not keeping the abuse a secret

a child-sexual-abuse survivor's blog


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hard chain to break

I’m single.  Not in a relationship.  (For, years and, years.)  So, my son has urged me to try online dating avenues.

This is the thing.

What being sexually abused as a child does to a woman… — What being sexually abused by an older brother you used to look up to, does to a child… — What seeing your father r-e-g-u-l-a-r-y steer your sisters into his bedroom to sexually abuse them does to one… — What being roofied and raped as an adult does to a woman — What being raped by a guy you meet in a club and make the mistake of inviting home does to a woman…

Gosh, how to say this?

Um, there’s a lack of trust that ensues??  (Righteously so, folks.)  (Common-sense logically so.)  (Like, one would have to be an idiot or, severely dissociative [<- Been there, too…] to “trust normally?”  I mean, C’mon.)

cartoon, your worst fear, by matt bors--fr dailykosDOTcom
Your Worst Fear
Not all men.  Just some.”
— Matt Bors cartoon.
Find political cartoonist Matt Bors on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/mattbors ,
on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MattBors .

 Hard chain to break…


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“all he thinks about is sex,” complains my aunt to me one day

I’m 13; and, we’ve returned from Memphis; and, we are living with my mom’s sister Tanis & her three kids-still-at-home; and, Aunt Tanis & my father take an afternoon drive one day to return saying, they’ve married; and, a month?, two months? later, my aunt more sensibly gives my father the boot.

“All he thinks about is sex,” complains my aunt crankily to me one day as she heads up the townhouse stairs to her room, glass of whiskey in hand.  “Sex sex sex!” she sputters.

Wow.  “And he molests Sally & Sharon and he used to molest me,…” I venture.

“Well I don’t know anything about that,” Aunt Tanis says.  “But he shouldn’t beat you like I saw with my own eyes and if you want to go up to Social Services and report him I’ll back you up.  You could get foster home placement.”

I could get what?  I am stunned.  What is Social Services?  (What’s a foster home?)  Wait a minute — I don’t have to live with my father?!?

“You mean I wouldn’t have to live with Buck?!” I exclaim.  (Explanatory note:  at our house there was no “Father,” or, “Daddy,” or, “Dad;” the sibs & I had instead, a “Buck,” our father preferring this nickname over Father/Daddy/whatever, which, he said, made him feel old.)

“Nope,” says Aunt Tanis emphatically.  She drank too much but, this was my favorite aunt, and, I admired that she worked and supported three kids by herself.  She seemed “smart.”  I trusted that she might indeed know what she was talking about here.

And so, I learned where Social Services was located, walked in there one day, met with a staff-person, and spilled.

Everything:  Buck’s sexual abuse of us, Paul’s sexual abuse of us, Buck’s physical abuse of us, the horrors of Memphis — from endless sexual molestation to waking to choke-holds in the middle of the night to Buck dumping poor Philip’s remaining food over his head when he didn’t finish his dinner to being left without adequate groceries while Buck was up north visiting our aunt to… — every single thing.  I’d held it all inside for so long, convinced that the other grown-ups out there were just as potentially dangerous as my father:  no refuge to be had:  be abused in your own home, or, be abused by strangers.

~~~

I wanted to live with Aunt Tanis.  My cousin Jaci, Aunt T.’s youngest daughter, pretended to want same and to be working to facilitate this but, I learned way into adulthood, in reality she had adamantly nixed it.  (“I was finally getting into the popular crowd!  It would have just ruined everything if you’d lived with us,” Jac explained far in the future.)

I was placed with my mom’s brother’s family.

~~~

The shocker is, — well, to me it’s always been a shocker — a social worker interviewed the sibs in my father’s presence.  Fearing for their lives, they denied any & all abuse.

Sally & Sharon & Philip would live with Buck for several more years to come.

Me, I would leave for Uncle Edward’s house, the first of four foster homes.


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little brides of Christ & the girl in the basement

I went to a Catholic school called Blessed Sacrament in first and second grades.  I loved it.  I don’t have any of the mean-nun memories so joked about.  The only scary part for me was when we were to have our first communion, be little brides of Christ as the nuns smilingly called it.

First Communion Class, Holy Redeemer, 1958 Madison WI

Wisconsin State Historical Society photo:
1958 Holy Redeemer Communion Class, Madison, WI

This terrified me.

So much so that, I was good and sick on the day I was to celebrate my own first communion with my Blessed Sacrament classmates.  Somehow, I was aware that brides “do married things” in bed with their husbands, and, I wanted no part of it.  Flat-out scared to death, I started the morning vomiting and got a reprieve.

Why was I so frightened?  OF, exactly, what?  (What did a 1950s seven-year-old know about “things” married couples do in bed?)

Christ or no Christ, I just knew I wanted no part of any brides-&-husbands script.

~~~

Memories from my first couple of years of elementary school include this particularly bizarre one:  I am with my father at the home of a friend of his.  The friend has just shown my father something in his basement, me in tow via my father’s hand, and we are walking back upstairs.  (I don’t know how old I am — somewhere between five and, seven?  Eight, tops — but I am young enough that, to hold my father’s hand, I have to reach upwards.)  The stairs are adjacent to the concrete basement wall and my father is on the side nearest the wall.  In my unobstructed right field of vision, I see a naked little girl tied to a vertical pole or column.  I can still “see” me climbing the stairs, a surprised me catching sight of her there, a rope going from her right wrist to around a concrete column or, pole.

“Why is that little girl tied up there without any clothes on?” I ask my father.

“Mind your own business,” he says.

Fade out.


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paul

When we moved from the the big two-story house on Knickerbocker Street to the smaller ranch-style house on Caldy Place, our huge dining table was relegated to the Caldy basement.

There was no way that dining table could fit in our tiny Caldy kitchen.

But I had happy memories of all my birthday parties celebrated ’round that table; and, days spent sitting there cutting out paper dolls and clothes for them; and, lots of coloring with my sisters — I loved that table! Beautifully-grained wood, rectangular, and, big enough to sit, gosh, a minimum of eight adults or, even more children?! It made me smile just to look at it.

I was either not quite eight years old, or, had just turned that age when we moved from Knickerbocker Street. Sally was 18 months under me, and, Sharon, about two years under her: roughly, eight, six, and four, we were. (Phil was yet a baby; Pete, at about 11 and allowed more independence, tended to be out playing with his friends.) So, when Mom did laundry down there in the basement on our ringer washer, we girls would sit at the big table and color, play with dolls, or whatever, sunlight streaming down on us through the casement windows.

ringer washer_2Stock photo, ringer washer circa 1950s.

It was a lovely time, and as time went on and we made friends in this, our new neighborhood, “everyone” wanted to come to our house on days too cold or rainy to play outdoors, to gather and play at the giant table.

Until Paul.

Paul was the younger of our two oldest brothers — at least nine, 10 years older than myself — and his “room” for some reason became a corner of the basement under the stairs, and I would come to dread the place I had loved best in our house on Caldy.

A dictionary says dread means “great fear or apprehension,” synonyms including “fear, apprehension, trepidation, anxiety, worry, concern, foreboding, disquiet, unease, angst; more.” Yup — that about sums up how I came to regard Paul in the basement.

It started with me coloring at the table and him, sprawled on his 1950s “Hollywood bed,” saying most warmly, “Would you like a hug?” Well, what little kid doesn’t like a nice hug?

“Sure,” I’d smile and he’d go, “C’mere,” holding out his arms all nice.

Then the hugs turned into, “Let’s cuddle for a little while,” and he’d pull me close and soon he was holding a Playboy magazine in front of us, his free hand wandering into my underwear.  He would want me to touch him, pull my hand to his genitals, all the time pointing out this photo in Playboy, that cartoon, making lewd comments.

I did not like this, I did not like him. I would try to get away but he was strong. It was hard to escape.

Soon, I avoided that basement at all costs unless my mother was down there with me, but, perhaps because she was dying of leukemia and, probably needed an assist around the house, and, in one of those unrealized bad-choice happenstances Paul had been designated her “helper,” we younger kids were told we were supposed to “mind” him. So a lot of times he would insistently yell upstairs to me from his basement domain where he resided like some truly awful particularly dreadful evil giant (six feet four) hiding under a bridge (the basement stairs), “Come here a minute,” and I would “have to” go see what he wanted, even though I anxiously knew.

One time I distinctly remember saying to him, “Stop or I’m going to tell Mom,” at which he laughed and said, “Go ahead. I’ll just tell her you’re lying, and who’s she going to believe?! Me, because I’m older.” And what did he do shortly after that but, set me up one night, telling Mom I’d done some this-or-that naughty — which I had not — and, what happened? She believed him, disregarded my protests of innocence, and I was sent to bed without supper.

This went on until one summer day when I simply left the house after breakfast and did not come home until suppertime — when my father would be home and when Paul let me be — and that marked my new daily pattern. (Did my mother know what was going on? I do not know, but it seems odd to me, now that I’ve been a parent myself, that she allowed me this all-day “freedom,” only asking that I return at the sound of the cowbell she rang evenings to call us all in to dinner.)

I did get hungry during the day, so I would eat apples and pears from the wild orchard across the street; carrots pulled from people’s gardens, brushing the dirt off them with my hands; a tomato here & there from same; young corn-on-the-cob, whole. I’d drink at neighborhood water bubblers, of which there seemed numerous back in those days. I’d eat wild raspberries and blackberries, and there was an edible clover I liked that I called “eating clover.”

There was a home with several horses in the neighborhood and I liked to feed the horses apples, sitting on their fence, my hand held flat. I would “explore” wooded areas; play in the fields; climb trees; run through cow pastures; catch frogs in drainage pipes; play at construction sites. I loved it — I had a good time.

But throughout, I did wish that I could go home during the day if I wanted; that I had a choice. And I envied the kids who could.

I was like a wild child, raised by wolves.

~~~

In adulthood I learned that in addition to me, Paul had molested my two sisters as well, plus a neighbor of ours around Sally’s age.  Little girls, all.

Why?!?

~~~

In my 40s, following my emotional breakdown and quite a lot of therapy with Carol-the-A+-excellent trauma therapist, I gathered up the courage to write and mail a letter to my brother Paul.  I wanted monetary compensation — I was seeing Carol once- to twice-weekly.  I could not work.  This was the least Paul could do as far as I was and am concerned, statutes of limitations in my state having left him free from any & all criminal charges, penalties.

His response:  no apology, no words of shame or regret; he simply had a lawyer reply to my send and point out, you guessed it, statutes of limitations.

I am, yet & still, majorly proud of myself that I was able to write and mail that letter.


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memphis, part 4 of 4

Next stop, the duplex on the corner, about a mile & a half from Graceland, empty lot filled with dandelions across the street, blacktopped street in front.

Where my sisters would completely stop being my sisters and become instead, helpless zombies of their master our father. Where I would resist our father with an iron will yet pay for it regularly and learn to internalize all emotions lest they appear on my face where he would become enraged at their judgment, assessment of him.  Where the childhood of my youngest brother/sibling, Phil, would for all practical purposes come to a halt.  Where older brother Pete, my sometimes protector and only “ally,” would run away from home.

As I write this my body fidgets and I find my head turning here, there, in avoidance, wanting to look anywhere but at my laptop screen and keyboard, all these decades later.

Fight or flight response.  All these decades later.

The monster is dead — 2002 — but still he has power over me, although much-much less after 20 years of therapy with a thankfully-excellent trauma therapist.

~~~

In the duplex our father shared a bedroom once more with Pete and Phil.  One bed.  I think there might also have been an overstuffed chair in there that one of the three used as a bed.

My two sisters and I shared the other bedroom.  One bed, the three of us sleeping together.

I can’t remember the early days but once Pete ran away it pretty much went like this:  our father would come into our room in the middle of the night and “select” one of my sisters to take back to bed with him.  Me, I had loudly & resolutely fought him off one night during the last nine months? year? of my mother’s life, whereupon he irritatedly got out of my top bunk bed and simply climbed down into one of my sisters’ lower ones.  (“Leave them alone!” I had then shouted, him furiously shushing me.  “Leave them alone!!,” louder this time.  More ornery shushing.  “It’s okay, Susan,” one of my sisters had said.  I was beside myself.  It’s okay?!  “No, it is not okay, tell him no!  There’s three of us and only one of him!”  I was ready to take him on physically with their help; he may have been built like a big-chested silverback gorilla, but at the 10-years-old I was at the time, I fancied that the wrestling & boxing techniques my brother Pete had taught me would, with our numbers advantage, carry us through.)

It was the most awful, most helpless feeling that I could not stop his evening forays into our bedroom.  For his prey.  My sisters.  Willing him away or, for a hero to rescue us, I would say Our Fathers and Hail Marys until I finally drifted off to sleep, but still the next night and the next and the next, he would come.

Weekends, when he was off work, both girls spent pretty much the entire weekend in his bedroom.  As did poor Phil.

Other than that, my memories of those 12 months in Memphis while we lived in the duplex are incomplete, lacking chronogical cohesiveness:  they’re more like a stack of photos tossed in the air that fall to the ground in random order.

One memory has my father coming out of his bedroom in only hole-ridden, saggy white briefs, walking to the bathroom.  A similar snapshot-memory is of my father coming out of his bedroom nude, walking to the bathroom.  Sometimes, in both “outfits,” also strolling around the duplex.

Often he was drunk.  Much of the time he was angry.  He would frequently become angry with me, for, looking like my mother:  he’d drunkenly assault me for dying — “You bitch!” — and, leaving him “with all these kids,” pinning me against a wall with a forearm against my throat ’til I thought I would suffocate.

Or he’d say out of the blue, “Wipe that look off your face,” and, unable to make my face blank enough to appease him, I’d be told by a growling him that he could kill me without leaving a mark.  “I could kill you so they’d never know what happened,” he once bragged.  “Ever hear of burking?”  I had not, at 11, no.  But I did know that flattery was effective with my father, and I was learning “managing him,” so at this I murmured, “I bet you could.  You’re strong,” and he smiled, laughed, said yes, well, that was true, and I was on good ground again.

‘Til the next time.

He was fond of waking me up in the middle of the night to a choke-hold around my neck, my feet dangling above the ground.

Memory snapshot:  I am with my father at Vanucci’s restaurant & bar.  (He liked to take me for company.  I liked to go because, if he wasn’t at home he wouldn’t be able to molest the kids.)  “Have something to eat,” he says.  “Great Italian food here.”  I smile, “No thank you.  Just coffee please.”  Not because I was not hungry — we were always hungry, so much so that for the most part I didn’t even feel hunger pains anymore — but because, it felt unfair to the kids unless he would also get some to go for them, and he would not.

Food seemed luxurious:  we simply got that little of it.  (First official foster home I lived in, when I could nonchalantly slip one into a pocket?, I took dinner rolls to bed with me the first few weeks…  I felt like Heidi.)

Sometimes Phil would cry when he was hungry.  I would die a little more inside.  Helpless.  I hated feeling, so helpless.

Except for Pete, we were not allowed to leave our house unless to school, with our father, or to our fenced-in side yard.  Even though I was now in 7th grade and then, eighth.

Once, before Pete ran away, a neighbor boy he was playing basketball in the boy’s driveway with, asked if I could come play too.  My father said no.

We had only one or two changes of clothes.  The kids, no toys to play with.  No raincoats, no outerwear like cold-weather coats?  We just got wet on the way to school if it was raining.  We got colds and, “tonsillitis” (per my father’s diagnosis), a lot.

“Was it really that awful?,” I’ve actually been asked by a few people over the years.  “I mean, weren’t there fun times in there too that you’re maybe forgetting?”

I find questions/comments like that so stunning that I am usually left mouth-open speechless by them, which a few people have equally stunningly taken to mean, I am acknowledging that, Yes, blush blush, there were fun times too, what a whiney girl I’m beingAre we kidding?

Y-e-s:  it was rEally, that awful.

~~~

Then one dark night when our-neighbors-the-duplex owners were away — coincidence?  I don’t know — our father says, “Put your things in the car, we’re leaving.”

“Leaving for where??”

“Back home.  Wisconsin.”  No explanation.

Oh happy day.

In my mind’s eye I can still see lights illuminating snow-covered Madison the evening Gertrude crested a hill and the city came into view.  It looked  s o  w o n d e r f u l.

~~~

Although I didn’t know it then, I would only be living with my father for a couple more months.  My sisters & Phil?  For several more years before Social Services would wake up/take action to what I had already, three years earlier, told them was going on.

And then?  This is hard to even write:  Social Services would place my sisters in the custody of yet another family pedophile — my 2nd oldest brother Paul — in spite of, what I had already, those same years earlier, told them was going on.

Phil would live in 12 different foster homes yet nevertheless take his aged father in when the old man needed assisted-living care in his 80s.


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memphis, part 3

Two bites of a Little Pig Barbecue sandwich would come to seem a nice dinner compared to the occasional none at all we’d experience over the next 18 months or our father’s picking dandelion greens from the field across the street, stirring them into a pot of Van Kamp Pork & Beans ’til the mixture heated through, and not only calling that dinner but, adding that we were ungrateful little bastards for not appreciating this “southern delicacy” he’d prepared for us.

~~~

One of the first things I remember us doing on one of our first Memphis days together as a family was, my father driving us along Beale Street — Home of the blues, he said proudly; Home of jazz, he beamed –and then, driving through/amidst, a Civil Rights protest of segregated lunch counters in downtown Memphis.

This was Fall, 196o; prime-time in the era of Civil Rights, and this was Memphis, Tennessee.

Me, I was a white girl from south-central Wisconsin and I’m not sure I’d ever even seen a black person “in person” before.  I was definitely not familiar with what I was seeing in Memphis on the tour our father took us on that day:  Negroes were being arrested for, simply sitting on stools in the so-called “wrong section” of these restaurant areas in Walgreen’s- and Woolworth’s-type stores.

Sit-in at white-only lunch counter, Nashville--have link Susan

Sit-in at white-only Walgreen’s lunch counter in downtown Nashville, Feb., 1960; photo from Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nashville_sit-ins , accessed Apr., 2014. (Originally published with the article “Negro Sit-Ins Resumed Here” in The Tennessean, Mar. 26, 1960.)

To me it was all too bizarre, and at my complete disbelief at what I was seeing, my father decided to take the tour further, inject a little “hands-on learning” into it.  “Here, let me show you,” he says, parking and leading me in to the store being picketed/demonstrated at.

“Go sit there,” he said, pointing at a stool, smiling.  I complied, curious where this was going.  “Can I order something?” I asked, and he said, “Sure.”

Fast enough to startle me, a policeman scurries up to me and near yells in a sinister tone, “You can’t sit there!”  My face, the kind that likes to emote all over the place, registers confusion and a little fear and he softens just a bit, pointing sternly to a sign:  “Colored.”

My father steps up and says to the police officer, “She’s from up north, she doesn’t know this stuff.  I was just teaching her.”

The officer regards my father with a mix of, Well aren’t you a stupid idiot, and, what could only be called, Warning, and my father gets humble, apologizes, and removes me from the scene/establishment.

This is a real Land Of Savages, I think.

Chattanooga Police unleash high-pressure water jets on peaceful student demonstrators in downtown Chattanooga Feb 1960--chactivistDOTcom

Chattanooga Police unleash high-pressure water jets on peaceful student demonstrators in downtown Chattanooga, Feb., 1960.  Photo from  Chris Brooks blog, “History, Politics And Commentary From a Social Justice Perspective, at http://chactivist.com/post/51391103703/the-chattanooga-roots-of-the-black-power-movement ,
accessed Apr., 2014.

~~~

At first we lived in a private home with an elderly woman and her grandson? nephew? who rented rooms to our father.  My sisters & I shared one room, my father & Pete & Phil, another.

It was nice.  I liked that the old woman’s presence put a major damper on my father’s molestation of us.  I did not like that in the mornings in public school we had to stand and say the “Our Father” together — I was feeling a bit miffed with God for letting our mother die, not to mention the fact that we were then left to be raised by a man who rivaled any troll or goblin from under the bridge in any faerie tale I’d ever read — nor was I real comfortable with what followed that morning prayer every day in school:  a rousing group-sing of “Dixie,” aka the anthem of the Confederate States of America.

“Oh, I wish I was in the land of cotton,
“Old times there are not forgotten,
“Look away, look away, look away Dixie Land.

“In Dixie Land, where I was born in,
“early on one frosty mornin’,
“Look away, look away, look away Dixie Land.

“I wish I was in Dixie, Hooray! Hooray!
“In Dixie Land I’ll take my stand
“to live and die in Dixie.
“Away, away, away down south in Dixie.
“Away, away, away down south in Dixie”

I was genuinely confused at references to “The War of Northern Aggression.”  I was familiar with The American Civil War, but this one of northern aggression I’d somehow missed and, I was a good student.  When I realized it was all one and the same, I felt like such a stranger in a strange land.  (What would the Blessed Sacrament nuns of my 1st & 2nd grade years have to say about all this?)

These people are scary, I decided:  they made poor farmers mostly Negroes live in teeny houses with holes in the walls & roofs; they celebrated pre-Civil-War days of slavery as if those had been the best of times; they separated people by skin color at lunch counters and arrested anyone defying the custom.  What the…?

But like I said, it was okay, nice where we were living and, I did like that the old woman’s presence put a major damper on my father’s molestation of us.

Then one day our landlady inexplicably? chased two of my siblings around her kitchen with an iron skillet, and, we moved.


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memphis, part 2

We arrive at the motel.  Our father rents a room.

Once in the motel room our father walks around our quarters for the evening chitchatting and laughing with my brother Pete.  (Laughing about what?  Two little girls are out there in the night!)

Contrary to his words to Sally & Sharon our father does not keep watch for them, yet I cannot move from the window, where I scan the horizon for even a glimpse of two little girls in long cotton nightgowns to appear once more like ghost figures in the night.

Endlessly, anxiously, I scan the darkness.

I am in anguish.  They have been kidnapped.  They have wandered into the weeds that are every bit as tall as they are, looking for a “shortcut.”  They have stopped to rest?  They have been hit by a car.  My father interrupts my thoughts with, “For Chris’sakes get away from that window, if the motel manager sees you he’ll figure out in an instant what you’re doing!”

I move away and then move back.  A good 30 minutes has passed.  My father is a crazy man.

Lights flashing, a police car suddenly pulls into view.  I hold my breath — the girls are dead.  I knew it.

The police car stops in front of our motel room and an officer gets out of the car, walks up to our door, knocks on it.  I am glad to see him.  He will surely arrest our father.  I will not mind being adopted by someone else.

“Picked up a couple of little girls on the road back there,” the police officer begins sternly, and my father interrupts him with a sheepish grin, says something to the effect of, “Was trying to save a little money, you know how it is,” and he laughs, and to my astonishment the policeman checkles at this.  He nods back to his vehicle, motioning the occupants to come forth, and my sisters appear.

“Yeah, the motel manager and I figured that out,” he replies, giving my father a conspiratorial, Tsk tsk, look.  “But now don’t go doing that again, it could have been someone other than me who picked your girls up.”

I cannot believe this.  Would it even help to tell this cop that our father molests us every night, that to sleep through the night at our house is a rare experience, that I sometimes cry at night begging God for the luxury of just plain sleeping?  I don’t think so.  I can imagine this particular police person just telling our father, “Well now don’t go doing that again,” wink wink.  After which — once the cop left — my father would rage.  It would be iffy, at best, to confide in this guy.  I stand there safely expressionless, shaking my head inside my mind.

It would seem, we are on our way to hell.

~~~

Driving the next day we keep passing the most wretched-looking structures I have ever seen.  “Why are there all these broken-down-looking shacks all over the place?” I ask my father.  “Why don’t they just tear them down?”

A home in Fayette County. Found in Muhammad Speaks newsletter


University of Memphis photo; “Sharecropping,”
“A Rural Economic Strategy Extends the pre-Civil War Way of Life into the Twentieth Century,” at http://www.memphis.edu/tentcity/sharecropping.php, accessed Apr., 2014.

“Those are tenant farmer’s homes,” he answers.

“What is a tenant farmer?” I ask, followed quickly by, “Wait, you aren’t telling me people live in those shacks?!” but my latter question is pretty much answered in the affirmative by my own eyes.

Sharecroppers home, Fayette Co., TN (3of)--MemphisDOTedu

University of Memphis photo; “Sharecropping”
[Same source as preceding photo]

“Tenant farmers work a farmer’s land in exchange for part of the profits,” my father says.  “And yes, they live in those ‘shacks.’  Whole families.  Those are their homes.”  He seems amused by my dumbfounded reaction.  My horror?

Suddenly I understand why he wanted to move back to the south.  He was from the south, originally.  He knows of all these terrible things that go on here.  (He knew he could get away with dumping eight- & 10-year-old daughters on a country road at night in order to lower his motel charge.  He knew it.)

“Those shacks — those houses, they have holes in them,” I say.

“Ya,” says my father.

Inside my mind I am shaking my head again.

~~~

It is nightfall once more.  We are in Memphis at last.  Tired, hungry.  A delicious smell teases my nose as we pass a “Little Pig Barbecue” place.  Our father pulls into the lot.  He gets out of the car and returns with a bag.  He pulls out a sandwich and hands it to Pete, then pulls out a second for himself.  I am starving and intoxicated by the smoky scent of the pork.

“Don’t we get one too?” I ask, truly surprised.

“You ate a big meal already today,” our father grumbles.  “I have to watch my money, make it last.”

Reluctantly, he lets two of us take small bites from his sandwich while Pete lets the other two do the same with his.  That is all we younger kids get.

I have never tasted anything as wonderful as Little Pig Barbecue.

Little Pig Barbecue

 A Rawlings Little Pig Barbecue on US 1, Petersburg, VA, 1998, from “Jim Dow’s Photographs of BBQ Joints Across the American South,” at http://www.featureshoot.com/2013/06/jim-dows-photographs-of-bbq-joints-across-the-american-south/#!DhXIn , accessed Apr., 2014.