…Mindi felt abandoned as you might imagine! Mindi didn’t know why she was left behind until years later. We, on our end, asked our mom and she always said she was saving up money to bring her back. We argued the fact many times but only ever got the same vague answer…

Mindi lived with my father, Norman and his wife Della and their 2 children, Cheryl and Carol. They all lived with our Grandma Vi in California for awhile and then moved to Cochise Arizona, not too far from Sierra Vista and Tuscon.  They lived on a ranch that Della’s mom owned.  Norman and Della eventually had 3 more children.  Vincent, Loretta and Elaine…

Mindy hated living on the ranch.  She was disgusted by the fact that the tub would have a back up of sewage in it so often, that she didn’t feel comfortable taking a bath.  Also, the fact that there were so many grasshoppers around,  you would literally wake up with them in your bed! 

She stayed with our father for a couple of years until he decided that she was too boy crazy and he couldn’t put up with her any more.  She was shipped back to New Jersey at the age of 15 to be reunited with us in Rumson where we lived with our mom and Dad O’Neill.  This was a small 2 story home that we lived in before Dad O’Neill and mom decided to move back to my mom’s home town in Atlantic Highlands N.J.

Rumson home (below)

 

Now, Dad O’Neill was the father of Cindy (Cyd), our baby sister whom our mom was pregnant with when she came to get us from California. Dad O’Neill was a great dad. He was a little rough around the edges, but he was a kind, considerate, open hearted person who only had our best interests at heart and he really loved our mom.  He would come with us to the beach and on picnics when we planned family outings. (Some dad’s don’t do this you know, sometimes opting out to stay home and mow the lawn, go to work, or clean their underwear drawer!) He knew about Mindi and wanted all the kids to be reunited but wasn’t aware of all of us kid’s until well after he married my mom and she was pregnant with his child. He was fine with having her come to live with us, he just felt pressured by the fact that there would be another mouth to feed and another body to clothe.  I remember mom and dad O’Neill arguing about her coming to stay with us, but we were all very excited to reunite with her.  We prepared a bed for her in one of the already crowded bedrooms we shared and went to meet her at the airport.

attic room 24 39 Attic Rooms Cleverly Making Use of All Available Space

  …and she was just as happy to see us!

While we lived in Rumson, New Jersey, we lived next door to my best friend in the whole wide world, Cathy Logue.  Her family lived in a really neat old house. 

They had a balcony inside their home overlooking the living room. We used to jump off the balcony to the living room couch below.  Mabel, the house maid, used to freak out! “You girls stop that! Do you hear!? You are going to break your necks!!!” We listened for all of 5 minutes until she turned her back to do something or other around the house, then we were at it again!

There were 3 girls in Cathy’s family. Janey, Suzie and Cathy.  They lived with their mom, Virginia. I don’t remember any dad in the picture.  They were very friendly and we loved to have them for overnights.  Bambi and I were friends with Cathy, Shelly and Mindi were friends with Suzie and Janey was older and married at that time.

Cathy and I were inseparable.   We were a grade apart. She was in 3rd and I was in 4th. We did everything together. We played on the playground at the school that was a few blocks down the road from our house. I had a friend I could tell anything to, and she to me…
We shared everything. 

 We made a fort from one of the trees that hung it’s branches low over a small stream that ran between the Grammar school and the Middle school.  We were tomboys together and we loved it. The freedom we felt at that time in our life was awesome and we defended it fiercely!  We named our fort “Zega” and we carved the name into the bark of the beloved tree.  We brought our favorite stuffed animal with us to use for a pillow while we read fairy tales to each other.

We dangled our legs into the water and created an imaginary world that only we lived in together.  The days were lovely…

and the nights we got to spend together at sleep overs were full of laughs and love and shared secrets.

A couple of years later we moved to my mom’s home town in Atlantic Highlands N.J.  There we found a beautiful, 3 story, Victorian home that Dad O’Neill purchased through a loan from the bank. This  large family home is remembered fondly and continues to fill my dreams…

Cathy and I stayed friends throughout it all, though. We visited each other when she moved to Brielle N.J.  and eventually they moved to Atlantic Highlands! Cathy and I would visit each other often, we both had children at this time (Laura was my little 2 year old and Lana was Cathy’s 3 year old) and our little girls got to play together, too!

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