My Gypsy Life
I was born into a family that went where the next job was located. No, we were not ‘Travelers’ or a true ancestral ‘Gypsy’ family. My father was in independent highway contractor in Texas. Due to his career path, I was born what I have always called a Texas or Lone Star Gypsy; brought home from the hospital to begin my life in a small trailer – they were not called mobile homes in the 1950s.
My home outside the womb was surprisingly womb-like. It was forest green and silver outside an inside cozy with walls and ceiling covered with smooth glowing amber-colored wood. For the time, it was a high-end affair having an air circulating butane powered wall heater that kept us toasty in the winter. During hot summer months we had a refrigerated air conditioner, which made it even more high-end in comparison to most other trailer homes at the time. It was located in the wall about the couch in the end designated as the living room. Since the trailer was so small, it chased away the summer Texas heat. When you live in basically a bit metal box with few windows made AC a luxury.
The kitchen was really nicely appointed with a full size fridge and propane gas stove. However, cabinet, counter and storage space was limited but workable. Everything was built-in even the dining table which when ‘pulled out’ almost touching the couch had seated 6-8 people at times. Since there were only three of us, it stayed in the ‘resting’ position with a chair for each of my parents that could be folded and stored when more room was needed and a high chair for me. A spot in what we thought of as my dad’s corner sat a highly polished wooden radio. When we finally bought a small black and white TV, my mother gave up coveted counter space in the kitchen for that wonderful entertainment.
The living room couch opened out to make a second bed with a large storage section underneath. To one side was a built-in cabinet with three drawers … one was the must have junk drawer and the other two served as my father’s office of sorts holding all the paperwork filed away, contracts, and checkbook for writing out weekly payment to his crew. My mother was his secretary, bookkeeper, and tax advisor … not bad for two people will little formal education.
The opposite end of the trailer was the bedroom. Again, all built-ins … a full size bed, a low chest for storage at one end, above the bed cabinets that now remind me of overhead bins on a plane. There was a small closet and equally small bathroom – again tight and tidy with a toilet, sink and shower – the room only large enough for one person at a time. There was a door for privacy for the bathroom but I don’t remember a door closing off the bedroom from the rest of the overall space. I vaguely remember the closet door when opened almost blocked off the bedroom from the kitchen living area … or perhaps a pocket door. I am old and memory fails me about the door or lack there of.
I do remember that my mother maximized every inch of space for storage and efficiency. It is remarkable how much room to store different things there is under a full size bed in a tight space. I didn’t have a crib or a bed or my own, but the chest next to the bed was just the right size for a crib mattress. That is where I slept until I out grew that space — after that I’m not sure where I slept … again old age and memory fails me.
Having no bathtub, the double kitchen sink was my tub until I out grew that as well and I was old enough to bathe myself. Then a large plastic tub was filled with bubbly warm water, placed in the shower and I got to splash to my heart’s content.
We moved the first time when I was only three weeks old. We left Waco where I was born to I don’t know where … wherever the next job happened to be. My dad hooked up our home to his pickup truck to move our home to the new town. The two or three people who worked for him on a permanent basis moved all of his necessary large equipment to the new job. He helped them find temporary housing and they went ‘home’ on weekends to be with their families.
This was my ‘Texas Gypsy’ live until I turned five years old and would soon be starting first grade. My father was adamant I would stay in the same school district for my entire 1-12 education – yes, I am old enough there wasn’t public kindergarten.
When we settled in rural Central Texas, the home I knew for the first six years of my life became my father’s home away from home. He moved the trailer to where the job was and I had a weekend father from that point on. He designed to first house I lived in and built it with his own hands with the help of friends. It is a large three bedroom, two bath brick ranch style home where I finished growing up. Now that my parents are no longer alive, that house belongs to me. It and that small green and silver trailer hold wonderful memories … some good … some not so good.
During those first six years of my life, we lived in twenty-three different towns … several of them more than once. That is a lot of moving in six short years. A few times we lived in an apartment … always one carved from someone’s single-family home with a kitchen, bedroom, living area but always a shared bathroom with either the home’s owner or with other apartment dwellers if the house had multiple apartments.
When I began college, a new set of towns also began. I didn’t reach twenty-three on my own, but during college, grad school and the life of an educator, I collected eight more towns – again, living in some more than once over a thirty-seven year period. Once again, I now live in rural Central Texas where I called home growing up. I moved back ten years before I retired to be available to my elderly mother who had no other family by that time in my life. Like my father, I went to the job … being a daily 150-mile round-trip commuter rather than a Monday – Friday one.
Looking back over my ‘gypsy’ life, I would not change a thing … and don’t plan to ever move again.
Copyright © 2017 Annie
Always…I wish you peace, joy and happiness, but most of all I wish you Love.
As Ever, Annie
*NOTE: The picture above is not what I grew up in, but was the closest to what our trailer looked like that I could find.