The Catholic Church promoted procreation in hopes that those of the faith would demographically overwhelm the other religions. My mother was a devout Catholic. She gave birth to six children through the 1950s. Our family car was a Ford station wagon and my father child-proofed the spacious car by affixing aluminum tubes to the windows. Other motorists regarded the pale blue vehicle as undercover transport for the Maine reform school system.
I stared back at them with prison eyes, even if my parents were taking us to Old Orchard Beach, the Pine Tree's State playground by the sea. The other drivers' expressions shifted from pity to horror, as they wondered what heinous crime had been committed by the children incarcerated in the Ford station wagon.
"The youngest convicts in Maine," my grandmother joked every time we departed from her house in Westbrook and I sat in the back planning my escape. None of my attempts succeeded in gaining freedom. My father and mother were vigilant, but on one trip from Boston I wandered from the family car at a rest stop to go the bathroom. when I came out of the toilet, the Ford wasn't in the parking lot.
Free at last and within two seconds I was near tears. I was seven. Kids my age were told every day to not speak with strangers and now I was surrounded by only strangers. Luckily a toll booth operator spotted me before a band of gypsies kidnapped me for the carnival. They waved from their Cadillac carnival.
Ten minutes later my father returned to the rest area at 100 mph.
Top speed for the Ford.
I was glad to see him and sat back in the moving cell with relief.
Freedom would have to wait until I was ready for it.
At age 11.
By then I would be ready to run away and join the circus.