I transcribed this in the days leading up to my 2012 birthday. I made a few changes and corrections. Largely though, it’s what I wrote in 1966, when I was 12 or so. I think it was for a class project. These family photos were glued into the book! Now I know better than to do that, live and learn. To me, this is a surprising artifact. It stirs up old memories.
I was born October 20, 1953, in Detroit, Michigan. I got the name Maurice Joseph Greenia, Jr. I was baptized ten days after my birth at Holy Rosary Church. My Godfather was my Uncle Ralph. My Godmother was my Aunt Pat. I am the oldest child in our family.
I was the first, so they tested everything out on me: how to feed babies, give children haircuts, how much T.V. should you let kids watch etc. They’re still doing it.
When I was a little over one, the second oldest, Thomas was born on November 23. We moved again and I don’t remember much of this year.
After my second birthday and Tom’s first, Dennis was born on March 29, 1956. We moved into another house on the west side of Detroit. We didn’t do much that year, but I remember all kinds of happy things.
The next year was different. I made all kinds of friends and had some adventures. There was my Cousin Joe. He was my best friend, but he lived on the East Side and we rarely got to see him. In my neighborhood, there was Sandy, (the little girl who lived next door), the Heinzes (who let us go to their birthdays) and the Chapmans (sometime friends, sometimes enemies). One had diabetes, so they couldn’t go out on Halloween. One guy, Leslie, was an albino, with strange pink eyes. He did nutty things, which we did with him.
I was also like Christopher Robin in Winnie the Pooh, with my own stuffed animal kingdom, led by my teddy bear.
After the age of three, I can really start to remember what was happening. We would always have fun. we moved to the house next door. Dennis was walking now and had a good sense of humor, even at age one. Christmas included a decorated tree and fancy cookies. We’d have fun playing in the snow, watching cartoons on TV and playing with the neighbors.
When I was four, my sister Patricia was born. My dad was always singing songs to us. He made up stories for us too. A favorite was Ping Pong Pete, the Pineapple Pirate!
Dennis and I played “Maury and Denny the Cowboys” in our backyard. I wasn’t into dangerous stunts, such as jumping off of the garage roof. I’d do more cautious stunts, such as jumping off of the porch stairs. This was partly due to my having broken my leg when I was two. I’d carelessly jumped from a chair and fell the wrong way. Was I into the cookie jar?
Once, dad gave us some jungle hats which were painted blue. We played games, pretending to be jungle explorers, knights in armor or time travelers.
There was a yellow table. We had chairs and put them on top of it and sat in them. We’d pretend that it was a rocket ship. We did this week after week. Eventually, the table started wiggling, but we still kept playing on it. Once, another kid climbed off of it, to go on an expedition on an imaginary moon. I raised my finger gun to shoot an imaginary moon creature and the table gave out. Wham! I flew up into the air and tumbled onto the floor. Luckily, I wasn’t badly hurt.
Sandy was still a good friend. I think that her last name was Stopanovich, or something similar. Once, her father gave us free samples of fish that he had caught.
Then, there was a sort of feud with the neighborhood tough guys. All of the Greenias weren’t involved. It was just Tom, Den and I. The main enemy was the notorious bully, bad Michael. The four Chapmans and the Heinzes were double agents. I don’t know which side they were really on, neither perhaps. All it really was, was a rebellion. Thus the bully had to bully on victims that he didn’t bully before. For awhile, we eluded him. This was mainly because we were too good at hide and seek.
He tried to whip us with a slashed inner tube. He was only a few years older than us, but twice as big. He was whipping on us like mad. They captured Tom and Den. I traded myself in for them, because two is better than one. They tied me upside down to a tree. They were busy chasing Den, so Tom foiled the guard and had just enough time to get me loose. While getting whipped myself, I got the whip away from him. The Chapmans had since quit. Without his gang or his weapons, he had to flee. He could no longer chase.
At five, I went to school: kindergarten. I drew and painted pictures. I played, drank milk and ate cookies with my new friends. Around this time, we had another addition to our family, my brother Matthew. By the time that I graduated from kindergarten, I knew my alphabet and could read some easy books.
Then, I entered first grade at Saint Gregory’s School. Like Saint Martin’s (which I went to later) it was run by IHM Nuns. It was a long, hazardous way to get there. There was a busy street, a bridge over the expressway. Also, it seemed to be a bit of a “rough neighborhood.” Once, someone stole my breakfast and lunch. Most students ate lunch in school, unless they lived nearby.
Tom couldn’t go to kindergarten, due to not having a regular ride there. My ride had been with Sandy, but she moved. I got good marks and was promoted to second grade. My seventh year, 1960, brought another brother, Tim. In second grade, I was reading Tom Sawyer and understanding only 92 percent. Tom started first grade. Soon, we were both promoted to the next grade in line.
To be continued…