Poverty And No Birth Control
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Thomas Franklin is new (11-17) to thefiresidepost.com. He has no experience with being published as an author. He has a fondness for reading and an appreciation of words. His curiosity is insatiable. He carries the burdens of his youth like Marley dragging his chains of bad deeds. The difference is that Marley's burdens were a result of his behavior. Life just happened to Mr. Franklin. These life burdens shall be the topic of Mr. Franklin's writing. Be kind for he is quite sensitive.

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Poverty And No Birth Control

I have written about the ‘twoness’ of parenthood.  The paradox of love versus stress.  My parents were not different than other parents.  They loved us even when they were unable to express the love overtly.  When my father came home from the War in Europe he reunited with my mother, they were promptly married, and began having children.  That act, that act of procreation, that act coming from deep love for one-another, that act that magnifies poverty exponentially.

My parents were 40 years old when their last child was born.  There were seven children in all, mostly boys with some girls.  Note here, I am one of the boys and any editorializing shall be in the male favor.  I think that last child was born in 1960 – a year before the oral contraceptive pill ‘Anovlar’ was produced in Australia.  February 1, 1961 ushered in a momentous change in women’s lives – but too late for my parents.

That last child was delivered by cesarean section.  In 1960 my mother was in the hospital for ten days.  My mother’s sister would help when she could but mostly our father took up the reins of household management.  Twoness applies to my father in every imaginable manner.  He was a great man and he was a brutal man.  He took his role as a parent seriously – which meant that he would work and bring home the money.  That was his contract as a father.  My mother used him like the Mafia uses assassins – get out of line and Luca Brasi will come visit.

When that last child was born and mom was in the hospital for ten days my father managed to cook for us.  He cooked nothing like my mother.  He would split a chicken down the middle and fry both halves.  Each child received a half chicken.  My mother would give each of us one piece of chicken and extra potatoes. Consequently my father was unable to manage the budget for ten days – he ran out of money and his anxiety skyrocketed.

I remember he was at the kitchen table preparing the chicken for the frying pan.  In those days heaping tablespoons of Crisco gave about an inch of oil in the cast iron skillet.  We children crowded around, well, four of us did. The two oldest had exited the house as soon as Dad started his process.  They knew this was no time for curiosity.  Four of us were pressing in close so we could observe the chicken preparation fist hand.  My younger brother, fifth in line from the top, Herschel was closest to Dad.  Hershel always was a curious chap.

This was a bad day.  We pressed so close Dad could not navigate his process.  He slammed his fist on the table and said in his terrifying voice, “Get back!”  We did, for a moment or two.  Hershel was the first to press his curiosity again.

My father exploded, something the Nazi’s in Germany had learned to fear, He grabbed Hershel by the back of his head and he grabbed the full tub of Crisco with the other hand and smashed Hershel’s face into the Crisco, smearing it onto Hershel’s face.

Dad enunciated every word in his staccato voice, “I” “TOLD” “YOU” “TO” “GET” “BACK”.   Then he pushed the humiliated child away from the table.  Hershel was six years old when this happened.  His life changed that day.

So what happened?  How do we pigeon hole this? Do we say child abuse?  Did the father teach the son an important lesson about following instructions.  As a mere observer at age ten, what did I learn?  Is this violence?  Did Hershel learn to respect his elders?  Did I learn to respect my elders?  Do events like this contribute to an already challenged mental health diagnosis?

When we mix the stew of life while growing up can we assert that the behavior in this example contributed to mental illness – is this the “nurture” part of life?

Is this the nostalgic world some politicians hope to return us?

This story has haunted me for fifty years – it is the first time I have recounted that day of horror.

I have no doubt that my father loved us.  I imagine my father was also a victim – a victim of poverty, a victim of no education, a victim of the Depression, a victim of World War Two, a victim of an alcoholic father, a victim of child abuse himself.

I am not excusing his behavior.  I am merely trying to understand what in the world happened to me along the way of my life.


There Is 1 Response So Far. »

  1. Literally I am in tears…. Not just by your telling of an event in your life, but because there were too many such events like it in my own. Tears because even today my attempts to understand by verbalizing or writing about are degraded to ‘Trashing our Mother’ by my siblings. I am vilified by them because their attempts create Sainthood for her are tarnished by my truthful statements about an individual who was imperfect in many ways. Thank you for the story, though. It helps me understand I am not alone.

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