#6 (Norfolk VA Part 1)

No more Chicago. While I was up in Maine at camp, my parents had packed up everything in Chicago and had begun the retreat to Norfolk. I honestly can’t remember how I got from New York to Norfolk, but I can remember when we got there, we were going to stay with my father’s Aunt Mary. She had been a nurse for years and years but seemed to be declining a bit. But all the neighbors and police knew her so that she never got in trouble. She would drive home and leave the car parked in the middle of the street in front of the house. Someone always seemed to move it for her without any fuss. The main thing I remember when she came into the kitchen and hung her coat on a hook in the wall, but there was no hook! That was when mother had to kick me under the table not to say anything. Our stay with Aunt Mary apparently didn’t go that well and my parents soon found an apartment at 2400 Claremont. On the second floor. Every place we lived it seemed to be up some sort of stairs which was terribly hard on my father. It almost seemed intentional when it happened again and again over the years.

Apparently, we didn’t bring very much with us to Virginia. My father’s family donated a bed and sheets. Sadly they came with an overpowering scent of mildew (prevalent in the South). There were lots of spraying with room deodorizer¬† going on for a while. It was a one-bedroom apartment so my room was a closed-in sunporch. The apartment was right across from a beautiful park so the view out my window was wonderful.

I was enrolled in the seventh grade at the Sacred Heart School on Graydon Avenue in Norfolk.

Sacred Heart School, Graydon Ave., Norfolk
Sacred Heart School, Graydon Ave., Norfolk

Our new parish church was Sacred Heart Church. Quite a bit different from Chicago where there was a different parish every 12-13 blocks.

Thank goodness I still had my ugly brown bicycle so the ride to school was an easy trip. The school was run by the Sisters of Charity, the ones with the huge white gull-shaped headpieces then. They appear to be quite modified now.

Aerial view of Yello Fever Park, Norfolk VA
Aerial view of Yellow Fever Park, Norfolk VA

A horrific reminder of Norfolk history is on the corner of Hampton Blvd and Princess Anne Road. On the Google map, it’s called Yellow Fever Park. IN 1917-1918, the influenza epidemic hit Norfolk with a terrible vengeance. People were dying faster than they could be buried individually, so a mass burial plot was set up where that park is located now. My grandmother and six uncles are buried there. Nothing can ever be built on that property so it remains a silent testament to the horror that occurred there.



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