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A trip down memory lane

My adoptive parents

Thanks to Skype I spent the last 53 minutes speaking with my sister Tanya that lives in Canton Ohio. This conversation took us both down memory lane and we were able to reminisce about our childhood.

My sister and I were both adopted by a military couple who were stationed in Frankfurt Germany. My adoptive father was stationed in Frankfurt Germany in the Army and he met my mother there who was from Austria. My adoptive mother just happened to meet my dad at a bingo game and fell in love. My parents got married and soon after became pregnant with their first child. As fate would have it my mom went through several failed pregnancies and sometime after that the decision was made to adopt a girl. My mom at that time was an interpreter for the Austrian consulate and spoke 12 languages.

Aschaffenburg Germany is close to Frankfurt, my parents found the orphanage my sister, and I was in.  Luckily for my sister Tanya she was the first selection and the lengthy adoption process began. One year later the paperwork was finalized and our parents came to the orphanage to pick up Tanya and take her home.  It was at this time that the nuns told my parents that Tanya has a brother in the orphanage as well.  My parents walked over to my crib and picked me up.  I had a cast on my right leg because of a club foot and my parents were told that I would never walk. My dad said that when he picked me up out of the crib that I snatched the Austrian hat off his head and threw it across the room and laughed at him.

At that moment, my dad fell in love with me and the adoption process started for me as well.  My sister and I were both adopted and we both had several physical ailments that would require extensive medical attention. Thanks to my dad being in the armed forces, he was able to provide us both with the healthcare that we needed.  The German doctors told my parents I would never walk.  After several operations and my parents getting me fitted with orthopedic shoes, they were able to teach me how to walk.  My sister could not see out of one of her eyes and needed extensive medical attention.  Thanks to the care we received as infants I have been walking for the last 46 years and my sister were able to pass her first driving eye exam without the use of glasses.

In the mid 1960’s my parents moved us back to the U.S. and we moved from one army base to the next when my dad retired in 1969 and moved us back to Quinlan Texas where he was raised as a child.  We lived in a white frame house on a corner lot and lived there for a couple of years until my parents built their first brick home on 2.5 lots next to us.  We moved into that home in 1971 and lived in that house for the next 18 years as we went through grade school and high school.  I believe that this home was three bedroom and two bath house that my parents got a thirty year mortgage on.  My parents paid the house off in 20 years and paid around 30k for it.

Looking back on my childhood I regret to say that there were not any Walton family moments that will warm your heart.  I can honestly say now as I look back that my parents were not prepared to raise two challenging kids in the 70’s and 80’s.  Now that I have been a parent to 4 children of my own I can identify with many of their struggles. I believe that my parents did the best they could with what they had.

As I look back down memory lane I do have some fond memories. Before we moved to Quinlan Texas, we lived in Terrell Texas and my dad spent a tour in Vietnam.  I remember the day that Martin Luther king was shot and how my mom had us kids in the bathroom in the bathtub and we could hear people racing up and down the streets shooting up the houses.  That was not a very fond memory however, I do remember my mom taking us to a small catholic chapel to light candles and pray four our dad.  I also remember my sister and I playing outside on the sidewalk and our mom would come out onto the front porch and give us Graham crackers and milk.  I love Graham crackers to this day.

I remember my mom taking my sister and I to the public library in Greenville Texas.  All three of us would check out 20 books apiece and we had two weeks to read them.  During the summer we spent our time at home because we were not allowed to run loose in town like some of our classmates. My mom and I would read our 20 books within a week and then we would switch out the book piles and read each other’s books before it was time to turn them in.

There was no such thing as personal computers, Internet or video games. We did have a rotary telephone in the front hallway and a tube driven black and white TV in the living room.  My sister and I were forbidden to touch the phone as children and we had to ask permission to watch the television at night after we proved the homework was done.  Entertainment as kids was reading and shooting hoops in the back yard in the summer heat.  I remember that my dad buried a telephone pole in the back yard in front of the vegetable garden that I learned to hate.  There was no such thing as a basketball court as I was forced to dribble the ball in grass.  Then there was the vegetable garden and the tiller from hell. My parents firmly believed in children earning their keep by doing chores. That meant my sister did all the inside chores and I did all the outside chores.  Chores that I got to share in such as washing and drying dishes and helping with the laundry.  One of my most dreaded chores was to keep the weeds out of our vegetable garden that ran the length of the 2.5 lots.  I remember bending over pulling weeds for so long that I could no longer feel my back.

I remember that Quinlan Texas consisted primarily of white people and that the one black family lived on the outskirts of town.  I went to school with the boy of that family and his name was Steve Phillips.  I remember how that I never really thought of his skin color and considered him to be a friend. Steve and I played basketball for four years in high school.

Sadly, my parents were not only prejudiced against people of other cultures but they were even prejudiced against certain white folks as well.  If you did not drive a certain class of vehicle or live in a nice brick home such as theirs then you were considered a lower class citizen. I remember this because there was a family that lived up the street that were not as well off as we were.  In my parents eyes they were poor white trash.  I remember being forbidden to have anything to do with that family and because of that, I became close friends of that family.

In 1978 my sister left home and went into the Army and in 1980 I graduated from Ford High School and left home.  I spent one year in Terrell Texas and worked at Terrell State Hospital on a lock up ward for Dallas County.  I then moved to Houston Texas where I met my first wife and my son Jeremy was born.  My sister Tanya got out of the Army and got married and moved to Canton Ohio where she has been to this day.

My Dad passed away in 1990 from cancer and my mother passed away several years ago from cancer as well.  I will always be deeply thankful for the incredible opportunity that they gave me and my sister by bringing us out of that orphanage and bringing us to the United States of America where we can pursue our dreams and live a much better life.

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  1. So you weren’t born in the US? That means you can never be president, right? Interesting. And somehow reassuring to those of us who know you… 😉

    Very nice family history. And fantastic that you got to talk to your sister for so long last night. Technology really can bring us together when used correctly.

  2. No, I am an army brat. As for being President I would never want that headache and I am certainly not anywhere near qualified for it either. So, rest easy peeps you will never see me in the oval office. LOL… Yes, it was nice speaking to my sister via Skype last night.