Saturday, January 16, 2010

Immigrant Daughter #14

Here we are now in El Centro after traveling about 12 days from San Francisco It was wonderful being back in the states for more reasons than fresh fruit and vegetables. We were able to call dad and speak to him on the same day and feel like we could get to see him without having to cross the Pacific Ocean. The climate in the southern California desert was to me just as pleasant as Guam because it wasn’t the damp cold of N.J. I was use to.

The first place we lived was a small unit that was a remodeled chicken coop. My ;youngest child celebrated her first birthday at the chicken coop! Sounds awful doesn’t it? But actually it wasn’t all that bad. Our children were able to play outside without me having to worry about them running into the streets. The farm was far enough back in the woods that we couldn’t even the see any traffic. It was close enough to the base that made getting to work easy for C and gave us some closeness to the civilians in the area.

C had put our name on the housing list for new quarters on the base. We only had to wait about four months when the units became ready. The units were one floor that housed four families in three bedroom apartments. We were fortunate to get and end unit. We had to cut our own grass if we fenced in any part of the yard. This was easy to do on the end unit because our back yard faced the back of a carport, which was long and parallel to our housing unit. This position of the building gave us only two sides to fence in for a play area. This helped in keeping other kids from cutting through the yard to get out to the front. The back of this carport unit gave us welcomed shade in our back yard so the kids could play outside protected from the scorching sun.

We put a child’s plastic pool in the back yard that was six-foot square and two feet deep that had a metal frame wide enough to sit on. As you can imagine this was a big mistake because of the heat when the sun was shining in that part of the yard. It made the metal frame to hot to touch and I had to lift the kids to put them in the water. The good part of this was that the water was warm and felt like bath water and the kids loved splashing each other.

This air station had good medical facilities, a large commissary, a movie house and a nursery school. One day the Chaplain came to see me and asked if I would consider running the nursery school because the lady in charge was leaving the area. They had a bus going around the base picking up the children and after school they would take them home. This made it easy for me to say yes because C needed to car to go to work in the control tower which was a mile or so away.

There were 20 children ages 3 to 5 years old in the school and my youngest was 3 yrs old so I was able to take her with me. The supplies they had were marvelous up to date teaching tools. I had one mother as a helper and she informed me she had never seen the children so well behaved. It didn’t matter to me whose child it was if they needed discipline they got it.

Children that age are teachable and eager to learn. The first thing they learned was to get along with each other and to use an inside voice when playing games inside. They had to
learn to share toys and play together. They learned to pledge allegiance to the flag and sing My Country, ‘Tis Of Thee, and many nursery songs. At the end of the school year we had a program for the parents and to come and see what their children learned. They were quiet impressed. The Chaplain received an award from the commanding officer for maintaining an outstanding nursery school. The military families grew in attendance at the chapel.

Our housing unit was at the beginning of the dependant housing and faced the street that had empty warehouses across the street. The base was in the process of remodeling the old buildings. The ones across the street from our house were just torn down giving us a view of a large empty space all the way to the activity buildings. The first building was the Olympic size swimming pool. It also had a shallow pool that was next to it. It was a good for families because the kids that couldn’t swim could be with those that could and be with each other.

My son had no fear of the water and learned to swim quickly. He was diving off the high diving board and tried to go down and touch the bottom before coming up. The first time I saw it I was thankful there were two Life Guards on duty because I knew I couldn’t go down that far if he needed help. He was a small wiry kid that loved the water. The Life Guards liked him and kept an eye on him so I didn’t worry when he was there by himself going on ahead to the pool before I got the girls ready.

Living on the base had its privileges. Our kids went to the movies by themselves on Saturday afternoon and we always gavethem 10 cents for popcorn from the machine. One Saturday my son comes running home and said come quick K got her hand stuck in the machine. C and I went to the building that house the movie and sure enough K had her hand caught in the machine trying to get the popcorn out while she was clutching the dime in the other hand. I asked her why she did that andshe said some kid told her she could get the popcorn without putting the money in the machine. To free her hand they had to take the machine apart. It took two hours. That was a hard way to learn that you can’t get anything out of a machine without putting in the money first.

Until next time, I am Immigrant Daughter. (I want to thank Kathy B,
Anita and QMM for your encouragement.)


  1. Immigrant daughter, it is lovely to hear about how children learn, how they could go to the movies without the parent staying (as in these days)and how they play. What a wonderful childhood for them and what an exciting life for you! Kind regards, Anita.

  2. Hi, I.D.! I am catching up on your 'chapters'! You really do tell the story in a way that makes me 'see' the things you are writing about! You have had a very interesting life and I appreciate the time you have taken to share it!