Inevitably, going through all that stuff, the Brothers hashed and rehashed memories, told and retold old stories.
Casa De Oro elementary school was right across the street from 10194 Romana Drive. I only went there a couple of years before moving on to Spring Valley Junior High, about a mile walk away. For some reason—and I didn’t know this—Brother Dave, who went to Casa De Oro elementary school for all the six years or maybe seven if he had kindergarten, had to come home for lunch. I don’t know why that was. I didn’t have to come home for lunch. Thank God. But for some reason, Brother David had to come home every lunch for those six or seven years, and every lunch for those six or seven years, he was served a bowl of tomato soup. Six or seven years of lunches of tomato soup. For God’s sake! I imagine he had some saltines too or–what did we call them– soda crackers. But he didn’t say if he had those or not.
Brother Dan had the same thing every day for lunch too, though I forget what that was. Also I do believe when we brown bagged it to Junior High we had pretty much the same sandwiches everyday. A baloney sandwich. And one of those little bags of Fritos. That was the best part of the lunch as far as I was concerned.
Brother Dave also said he got in a fight in second grade with another young fellow when that young fellow told Brother Dave that his mother had told him that our mother was a nut, a busy body and a trouble maker. What? I said never having heard that story before. And Brother Dave in his defense—though he need not have made it—said hell, I was only in second grade. What did I know? I consider it to his credit that he defended his mother’s honor even if the young fellow’s mother was correct in her assessment of our mother.
Brother Dan has indicated for some years now that he owes a debt of gratitude to his former allergist down in San Diego. Brother Dan had and still has awful allergies and he had to go to the allergist quite a bit and of course Joan insisted on being right there in the room with Dan and his allergist. But one day the allergist managed to get Brother Dan off by himself and said (though these may not be the exact words), “Son, you do know, I hope, that your mother is crazy.” Brother Dan said his life changed right there on the spot as if a veil had fallen from his eyes. All was clarified.
I wish somebody had said something like that to me. As it was I had to learn the hard way, over time, and with a hell of a lot of reading. As Brother Dave indicates, what do you know? A child knows only what is known to him. And even down there hashing over memories, I was still learning. While I knew our mother was crazy, I hadn’t known that our mother was a known nut throughout the neighborhood.
I feel embarrassed in retrospect.