* Laura's narrative: *
I recall a time when my parents, my brother Danny, and I went to see Uncle David and Aunt Iris in Long Island, New York. The year was around 1970. My dad was stationed at Ft. Bragg, NC. My grandma was flying in to New York from Los Angeles for a visit. Since we were only a stone's throw from New York City, mom and dad decided to take advantage of the golden opportunity to join grandma, and visit with my aunt and uncle too.
My dad was very sick with respiratory allergies that used to knock him completely off his feet. Mom had to do all the driving, while my dad slept in the back of our station wagon. When we got into Manhattan, a borough of New York City, we stopped at a gas station to get directions to my uncle's address. My dad did the asking. There was an older person and a couple of teenagers sitting on chairs at the station laughing like hyenas. My dad was in no mood for silliness, feeling very week and tired. He walked up to the older man and asked for the fastest way to Long Island from that point. One of the younger guys said, "Well! The fastest way is to fly, he he he!" My dad turned his head and, looking over his shoulder, he gave the younger guys the blankest, coldest stare he could muster, long enough to make them feel stupid. Then he turned back to the older man and asked again.
We managed to find the address pretty easily despite the strange address numbering system. Actually, the system is very helpful because, besides having the house number, it also includes, as part of the address, the hundred block address of the nearest cross street.
At some point during the visit, we had a car accident. My mother was driving through town. She crossed a rather busy intersection that had no traffic lights, or stop signs. As she was crossing, a car was coming at us fast from the left. My mom slammed the gas peddle to the floor and sprang across the intersection. The other driver panicked! All she had to do was to steer slightly to the right to avoid contact. Instead, she slammed on her brakes and went skidding in a wide arc, right at us. Weeks later, dad got a letter from the woman's police officer husband, blaming the accident on mom, and wanting compensation, a demand which mom and dad promptly ignored. I don't remember what the final outcome of the accident was. In fact, I don't personally remember the facts I just mentioned. I just remember my dad talking about it years later. The only reason I remember the trip at all, is because of the mean thing my two older cousins did to me.
I was walking with them through their neighborhood, while they were riding their bikes. I was about 5 years old. All of a sudden, without warning, they both took off around the corner, leaving me standing there alone and scared. I began to cry because I thought I was lost. There was a lady on her porch near by. I went up to her with tears streaming down my cheeks and asked, "Do you know where my grandma lives?" (I thought we were visiting at grandma's house.) The lady asked, "What's your grandma's name honey?" I said, "Grandma!" (That's all I knew her as.) Finally, my cousins came back. They had just circled around the block. I don't remember if my cousins got in trouble for what they did, but I've never forgotten that awful lost and frightening feeling of a child!