FIFTH IN A SERIES
I've been away for three days, and intend to get back to Jim Perrine's story, but I'd like to use this entry to tell you about my small connection with his family. It may not be as interesting as the story he tells, but you need to know how he has opened up the past to shed a new light on some of my former neighbors.
When we moved to rural Wellington in 1975, our nearest neighbors were Bonita and Ronnie Pitts; Bonnie was Jim's sister. about whom he writes at one point in his narrative:
"My sister Bonita has not been mentioned thus far, so I will tell you about her now: She was born when we were living on the river bottoms on June 9, 1940. She experienced the things I have talked about in my writings. When Bonnie was an infant, she contracted what amounted to pneumonia and almost died. My folks took her to a chiropractic physician, Dr. Gross, after being told by an MD that he couldn't help her. What Dr. Gross did for my sister allowed her to overcome the illness, and he became our "family doctor" after that. His office was in Levasy, Missouri. Bonnie graduated Wellington school in 1958. She married Ron Pitts in 1960 and bore three children: Don, Ronda, and Kevin." (After reading this entry, Ronda told me her mom (Bonita) only weighed two pounds when she was born, and could fit in a cracker box.)
Bonita came over and introduced herself within the first week of our living here. She and Ronnie had three kids, two of them older than my children and one younger. I've never been an easy person to get close to: I'm often a loner, and I march (or meander) to my own drummer, so I don't make the best neighbor for anyone; but Bonnie and the kids never seemed to let that bother them or scare them away. They were a major part of my life when the children were growing up, in large part because of their musical ability. They loved country music and were all quite talented. I had many good times singing with Donnie and Ronda, and once bought an old, junk piano so when they came over to sing, Donnie could play piano to accompany our singing. I miss those times.
Living on the other side of the Pitts family were Marie and Oliver Perrine, Jim Perrine's parents. Marie was as sweet a neighbor you could ever ask for. At Christmas she brought us peanut brittle. In summer she shared her pickled green tomatoes with us. Oliver and Marie kept a sharp eye on the neighborhood, and nothing got past them. Cliff's cousin once had some furniture temporarily stored in out garage. We were both at work the day the cousin came to pick up his belongings, and Marie called Cliff at work to let him know somebody was taking things from our garage.
So you can imagine how fascinated I've been to read about the hard times Bonnie and Marie went through in the past. My parents were poor when I growing up, but I've never gone through the sort of traumatic experiences the Perrine family had while living on the river bottoms.
One thing my parents had in common with Marie and Oliver, though, was this: They paid their bills.
I intend to get back to Jim's story today or tomorrow.