Since I first peeked over the edge of my bassinette in 1942, I have framed my life with humor. Not because it’s been one long, laughable journey. But because humor is the frame that keeps me from running off the rails.
I was a wanted child, born in the blink between
depression and war. My father and mother were impossibly beautiful, like F. Scott and Zelda transported to a farm in eastern Kansas just beyond the dustbowl. My father loved my mother and farming; my mother loved everything about my father except the farming part.
And I knew they adored me. They passed me proudly around a circle of grandparents, aunts and uncles both regular and great, townspeople and farmpeople. I’ve got the pictures to prove it. My mother sewed me coats, hats, purses, dresses and even undies, with skill and finesse and fashion sense.
When America entered World War II ,my land-locked and farm-bound father joined the United States Navy and was stationed in the Naval Post Office in San Francisco. Two years old and still the cossetted only child, I accompanied my mother across the country by train to join my father in California. I was blissfully happy, unaware of war, of Asian countrymen in U.S. Concentration camps, of Jews and other non Ayrans slaughtered methodically. I was bothered only by the shortage of bananas, my favorite fruit.
It was all palm trees and walking down the steep hills, a toddler drunk with happiness holding a parents hand in each of mine until the war ended in 1945.