Sometimes I yearn to return to it. It was just a small, seven by eleven-foot room located in the west corner of my parents’ home in Hobart, IN. I was four years old when I was introduced to it. The walls were calamine pink and were made of thick plaster, with little pricklies that would stick me if I brushed too close to it. Two long windows were draped in faded brown material. A slight protrusion in the ceiling above my bed created the silhouette of an ugly witch that tormented me nightly until my mother would bring me warm milk. Other nights I remained restless; this was because after the lights were out Gargoyle-like monsters would peek and snicker at me from the closet when the door was left ajar.
Because of this restlessness, Mama hung a lighted picture of Jesus on the wall close to my bed to protect me. On the wall opposite my bed displayed pictures of various sizes: Cinderella, Snow White, Mickey Mouse, and the entire collection of the Northern Tissue Girls.I lost track of the coats of paint that covered and re-covered those walls during my growing years, but the accumulation smoothed the surface somewhat so I was able to snuggle close to it to cool off during the hot summer months. When Papa finally patched up the ceiling, I was dispirited and confused for quite some time–not knowing whether it was the tormenting witch that I missed, or the warm milk and hug.
During this transitional stage, my toys and dolls were shoved from one corner of the room to the other and finally dumped in a large green bag that eventually vanished.
Furniture began to clutter my room — a large mahogany chest of drawers, a dresser of cherry wood, and a new twin bed with an oak headboard. With all of these luxuries crunched together, I had to shuffle sideways to leave the room. Despite its crowded quarters, it was all mine and I loved it. Its thick plaster wall muffled the sound of my occasional sniffs and sobs of self-pity and the sounds of the transistor radio that lulled me to sleep afterward.
Decorating was difficult to do well on our low family budget, but after careful scrutiny, I gleefully tore down the tissue paper queens and replaced them with centerfold pictures of Frankie Avalon, Elvis Presley, and James Dean. To bring these photos to life, a record player was added to the clutter in my room. It was the portable type in a suitcase and was difficult to place, but it finally found a home at the foot of my bed, which made it even more difficult to open the closet door; this was O.K., though, because I hadn’t forgotten about the monsters in the closet.
It’s amazing what versatility the common twin bed could offer. It served as a chair, a desk, a clothes rack, a ladder, a safe for my diary, and of course, a place to sleep. Even my favorite pillow developed secrets of its own. When stripped of its cover, it unveiled (with various hearts, stars, exclamation marks, and careless scratch-offs) names of boys who didn’t even know I existed. The space under my bed was not ignored; it housed fifty ‘Teen magazines, seventy-five 45 rpm records, ten record albums, various notebooks, two poetry books, and a torn-out page from Better Homes and Gardens of the huge bedroom I longed to have someday.
My bedroom remained untouched for a long time after I left home – almost as if it were trying to lure me back. Quite frightened, I did return to it the night before my wedding. I smiled at my famous friends on the wall when my attention fell upon something above the door. I laughed hysterically. It was etched in wood: “Sharon Loves ___ Forever.” I realized then that some things do change.
Late that night I clicked on my lighted Jesus picture and lay in bed, thinking of patched-up witches, haunted closets, and warm milk. I wondered if I would ever again have another room where dreams were limitless and life had no boundaries.
Hoosier Horizon magazine 1990
HS Hoosier Storybook 2002
Copyright Library of Congress 1985/02
**The above printed material is copyrighted, is registered with the Library of Congress and is the property of Sharon Palmeri. Permission is needed before use. Thank you! *S* **
ARTWORK BY: Unknown
Loved this story! I remember times and feelings much the same. So many adventures I remember that were woven into a rich tapastry growing up. Were my children able to weave as rich a tapasty of life when they missed out on so many simple life experiences? I guess I’ll never know unless I start open discussions with my children to learn the differences between their years and mine. Thank you so much for the delightful tale of your youth! I’d better get started!
How true it is, no matter from what corner of the world we come from, the image of that room of childhood dreams etched into the landscape of our memory keeps on shining our pathways. Thanks for sharing a beautiful episode of your life journey with us all.
As I read this story I could almost hear your voice reading it. Such good memories you have of times gone by, and such a good way of sharing it through this story.
Wonderful to read this story!