Sunday, July 1, 2007

July 3, 1963 Silver Valley Girl is Born: Sibling Assignment #26

This week's sibling assignment is to remember how each of us remembers July 3, 1963 and the days preceding and following, as Silver Valley Girl's 44th birthday approaches. InlandEmpireGirl's recollections are here and Silver Valley Girl writes what she has heard here.

On July 20, 1963 a solar eclipse occurred. It slightly darkened the day. Dad was helping coach Kellogg's American Legion baseball team. They had a game at Wallace that day.

Silver Valley Girl quit breathing at home. Mom had gone in her room to routinely check on her. She was black. Mom scooped her up and ran her next door to Lois Rinaldi, an RN. Lois syringed the fluid out of Silver Valley Girl's lungs and she breathed again.

Silver Valley Girl was back in the hospital. Doctor Staley told Mom that little Silver Valley Girl's tiny bottom hardly had room for any more shots.

I angered Mom before she went to the hospital to visit Carol. She told me to go to her room and not leave. I stood in front of Mom and Dad's mirror and watch myself imitate major league baseball pitcher's deliveries. I spent a lot of time imitating the three quarters, almost side arm delivery of Don Drysdale. Mom spent hours at the hospital.

She returned home. I was still in her room. I hadn't left. Mom had all but forgotten her order that I stay there. My obedience touched her. She hadn't meant for me to take her quite so literally.

Doctor Staley called Mom. "If you want to see your baby alive, you'd better come down to the hospital. She might not make it."

A person is never to look directly at the eclipse of the sun. When the eclipse occurred on July 20, 1963, the newspapers and television repeated this warning. Instructions accompanied these warnings detailing how to build a viewer with box and a mirror. Creative entrepreneurs sold dark glasses for viewing.

Silver Valley Girl's first month of life sits in my memory like a solar eclipse. I can't look directly at that month. I remember things.

I remember handing out bubble gum cigars to my Little League teammates.

I remember going with InlandEmpireGirl to look at our new sister through the hospital nursery window.

I remember when we named her Carol Lynn, thinking we were naming her after JFK's daughter.

I remember Silver Valley Girl coming home and contracting thrush. The medicine was purple.

I remember the things I wrote at the top of this post.

But, like July 20, 1963, when a kind of dusk fell over Kellogg for about five minutes, my memories are dusky. I don't remember the chronology. I can't verify if what I remember happened.

She was very ill. I know that. I know we nearly lost her. Was it all the same day when Dad coached against Wallace and Mom was alone and Silver Valley Girl went black and was I in Wallace with my dad and did Lois saver her life? Did Dr. Staley warn Mom that he didn't know if she'd live? How long did I imitate Don Drysdale and Juan Marichal? Which of these things happened on the same day? Which on different days?

I know there was an eclipse. I know the sun was darkened. I remember our family's life being darkened, too, by Silver Valley Girl's difficult first month, by her illness, by her having to be taken for care in Spokane.

But I can't look directly at that month. My memories are dusky.

Early in August of 1963, though, light returned to our family. Silver Valley Girl survived. She didn't know she'd been ill. Lord, did she ever not know.

She was animated, jolly, full of vitality, fun, playful, mischievous: a bundle of laughter, energy, and beauty.

We were all so happy she lived. She brought sunshine into our lives. We thanked God every day she was alive.

We were grateful that her young life was not eclipsed. None of us could look directly at how close we came to losing her.


InlandEmpireGirl said...

It is hard for me to differentiate what I was told and what I really remember. I do think I was there when she stopped breathing. I don't remember you staying in Mom and Dad's room. I liked the use of the eclipse, which I don't remember at all. Funny how our minds work.

Silver Valley Girl said...

Thanks for writing down what you remember. It is nice to know how each of you remembered that time, since I, of course, have no memories of it all. And I loved the way you used the eclipse. I am so glad the darkness was temporary and that I did survive to "shine" on the other side.

myrtle beached whale said...

It is amazing how our memories work. Like Inland Empire Girl, I did not remember an eclipse in 1963 so I researched it. I found this:

The fifth central eclipse occurred on 1963 Jul 20 and is well known to many eclipse observers. Its path crossed Alaska, central and eastern Canada and Maine. The event drew a great deal of media attention and a beautiful article about the eclipse appeared months later in the pages of National Geographic [November 1963]. In fact, one of the authors (Espenak) has fond memories of watching the partial phases of this eclipse as a boy from his grandmother's home in Long Island.

So there was an eclipse that year, but later in the month.

Jennifer said...

That was a beautiful and touching post in honour of your sister. I enjoyed reading the triumph and tradegy that surrounded your childhood (at that time) like an eclipse. The post has great parallels and emotions. Thank you for sharing it!