I was born in 1981. The boom of the eighties was in full swing and the economy was better for most than for the many. I was born to a former Marine from Clarksburg, WV and a mother from Parkersburg, WV. I also was born with a big brother who was 2 years older than me. He gave me my nickname B.J. after the show, “BJ and the Bear.” That name stuck with me from the time I was born until I left to join the military. We grew up mainly in Parkersburg and moved around a lot. The only real place that ever felt like home was when we lived in Belpre, Ohio. Its right a crossed the river from Parkersburg. I spent Kindergarten and First Grade there. Very good schools and made many friends. In Kindergarten we lived in a mobile home down by the Ohio river. I remember being into matchbox and hotwheels. My dad was really into model cars and was fascinated more with the old 50’s models. It started early with me, loving cars and motorcycles. One of the cars I remember my dad having was an old Duster. It was a light brown with a dark brown roof. There was the first time I got a bike and learned how to ride, my father found it in the trash and spent the money fixing it up. My dad was very handy with his hands and could do just about anything. He even built a tree house for me that my brother and I used to spend most of our days in. By this time it was my brother, me, and my younger brother. My youngest brother is 4 years younger than me. By the time I was in first grade we moved to a real house closer to school and I had my own room. That Christmas was when music became more than just something I listened too. Its when I fell in love with the idea of music. My dad was able to find an upright radio with a tape cassette and a 45 built in. It was delivered on Christmas day by the mail man. Things seemed to change about this time with my family. We moved into another house that didn’t seem as nice as the one before. I wasn’t very keen on knowing where my dad worked or anything like that. I just know he did. We owned a 69 Chevy Nova that was Cherry Red and an old 80’s station wagon. Most days I would sit in my room and listen to Debbie Gibson and other 80’s rock bands. Its funny how much of an impact that radio and the 80’s still has on my today. We used to laugh a lot back then….the house we lived in was rat infested and we used to get a lot of roaches from the river. I remember my parents being very clean, but I remember sitting at the kitchen table before school watching the rats running from cabinet to cabinet and every now and then you could see there heads pop up.
As with anything in my life I learned a lot from these past events. These are just the basis of my childhood. But one thing that God gave me was the ability to remember smells, faces, memories even 30 years later. The first 7 years of my life were typical of a poverty family in the 80’s living in these areas in America. I don’t blame my parents, they did the best they could with what they had. But after this moment…life would change.
It was the summer that I turned 7…I was going into the 2nd grade when the moment that would change my outlook on life. Yes at 7 I had an outlook on life. That summer my mother left. It was just my dad and us boys fending for ourselves. We moved in with my Aunt in Uncle for a short while as my dad figured things out. We moved back a crossed the river to Parkersburg and live in a nice apartment. I remember going to McKinley Elementary. Was one of the best schools I ever went too. That was a good year. My brother and me would frequently visit the Boys Club and I learned how to swim, play pool, skate, play basketball, and how to shoot a bow and arrow. We spent most of our time at the Boys Club in Parkersburg. I don’t really remember my father struggling, but I think at a point he couldn’t take care of us on his own anymore and we went to live with my aunt and uncle in Vienna, WV. I spent my entire 3rd grade living with them. It was the year I fell in love with Ninja Turtles and Crossword Puzzles. I also had the opportunity to go to another amazing school.
While living with my Aunt and Uncle the dynamic of how we were raised was different. And I found out more about why my mom left. Later I would understand, but she felt that she had kids too young and that she didn’t get to experience that time and have fun. I get that now having kids, but the responsibility of having kids never goes away unless you give it up.
I don’t know how but we ended up living with my mom again. I do remember he coming to pick us up from my Aunt and Uncles. We were living in an apartment in Lynn Street in Parkersburg and I was going back to McKinley Elementary again for my 4th grade year. We were living in a house on Lynn Street which wasn’t far from the school and from familiar places. My mom had a boyfriend at the time. He drove a 1990 Chevy Camaro Z28…one of my most favorite cars of all times. We were there very long before we moved to south Parkersburg and I starting going to school at Ryan Elementary. We lived in a nice big white house that was 2 stories. Mom had a different boyfriend at this time. Then we ended up living in a Hotel for some time and was still going to the same school. I would get up each morning to get my older brother up and ready and my youngest brother up and ready for school. I remember one night we were at our baby sitters house just a few doors down. My brothers were sleeping and not sure why I couldn’t sleep, but I remember seeing my mom come in the hotel room. I remember the conversation like it was yesterday. She explained to the baby sitter that my father was working at a restaurant not far from the Hotel and that she was leaving town and that we should be put in a cab and sent to my Fathers place of work. Then she left……We were then woken up and we went to our hotel room and packed up all of our stuff and was put in a cab. We were then dropped off at the Restaurant. My dad came out side, very upset and angry, he took us in the restaurant and we sat in a booth and waited. It was a familiar place. The Filling Station, my grandma worked there and so did my dad. We were put in another cab with my Father and headed a crossed town. We went into an apartment and beds were made for us on the floor. It was a long night and my dad was talking with another woman about what to do. The next morning we woke up to my dads other family. The woman I heard last night and her 2 daughters and 1 son. It was the first time I played Mario Brothers on the Nintendo that morning and the beginning of a new adventure with my Father.
I hold in high regards the choices that my parents made while I was growing up. At the time I didn’t understand most of them and even to this day I don’t understand how a mother could just leave her kids to a baby sitter and never be heard from for many years. I still try to piece together why my dad left us to our Aunt and Uncle and wonder why I went to live with my mom instead. Between Kindergarten and 4th Grade I moved 11 times and went to 6 different schools. Its a wonder I didn’t have any friends and how most of my life I have blocked people out of my life in fear of getting attached only to lose them. I look back now and realize that parts of my childhood was good and I don’t think it would have been without my brothers there. I really stepped up and took care of those two. At 8 years old I was making full scale breakfast because my mom wouldn’t get home until real late in the morning and I would make sure they were dressed and ready for the day.
I know I left out a lot of things, but wanted to keep this brief. There are a lot of details that are still like opened wounds and others that aren’t important to detail. In a nutshell…those details will be talked about at a later date.