Diggings: Level 11

Towson was a small town and my school, Immaculate Conception was perched up on a hill above a cemetery. On winter days when we enjoyed the rare snowfall, we would find discarded cardboard boxes and make “sleds” to slide down the hill into the cemetery!

It was quite a feat to dodge the monuments. Our lunches were eaten in the shed – an open front wooden structure which was our only protection from the weather in the winter. But it never seemed to bother us. Hardy children that we were. We played kick ball during lunch hour and our bases were next to the immense water tower that served the needs of Towson. Once I fell during a run to bases and hit my head on a rock. I had amnesia for the day and scored amazingly well on my math test. Far better than I would have, had I not rearranged my brain.
But to return to the cemetery: we found it fascinating to peek inside the old mausoleums with their sagging, rusting metal doors. Curious little archaeologists, we imagined seeing skeletal remains and after a moment or two, screamed in fear and fled.

I was reminded of these childhood events when, in Turkey, the crew would uncover burials that, because of their antiquity, should have seemed far removed from the present. Yet there was a certain sadness about revealing what had been so carefully buried ten thousand years ago and there were moments when I felt I was trespassing on the long-dead.

The largest drawback to living in a borrowed home was a terrible feeling of alienation at times. There was little or no love or attention shown to little “Nettie”, a horrible nickname with absolutely no character! But one finds affection where one can and when bouts of sadness would hit me, off I would run to the stable where I would spend those long hours talking to Little Joe and tweaking the whiskers under his “chin”. He would close his eyes and give a happy little snort from time to time.

Weekends were spent at horse shows where Arle would inevitably win several ribbons or trophies. Uncle Hugo, also an accomplished horseman, would come home with ever more trophies as well. I would spend my time wandering about watching people and buying chicken salad sandwiches provided by the Ladies of Green Spring Valley Club or something of that sort. When I wanted to rest in the shade, I would sit with Aunt Burt in the 1939 Hudson or Cadillac and listen to the Metropolitan Opera broadcast on the car radio. A marvelous background to the horse activity all around us.

Or we would attend a Point-to-Point race. When once we were seated on a blanket spread out on a rise, I recall saying to a man sitting next to me, “Oh my, how these horses perspire.” He looked at me with a little smile and said, “Young lady, always remember, horses do not perspire, they sweat!” This lovely man was a friend of Burt’s and Hugo’s and his name was Glenn L. Martin, which of course meant nothing to me at the time. But when the second world war was raging, it was brought to mind that he was the manufacturer of the Martin Bombers.

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