Creeks And Bridges

A creek ran below the house. It was up
a canyon, and the road was winding. It
was lined with aspen and willow. Steps
crossed a small bridge to the place where
we swam in the summer and hauled water
when pipes froze in the winter.
The first time we ever saw snow was
exciting, especially being from the city.
There was a rather steep hill and we had a
difficult time carrying buckets of water.

The snow on the trees looked like fluffy
gowns. The icicles like sharp glittering
swords. We played games and pretended
we were ice men protecting our castle.

One night it was so cold we could see our
breath as little puffs of smoke mixed with
frost. The roof leaked and we had to put
pans and bowls to catch the water dripping
from the holes. We gathered around
the stove with our brown army blankets
sipping hot chocolate, and if mama was
home, enjoying hot biscuits from the oven.

There were happy times at the
Christmas season, there was a great
celebration. A parade of children,
marched down the street, singing
and playing to the music. There was
hot apple cider and little sacks of
Then we would gather around the
tree to exchange presents and sing
Christmas carols, it was so much fun
and took our minds off the problems
that seemed so bad.

Again we grew to like this town, but one
more time we cried with tears and
said goodbye. Mama said big girls
don’t cry. But this would be our last
trip, for the next town would be where
we finally settled.

Schools And Rules

Little did I know as a child, I would write
my story, that I would share with others
my experiences many years later.

Every time we got settled, mama would
get the urge to move on. I know this
sounds repetitious, but it was true.
We would just get use to a new school
and all the rules, and make friends, and
then pull up stakes and hit the road again.
But we had a lot of good experiences, they
weren’t all bad. In one town we lived in,
there was a castle* pretty much in ruins.
But the walls had remained with a few
windows, and I would play in it pretending
I was a queen in a royal palace, it was
a safe place to be in the midst of all the
*Stokes Castle, Photo Courtesy of Atlas Obscura

A one room school had mean ornery kids,
they made fun of us, but then they began to
like us. We played kick the can and had
lots of fun. The teachers were kind and
gave us honey grahams with peanut butter.
I can still remember how good they tasted,
especially not having breakfast. Then one
more time mama decides to move on, back
into the little car we went. Don’t ask me
how we all fit in with our old black Chow
and now a couple of kittens. Summer quickly
passes and then onto fall and winter. We
really needed a place to stay, and mama
swung a deal. She was always clever at
that and we moved into one more mining
It didn’t have much in it but a potbellied stove
and a couple of mattresses, with an old red
quilt with big stitches someone must have
forgotten in the rush for gold.

It had four small rooms with an old lean to shed
on the back, a kitchen with a green wood stove.
When we were lucky mama baked bread and we
were happy. Then we would get french toast
and bread pudding if there was any left.

We were happy when mama was home!

Another Saga Story

Well, it was a long way from L.A. and
the city lights. We briefly stayed in
each mining town, like making a
circuit. They were pretty much the same,
with old buildings called saloons and
gambling halls with miners passed out
on the benches.

One day when we had enough money
for gas, we went to a small city
called “The Biggest Little City In
The World.”*

By then I was able to
read, don’t ask me how, with all
the confusion. I was surprised as
we rode down the street, it didn’t
seem like the big city I used to
live in. I remember mama would go
into big buildings with flashing lights.

I wasn’t sure why she did, all I
remember is waiting for hours for
her to come out. I didn’t understand,
all I knew there wasn’t much food.
Usually she had a frown on her face,
and I always knew we would go back,
hoping she would be lucky next time.
She didn’t like playing the strange
machines with handles that made a lot
of noise, spitting out coins. She liked the
tables with cards and red and blue dice
with little white dots. I remember the
game was called ‘twenty one.’†††

Well, one day we were really excited. Mama
won enough money to buy a little trailer. It
was fun to sleep in and it even had a little
toilet, we finally didn’t have to use those
smelly outhouses. But our excitement was
short lived, she didn’t have enough money
to make the payments and they came and
took it away.

Back to the old shacks with its scorpions and
spiders, but we survived. Strange how
children can be resilient and accept things
however they happen!
*Photo Courtesy of Getty Images

The Old Chevy Coupe

The old blue Chevy Coupe left the city,
climbing the steep mountain passes,
on to the high desert, where the skies are
blue and clear.

Children peer out the window in awe
and surprise at the sand, sun and
cacti, with rabbits running to hide. This
is a story of a family searching for gold.
A mama, a sister and brother with
their old black Chow. Shadows of
the Sierra’s fade in the distance,
coming to a land of lavender shaded
hills and rugged ravines.

Day begins to close and darkness falls,
as they stop beside the road of this
lonely land, unloading their meager
supplies. A kindling of fire sizzles, as
they heat a can of beans. Mama drinks
coffee but the children are too young, so
they just drink water instead.

The children go to sleep with old army
blankets from the car’s back floor. Sounds
of the desert are frightening with coyotes,
rattlesnakes and Great Horned Owls.
The sun’s warmth is welcomed as they waken.

Coming around the bend in this desolate land,
there is a little mining town. They finally arrived.
Barely a green thing grows here, except by the
mill where water washes ore and dirt on the mining

Mama finds an old mining shack for the children
to live in, they just get settled and go to school,
but then mama decides to move on, and so the
little family hits the road again, little do they
know, this would be the beginning of their
desert travels.

And so the Saga goes on!

Lost To Saved

Very early in our childhood, our mother took my
brother and I from our father due to alcoholism.
We were products of parents who were themselves
carrying about abuse and neglect, and we were
recipients as well. I was six and my brother
was three.
We were boarded with strangers in an eastern
state and left for an indefinite period of time.
Looking back, it seemed that we had been sent
into a wilderness of which we had no help, our
backs turned to a hot furnace of affliction.

Our mother eventually came to get us and then
the moving began. She was a very angry person
and flighty, uprooting us at any
time she became dissatisfied, which was often.
We lived mostly in old mining towns in
Nevada, in little shacks that were drafty and
cold, outhouses that were dark and scary.

After we moved to Nevada the compulsive
gambling started, she would take the food
money while we would wait in the car or movie
theaters until very late. Then
losing her money, she would go out, only
to return again when she was able to
earn a little. She frequented saloons
and gambling halls where my brother
and I waited on the old wood benches
searching for cigarette butts, as a game
to occupy our attention.

Humiliated and shamed, no one to turn to,
no family of friends – little did we know,
that this was preparing us to reach out to
receive help from above!

Canvas Of My Life

I watched intently as the artist placed her empty
canvas upon the easel, setting paints of beautiful
colors on the table. Strokes are applied so evenly
and smoothly as she moves side to side. She paints
a picture, filling it with beauty. No longer empty .

I was in awe of her ability to take a picture of darkness and
turn it into a work of art. I had some reflections, I am
not an artist in the typical sense, but I am an artist
of sorts. The picture I had painted was not a pretty
one, in fact it was quite lacking in many ways.

But then I realized there was much more to this
picture I had drawn on the canvas of my life. I saw
that God had seen my meager attempts to paint it,
but he saw another picture painted
by the Great Master Artist. For He had reproduced
what I had almost destroyed, His fine tipped
brush with splashes of colors and shapes that I
could not even fathom. He then began a picture
of my life, weaving with threads tightly woven,
carrying me through life’s bumps and ridges.


I packed my bags, putting them in my little red
wagon, starting down the street, not knowing
where I was going. This is how my life began
as a child, running from my past, dragging
my baggage, always hoping there
would be someone to catch me. From the very
beginning through trauma and abuse, I left
a part of me behind. I became separated
from my child within. I fought against
her, even though I desperately needed her.
But she was always there, trying to help me.
I was so filled with anger and rage, I could
not even cry.

And this is how I ran through life, unable to feel,
fearing all my fears and shame lurking before me.
I developed an odd way to face life, always pulling
my little red wagon, loaded with heavy burdens
that a child should not bare.
Little did I know that one day I would be led
to the help I needed, just waiting to help me
let these burdens go.