I remember just like it was yesterday: my little brother, Larry, (he was only two years younger than I, but I always considered him to be my little brother…I guess it’s because whenever he needed his bottle of milk fixed , I often insisted on doing it for him!) whose birth name was Joseph, and I took a Greyhound Bus from Baton Rouge, Louisiana to Oakland, California, after school was out (I was twelve years old going to eighth grade and Larry was ten going to sixth grade), in June 1962, in order to join my mother along with her new husband of five years (she married him when I was about seven years old), where they lived in Richmond, CA.
I recall that I did not want to leave my maternal grandparents (who raised my brother and I since we were toddlers after my parents divorce), numerous cousins, aunts, and uncles (we were a close-knitted family similar to most southern families at that time and many still are), even though I loved and missed my mother, every since she decided to move to California after divorcing my biological father when I was about three years old. I was very sad to leave Baton Rouge and my relatives, to say the least. A first cousin , my mother’s youngest siblings’ oldest daughter who was raised with us at my grandparents’ house confided to me during recent years, that she and the other cousins who lived nearby in the same neighborhood were very sad to see us leave and often cried for us to return…sad! Needless to say, that first year in Richmond, California, I came home from eighth grade (where my teachers adored me because of my Southern Charm and Manners…my History teacher would allow me to lead lessons and I was actually crowned Homecoming Queen that year!), did my homework, ate dinner, did my chores, and boo hooed (!) the rest of the night in my pillow because I was so homesick for Baton Rouge, Louisiana and my relatives! This was hurtful to my mother. She would come in my room at night because she heard me sobbing…I was comforted to know I would get to visit my relatives the upcoming summer, I could hardly wait!!