That Was Then

 
Stelli

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Stelli's favorite thing in the world used to be her birthdays (November 1st) because it gave her an excuse to run around with her friends, laughing and playing, and eating whatever she wanted while her mom put on a fabulous party. She loved opening her gifts while others oohed and aahed at her latest acquisitions. The highlight of her parties was the ceremonial beating of the piñata filled with yummy sweets and treats for all! Her most memorable birthday was in New Orleans at the Audubon Park with the beautiful oak and weeping willow trees with Spanish moss draping off the branches. The trees made her feel alive and free to run and yell and simply be herself.

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As far back as Stelli can remember, she was an expert at directing the other children in the neighborhood. They listened intently to her as she gave each person directions on what to do when. The children were good followers and she was a good leader who rewarded those who obeyed with extra attention and sometimes candy. Stelli later went on to become an avid collector of Strawberry Shortcake dolls and Scratch-n-Sniff stickers. Her most prized stickers included the Skunk, Pop Corn, and Coca Cola. Stelli also specialized in pranks. Her favorite was knocking on the doors of her neighbors and leaving a stinky napkin (a special potion that smelled like rotten eggs she would buy from the pranks store) on the ground with the words "Smell Me" on it. Her mother never learned of her prankster talents, until much later, of course.

 

Jeff

/thatwasthen/Jeffrey101.jpgJeff’s father was the owner and manager of a trailer park in Titusville, Florida, next to US Highway 1, which is where he lived from birth until he turned 18. Most of the people that lived in the park were retired from “up north.” He says, “It was like having dozens of grandparents. I roamed the park, made tree forts, played on the ball fields at Sand Point, went fishing, and probably annoyed everyone that lived there at one time or another.”
 
/thatwasthen/Jeffrey201.jpg Jeff loved uniforms. His brother bought him a khaki uniform from the National Guard store. One birthday he received a complete football uniform with cleats and pads. The first day he wore his football uniform he fell down and the shoulder pads prevented him from rolling over to get up. He was stuck and cried while everyone laughed. When he went to bed he would refuse to take off whatever uniform he had on. His favorite adventure was to go down to the Indian River and throw rocks in the water. His mother’s rule was that he had to get home before the streetlights came on.

By the time Jeff was 12, he and his friends would sneak out at night and walk up and down the streets of downtown Titusville. He says, “You dreaded getting caught by the police because they wouldn’t take you to the police station: chances were pretty high they knew your parents and would take you home.”

Jessica

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