— That makes me think, um, when we moved, I was, we were living in Michigan. At the time we always considered it “the North”. But actually it’s the north of the Midwestern states.
But then moving to a southern state, I definitely had a northern accent. And some of the words I used were different, too, like “pop” for, for… — Soda.
— …soda. So I was, I was ridiculed by kids for my accent, for sure.
— Yeah, you know another difficult thing for me was that the area that we moved to was affluent. And, I mean, we certainly were not rich. So, y’know, uh, and you could see it from the clothes we wore to the cars that my parents drove. I mean… — [laugh] — …y’know, we had these old clunkers and everyone else in the neighborhood has these brand new cars, y’know. So it was pretty obvious, like, we would turn a lot of heads driving past people.
— Oh my god, that sounds so much like, like my situation. We moved from a very blue collar area – my, my parents being teachers, were very blue collar as well – to a very affluent area, a lot of doctors and lawyers. And I can remember moving. We [laugh]… My mom drove this yellow and black Gremlin [laugh]… — [laugh] Yeah, they don’t make those anymore… — [laugh] No. I….
— …and there’s a reason for it.
— [laugh] I would get dropped off at school from… come in the Gremlin. I would be so embarrassed. And then, y’know, we didn’t have the designer clothes that all the kids we went to school with wore. So, we w-, it just was very stressful trying to keep up with the Joneses and buying these designer clothes. It was, uh, very stressful for me and my brothers. But also we put a lot of pressure on our parents to buy these. And they just couldn’t afford it.
— Yeah, that sounds familiar.
— I c-, I gotta tell you one story I can remember. My mom actually, she can’t sew. And she had sewn me this pair of knickers… Knickers at one point were back in style. Do you know what those are?
— Yes, yeah.
— And they were horrible looking. And I wore ‘em to school and all the kids were makin’ fun of me on the playground.
- Oh, my gosh.
— I was just standing in the corner by myself about to cry. And then I went home and I was like “Mom, I want real knickers. I want you to buy ‘em in the store for me.”
— Yeah, kids can be cruel.
— [laugh] — I know kids can be cruel because, I’ll tell you what, I had to, uh… I had a really bad experience right before I started school the summer that I moved to Pennsylvania. I’m playin’ football with the kids in the neighborhood… — Uh-huh.
— …and, of course, what happens is, I get tackled and someone falls on my leg and it breaks my ankle.
— [laugh] Oh no.
— I couldn’t believe it. So I’m sittin’ there, tryin’ to, y’know, act as, uh, if, like, it doesn’t hurt that much. But, I mean, it hurt a lot. And then, y’know, the kids thought I was cryin’ wolf.
They didn’t really think I was hurt at all.
— [laugh] — So I have to walk away and, uh, walk home on a broken ankle. And, I mean, I just felt like screamin’ at the top of my lungs. I was in so much pain. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t do it because I didn’t want the kids to think I was, like, some wimp.
— [laugh] Oh, oh… — So, it gets worse [laugh]. I have to go to school with a cast on my leg to start the school year.
— [laugh] — So I’m the new kid with the thick accent, the clothes that look out of place, y’know.
Nobody knows me and I have a cast on my foot. And my, y’know, I can’t take a shower, y’know. I can’t shower the leg so my toes are a little dirty… — [laugh] — …I mean I wanted nothin’ more than to move back to New York that very moment, the first day of school.
— God, I bet you stuck out like a sore thumb.
— Oh ma-, you can’t imagine. It was the worst. I, I mean I think for the first two years I lived in Pennsylvania I just wanted to hop on a bus and get back to New York as fast as I could.
— Yep, that was me… wanting to move back to Michigan, too.
- Wh- [laugh]… — [laugh] — But, uh, y’know, I, at least you moved at an earlier age. It’s a lot easier because, y’know, when you’re younger it’s just, uh… Y’know, all the kids are getting familiar with each other.
But when you move, and you’re a little older, the kids already know each other. Y’know, they’ve already combined the elementary schools into the middle school, uh, for when I had moved there.
— Yeah, but you know, ironically enough, um, my older brother, I think, had an easier time adapting. And he was starting seventh grade. I was starting third grade. My younger brother was starting second grade. And my younger brother and I had a really rough time.
— Yeah, well, y’know, as much as I hated it when I first, uh, had moved to Pennsylvania, now in looking back, I think it was really a blessing in disguise. I mean there were so many other opportunities that came available to us from living in Pennsylvania and going to a school district that, y’know, was, uh, had a lot more money. And the education that we got was better. And it just provided me, uh, with a much better starting point for, uh, college.