My Beloved Daughter,
Our final year in Campbell was a whirlwind. Not long after buying that house on Franklin Street, your Grandpa Chuck’s employer trumped up a reason to fire him. Something about him being a couple of minutes late getting back on the boat from shore leave. Considering that he had worked for them for ten years, letting his lungs deteriorate in the process, he had never been late before. One time and he was fired? I think there was more going on there. We did go after them for a financial settlement over his health issues. Since it literally took them four years to settle, I’ll get to that in a later post.
So, after he was fired by the towing company, he went to work as a diesel mechanic for your Grandma Pat’s brother, Uncle Roger, at his company in El Dorado, Arkansas. This kept him gone longer and he had to travel to see us, so he wasn’t making enough to support us in Campbell and keep himself fed in Arkansas. To try to supplement the income, Grandma Pat got a job as a nurse’s aide, working with Aunt Ruth in a nursing home in the nearby town of Malden, Missouri. It went well for a while, until she hit a snag.
Your Grandma Pat had worked as a nurse’s aide before I was born. She liked taking care of people, so it fit. Unfortunately, by the time I was in junior high (what you now call “middle school”), it required a certification. And Grandma Pat didn’t know if she could handle going back to school that late in life. So she ended up quitting the job. It was decided that we would move out of that house in Campbell and move down to join Grandpa Chuck in Arkansas.
Our last week in Campbell, during the early part of March of 1989, was a freezing one. I had just celebrated my fourteenth birthday, to little fanfare. We couldn’t afford to pay the gas bill and the gas company came out and shut it off . . . again, during 0ne of the coldest winters on record. We spent a week in that house, bundled up at all times in blankets.
Then, Grandpa Chuck and Uncle Ronald, who was driving a truck for Uncle Roger’s company, showed up in one of those trucks and a completely empty trailer. In the middle of the night, we loaded everything we owned into that truck. I grabbed my cat, Linus, and joined Grandma in her car and we drove the six hours to southern Arkansas, to a little town called Strong.
Linus threw up on me sometime during the trip.
I remember the house that we moved into down there. It was actually very nice. It had a sunroom that had been finished with carpet, along with two bedrooms. It was smaller than what we had lived in in Campbell. But at least it was warm.
And it was the first time that Grandpa Chuck had worked in a job where he could come home every night since I was five years old.