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Posts Tagged ‘Randallstown MD – 1970’s and 1980’s’

Some memories can never be forgotten; they are held tightly in the recesses of the mind.

Somewhere in late elementary school and early junior high school, I figured out that biking was the best way for me to be socially and emotionally safe.  I loved to bike and I was blessed to live in the most fabulous neighborhood for biking.

For me, biking was freedom; as long as I rode my bike I knew I was safe from the perilous experiences of being home.  So, I chose to bike often.

After one of my bike rides, I rode up to my house to find a Swat Team surrounding my house.  The experience was pretty surreal. As an awkward young teenager, I stopped to ask the police officer why a swat team was surrounding my house.  The police officer told me that my mother had called the police to say that gunmen had taken my brother downstairs; she was really quite terrified.

The scene could have been out of a one of the cop TV shows that were so popular in the mid to late seventies; the only challenge (well not really) was that my brother wasn’t actually in the script.  He was a paratrooper in the Israeli army and he hadn’t been in the States for a very long time at that point.

The look in the police officer’s face when I told him about my brother’s whereabouts would have been comical if I hadn’t felt totally mortified at the story that was unfolding.

I am not certain how long the scene lasted.  My guess is that once I told the officer that my brother wasn’t even in this country, it probably wrapped up fairly quickly.  While I wasn’t in the house when all unfolded, I will never forget the years of nightmares that followed.  For years, I re-winded the scene in my head and had nightmares as if my brother really had been held captive.  My brother was everything to me, the thought of losing him was devastating back then and still is to this day.

~ ~ ~

Facing mental illness is absolutely horrific for any family.  My mother was emotionally and mentally a very sick woman who had little or no control over her actions during much of my childhood.  The good news is that regardless of what I endured. . .  I survived, I thrived, and I was always able to keep moving forward.

Resiliency!

Another blessing is that with all I endured, I ultimately emerged as someone who chooses to make the world a better place.  If injustice is happening, I will do my part to make things better.  If I hear about abuse, I try to make certain the right people/organization becomes notified and the situation has a chance of getting the help it needs.  When I met a pregnant, homeless woman with a young child, my family took her in for months until we found her the right placement.  When a friend of mine had brain cancer, my older son and I went to St. Cloud, Minnesota to help care for her and her son.  When I am called to help someone in need or to provide shelter for a traumatized human being, I do it!

I learned from watching the world around me. Most people didn’t lift a finger to help me.  My guess is that they felt helpless or didn’t know what to do. My hope is that people now have their eyes open a little wider and are quicker to do their part.

One of the challenges of mental illness coupled with domestic violence is that, as a neighbor, you may just not notice.  I am not sure how this could have been so especially during the seventies when everyone was playing outside and windows were always wide open.

~ ~ ~

After the police and Swat Team realized my brother was safe and no gunmen could be found, they left.  Surreal.  My mother never really did get the help she needed.

My prayer for today is that this situation would never end that way. May we all be blessed with the capacity to reach out and help and if we can’t help, find someone who can.

BTW, I still love bikes, biking, and photos of bikes. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Randall- Tel Aviv Beach

BTW, I still love bikes, biking, and photos of bikes.
Photo courtesy of Stephanie Randall-
Tel Aviv Beach

Note: Why did I remember this story now? The community I grew up in has a Facebook page, Randallstown, MD – 1970’s and 1980’s,  that suddenly became really active. With that some of my childhood memories have flooded back to me.  At one point, I saw the name of the person who was biking with me on the day of the ‘incident’.  I am not 100% certain he came back with me to the house that day, but I think so. Anyway, judging by his Facebook page, he has grown in very different ways than me. . . so I am not reaching out at this time.   But the memory of this once very special friend brought back the memory of the story above.

 

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Liberty Road Shopping Center Courtesy of Maryland State Road Commission 1967

Liberty Road Shopping Center
Courtesy of Maryland State Road Commission 1967

Sweet memories are starting to form.

I was born and raised outside Baltimore in a fabulous suburb called Randallstown.  Randallstown was an awesome place to grow up for most people.

In the last 48 hours, I have had an amazing experience reconnecting with my Randallstown memories.  For three decades, I nearly never went back; I needed to heal from the a violent childhood that had little to do with my Pikeswood neighborhood and everything to do with what was going on in childhood home.  After three decades of healing, I am loving the memories that are now flooding my senses.  Caplan’s Deli, Baltimore County Public Library, Read’s Drugstore, Liberty Road Bowling (I can’t remember the name), Caples, Beth Israel Congregation, and so much more.

My first job outside of babysitting and a family business was scooping ice cream at Carvels; I loved that job.  And later I pumped gas at Crown Gas; I never could handle the money correctly.  Along that corridor, I also worked as a waitress at an all you can eat restaurant, a cashier at Tangier’s Crab House, and babysat whenever I could.  I learned a lot on the Liberty Road Corridor of my youth.

For the first time in so very long, Randallstown and the community I lived in is putting a huge smile on my face.  The stories are endless.  I wonder where all my neighbors have gone; I wonder about my old friends, the teachers we had, and the shopkeepers that we all knew by name.

I wish I could remember all the names of the roads.  For 10 years or more of my childhood, my bike was my safe escape; I used to bike on the road between Randallstown Senior High School to Deer Park Junior High.  The road didn’t go through, but that didn’t matter, we biked it anyway.  Not even the threat of being shot at by a bee-bee gun from one of the neighbors made us stop, we just rode as fast as we could.  I loved my neighborhood!

What’s funny is looking at the active Facebook page, and seeing so many names I can’t quite remember, but know that I know. 🙂 It has also been fun to reconnect with a few old friends/neighbors.  I am having a blast watching our memories go into overdrive.

While I missed out on a lot of my childhood due to whatever I was facing at home, I feel blessed to be remembering life outside my home now.  I really grew up in an amazing neighborhood.

And then there was Ms. Pfeiffer. . . 

Due to the Facebook page, one funny memory keeps coming back up.  While it isn’t the most important, it is a riot that so many of us remember THAT teacher.

On Facebook, where I am connecting to my old neighborhood, one person asked, “Does anyone remember Ms Pfeiffer? That teacher was so mean to me.” And with that the memories came flooding back.   Ms. Pfeiffer was mean to me too – so mean.  In the end, I became really disobedient when I was in her class. . . .I learned to push her buttons. She may have been the only vile teacher I remember growing up. Maybe.

My little cousin, made the mistake of going into Ms. Pfeiffer’s class during his first day of class and saying, “didn’t you have my cousin Toni Bloomberg (changed my name)?” He had a horrible year after that.

Funny, I had never been so disobedient before her and never after her. But it was with her that I decided to stick up for myself and push the envelope. Mostly I did this quietly, but I pushed back.

She used to make me write 100 times something like I should not talk in homeroom. I vaguely think the sentences were longer than that. In response, I decided to write her notes about what I really thought of her arbitrary rules.  Other times I wrote random sentences just to piss her off. It worked.

The good news is that she taught me resilience and how to advocate for myself.

The best part of the conversation about Ms. Pfeiffer is that I now know that I wasn’t alone.  I didn’t know that so many, if not all, of us found her to be vile. Wow!

We all grew up. . . .

Now that I am reconnecting to my roots, I am also reconnecting to some of my friends and acquaintances that were part of my Randallstown days.

One of the funniest things that I am realizing is that most of us have evolved.  Or maybe we have devolved (is that a word)?

Yesterday, I started thinking about what would it be like for a bunch of us to meet at Maria’s Pizzeria; I used to love that place!!!  The only problem is that at nearly 50 years old, my food choices are quite different and so is the way I think.  Here are some of my realities and preferences:

  • I am krunchy granola and full of passion.
  • I live as a progressive Jew – love the music, the learning, the practices, and the stories.
  • In 2002, I was diagnosed with celiac disease; I am now gluten-free (not to be cool).
  • Love quiet energy, small cafes, walks along the water or in the woods, and every now and then I love to hang with larger groups of friends.
  • I literally never stop thinking about the larger world – what can I do? progressive politics for here and Israel, workers rights, modern day slavery, the list goes on and on…
  • I am a writer – now and always.
  • Unfortunately, I don’t run 10 miles a day, I have had a few pregnancies, and my body shape isn’t what it was.  And yet I love what it is!
  • Oh, and I used to be Toni Bloomberg – I can’t wait to see people wrap their head around that. 🙂

I am not the same person I was and nor is anyone else.  And chances are if people haven’t changed much, I won’t have much to say.  Since I am a work in progress – now and always. Aren’t we all?

In this moment, I am so grateful to whoever started the Facebook page called Randallstown, MD – 1970’s and 1980’s and to Frank Davis for posting the picture above just a couple of days ago.  The memories have really brought me home to a neighborhood that was full of gifts.

 

“There are places I remember all my life
Though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain

All these places have their moments
Of lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I loved them all”

Written by Paul McCartney and John Lennon

 

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