didn't like to cook, Brother and I did not get fed regular meals, and we were often hungry. When we would ask Mom for something to eat, her usual response was a vague, "Later." I patiently tried to wait until Mom got hungry so we could eat. I didn't want to make her mad.
Brother was not as patient as I was, and his cries for food got louder and louder and more persistent, and that made Mom very angry.
Turning to Brother, Mom yelled, “GODDAMNIT, STOP YOUR FUCKING BEGGING! What do you want from me? I owe you NOTHING!"
Not deterred by Mom's anger, Brother continued to cry for food. Finally in anger and frustration, Mom started slapping Brother repeatedly in the head until he was sobbing hysterically.
Hiccuping and trying to catch his breath, with tears streaming down his cheeks, Brother continued to cry for food.
"Oh, JESUS CHRIST!" Mom yelled, and she finally went and got us something to eat.
- - -
Brother and I were babysat by a very kind and loving woman named Marion Cox. Marion was a petite strawberry blond and wore glasses. She was a stay-at-home mom to her three children, LuAnn, Cheryl and Brian. We rarely saw her husband, David, since he worked during the day, but he was always kind to me and Brother when we did see him.
Brother and I spent a lot of time at Marion's house playing with her children during the school year and summer in the cul-de-sac where she lived. I was learning not to trust the adults around me, but I loved and trusted Marion.
After school Brother and I walked to Marion's house. Upon entering her house, often we would be greeted by the smell of freshly baked bread. My mouth watered at the thought of that soft, warm piece of bread with butter on it that would be waiting for me at the kitchen table.
To be continued….