I got this idea for a slice from Girl Griot, who wrote about all the places she’d lived since leaving home. Since I’ve moved a lot since I was born, I’ll do this in two parts, before I left home, and after.
My first eight months were spent in Newport News, Virginia. My father had been hired at Langley Field by the National American Committee on Aeronautics (what later became NASA and was featured in the movie, and book, Hidden Figures) as an engineer right out of college in 1939. By 1943, he was transferred to Aberdeen Proving Ground, in Maryland. My brother was born while we lived in war housing until World War II was over. In the summer of 1945 we move to Silver Spring, Maryland, while my father works at the Applied Physics Lab at Johns Hopkins, until he’s fired as a security risk a year later. After my sister is born in Washington, D.C., we move into that city to live with my father’s parents.
In the spring of 1947, we move up to Brooklyn to live with my mother’s parents, on Avenue P. (Yes, Avenue P, just like the song on the Really Rosie album, lyrics by Maurice Sendak, music by Carole King.) My father is still unable to get a job in his field because of McCarthyism. A month after I start school in 1947, we move, along with my grandparents, to another apartment in Brooklyn, in Bensonhoist, excuse me, Bensonhurst (my mother constantly corrected any trace of Brooklyn accent creeping into my childish speech).
Leases in New York always ran out in October (why? did landlords not have any children? did they not realize how hard it is for kids to change schools a month after school starts?). In October 1950, my nuclear family moved out of the city, leaving my grandparents in another apartment in Brooklyn. My father always said he hated cities, so he moved us to the country in West Haven, Connecticut.
The longest I lived anywhere growing up was in West Haven, five and a half years. In the spring of 1956, my father got a job at a pharmaceutical company in Philadelphia, and in May, six weeks before I would have graduated from eighth grade into high school, we moved again, to Levittown, Pennsylvania. (I did manage to persuade my parents to let me take the train, alone, back to West Haven so I could attend my class’s graduation.)
And at the end of my junior year in high school, my parents were perverse once again and moved me around the Philly suburbs, from north to west, to Gladwyne, forcing me to change schools once again at an awkward moment.
To be continued.