A Moving Experience

By

A Moving Experience
A Moving Experience

I was thirteen years old when the world around me seemed to crumble. My Dad had been transferred from Newark, New Jersey, where we were all born and had lived all of our lives, to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. How could I ever live without my grandparents who helped to raise me, without my friends and all the familiar places I had grown to love? Yeah, I know what you are thinking…I was lucky to leave Newark! Actually, I was, but at the time it was terribly traumatic.

Moving away anytime is an awkward adjustment for anyone, but when you are in high school, it is really the pits! I left Newark in the middle of my freshman year, and no sooner began to fall in love with my new hometown, Springfield, Pennsylvania, along with all the good looking guys in my class, when my parents announced another transfer nine months later. I couldn’t believe it. I thought they were kidding, and when they told me where we were going, I thought they were nuts! Florence, South Carolina, was where the new Union Carbide plant was going to be built, so that is where my Dad was being sent, with us in tow.

Oh my God, South Carolina conjured up cornfields, children running barefoot through green pastures and milking cows. I was a city girl. All I could do for weeks was cry. So did my mom. All my Springfield buddies gave me a huge party and promised to keep in touch, but that did not ease the pain. They even showed up on moving day to help us pack the moving van, but that seemed to make matters worse.

Six hundred miles later as we approached the South Carolina border, the rural communities and farmland sent me into a full fledged depression. I found no humor in Pedro’s quirky “South of the Border” billboards that lined I-95 for miles. So this is South Carolina? Yuk.

This was 1966. What I was soon to find out was there were very few Northerners to ever take up residence in Florence. On my first day of school, which was October of my sophomore year, one of the kids said she had never met a Yankee before, and asked me if I was a carpetbagger? Heck, I did not even know what a Yankee was, much less a carpetbagger! When I told my parents, they couldn’t believe it. The next day, as I tried to talk to a girl in the lunch-line, she asked me what church would I be attending, a question no one up North had ever asked me. When I answered the Catholic Church, I could tell by her scrunched up face that this was a very unpopular answer for a town with a Baptist Church on every corner. I knew I was doomed.

To top it all off, and as I look back on it now, I looked like someone from outer space to all of them. I was wearing mini-skirts, patterned hose and heels and pull over sweaters. My Southern counterparts were decked out in long skirts below the knee, button down shirts and Mary-Janes. Yes, they all snickered as I walked down the hall to my classes, where the girls seemed to snub me, and the boys seemed very intrigued, which made the girls snub me all the more. It was torture.

A month later, I had made friends at church, but the girls in school wouldn’t give me an inch, even when I tried to dress more like them. I knew that I had to reach out to make my own friends. I had to be the aggressor, the one to make the move because they sure did not want to have anything to do with me. My new goal was to talk to everyone, every chance I got, in class, at lunch, join clubs, kiss butt!

One day in gym class, I got really brave and started a conversation with Lyn Haselden, the most popular coed at McClenaghan High. She was beautiful, and as luck would have it, beautiful inside as well, as she invited me to a pajama party at her house on Friday night. It was that single act of kindness that opened the doors for me. Her approval made the others give me a chance to move into what had been forbidden territory…the inner circle. Today, she and I are still the greatest of friends.

My senior year I became a cheerleader, an elected position, and was named “Most Friendly” by the 478 kids in my senior class, something I was incredibly proud of, not because I made so many friends, but because I BECAME THE FRIEND who welcomed every single kid who was new to the school. I knew how it felt to be the outsider. I knew the loneliness of missing the acceptance once had back home.

It was a battle being the new kid on the block, especially being a “Catholic Yankee Carpetbagger mini-skirted extraterrestrial,” but what I learned was that in life you can’t wait for what you want or hope something is going to happen. You have to help to make it happen. You have to go after it. And when it comes to welcoming a new family to the neighborhood, or helping someone new in town network through the community to find a job, I’m there! This “moving experience” of moving away from the security of HOME and friends and family, was a “moving experience” for me. It moved me to be a better person, and isn’t that what we should do with all negative things in our lives?

Squeeze those lemons and make lemonade!

About this writer

  • A Moving Experience

    I was thirteen years old when the world around me seemed to crumble. My Dad had been transferred from Newark, New Jersey, where we were all born and had lived all of our lives, to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. How could I ever live without my grandparents who helped to raise me, without my friends and all the familiar places I had grown to love? Yeah, I know what you are thinking…I was lucky to leave Newark! Actually, I was, but at the time it was terribly traumatic.

    Moving away anytime is an awkward adjustment for anyone, but when you are in high school, it is really the pits! I left Newark in the middle of my freshman year, and no sooner began to fall in love with my new hometown, Springfield, Pennsylvania, along with all the good looking guys in my class, when my parents announced another transfer nine months later. I couldn’t believe it. I thought they were kidding, and when they told me where we were going, I thought they were nuts! Florence, South Carolina, was where the new Union Carbide plant was going to be built, so that is where my Dad was being sent, with us in tow.

    Oh my God, South Carolina conjured up cornfields, children running barefoot through green pastures and milking cows. I was a city girl. All I could do for weeks was cry. So did my mom. All my Springfield buddies gave me a huge party and promised to keep in touch, but that did not ease the pain. They even showed up on moving day to help us pack the moving van, but that seemed to make matters worse.

    Six hundred miles later as we approached the South Carolina border, the rural communities and farmland sent me into a full fledged depression. I found no humor in Pedro’s quirky “South of the Border” billboards that lined I-95 for miles. So this is South Carolina? Yuk.

    This was 1966. What I was soon to find out was there were very few Northerners to ever take up residence in Florence. On my first day of school, which was October of my sophomore year, one of the kids said she had never met a Yankee before, and asked me if I was a carpetbagger? Heck, I did not even know what a Yankee was, much less a carpetbagger! When I told my parents, they couldn’t believe it. The next day, as I tried to talk to a girl in the lunch-line, she asked me what church would I be attending, a question no one up North had ever asked me. When I answered the Catholic Church, I could tell by her scrunched up face that this was a very unpopular answer for a town with a Baptist Church on every corner. I knew I was doomed.

    To top it all off, and as I look back on it now, I looked like someone from outer space to all of them. I was wearing mini-skirts, patterned hose and heels and pull over sweaters. My Southern counterparts were decked out in long skirts below the knee, button down shirts and Mary-Janes. Yes, they all snickered as I walked down the hall to my classes, where the girls seemed to snub me, and the boys seemed very intrigued, which made the girls snub me all the more. It was torture.

    A month later, I had made friends at church, but the girls in school wouldn’t give me an inch, even when I tried to dress more like them. I knew that I had to reach out to make my own friends. I had to be the aggressor, the one to make the move because they sure did not want to have anything to do with me. My new goal was to talk to everyone, every chance I got, in class, at lunch, join clubs, kiss butt!

    One day in gym class, I got really brave and started a conversation with Lyn Haselden, the most popular coed at McClenaghan High. She was beautiful, and as luck would have it, beautiful inside as well, as she invited me to a pajama party at her house on Friday night. It was that single act of kindness that opened the doors for me. Her approval made the others give me a chance to move into what had been forbidden territory…the inner circle. Today, she and I are still the greatest of friends.

    My senior year I became a cheerleader, an elected position, and was named “Most Friendly” by the 478 kids in my senior class, something I was incredibly proud of, not because I made so many friends, but because I BECAME THE FRIEND who welcomed every single kid who was new to the school. I knew how it felt to be the outsider. I knew the loneliness of missing the acceptance once had back home.

    It was a battle being the new kid on the block, especially being a “Catholic Yankee Carpetbagger mini-skirted extraterrestrial,” but what I learned was that in life you can’t wait for what you want or hope something is going to happen. You have to help to make it happen. You have to go after it. And when it comes to welcoming a new family to the neighborhood, or helping someone new in town network through the community to find a job, I’m there! This “moving experience” of moving away from the security of HOME and friends and family, was a “moving experience” for me. It moved me to be a better person, and isn’t that what we should do with all negative things in our lives?

    Squeeze those lemons and make lemonade!

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