My father was in the military and we moved a lot. When base housing no longer provided the seclusion my parents required to continue living their drunken lifestyles, my father moved us. We relocated to a small, isolated brick home in rural Stedman, North Carolina. It was 1960.
Stedman was a tiny, southern town about an hour from Fort Bragg. We had four acres and in this world in which I existed, I became like Jane from the early Tarzan movies. I lost myself in the breathtaking land of the big oaks and the white sands of the Coastal Plain.
I made an area which was my imaginary living quarters where I prepared mud pies and other yummy delicacies for my dolls. I listened to the magical sounds of the trees as the winds blew the decade old branches of the substantial oaks. They provided cover, allowing me to be outside until dark, even in inclement weather.
Because my parents were both drunk most of the time, I was on my own at the early age of six and I allowed myself the luxury of my fantasies in the world of the Big Four. That was the name I gave to our land and my beloved sanctuary.
I could forget the reoccurring abuses that took place within the walls of the tiny brick house for those precious hours, while I played within the safety of the Big Four’s boundaries.
When I would be late getting home, I often met the painful burn of a switch (which would come from a tree of my choosing). Being a child, I always picked the smallest switch, until I realized these could wrap around your leg causing considerable pain and leaving large welts.
I took my imagination and I utilized it to forget what lay within the brick walls of a home that contained such horror. Instead, I found a healthy escape from my true reality for as long as I could and luxuriated in the healthy life I created within my wooden world.
As children, we were creative survivors that hung on to our fantasies the world around us bequeathed and as we got older, our imaginations only grew more inventive.