We lived across the street from St Rita's Church and upstairs of Sophie's Hat Shop. Sophie was a very proper Lady who made custom tailored hats for discriminating, dapper gentlemen, like my Dad. She also owned the building and was thrilled to rent to us as local business people.
Bonnie Thomas and her Mom lived next door on the same level as we did. Downstairs was Sophie's shop and living space.
Everything felt very rich and fancy.
Thick carpet on the heavy polished wooden stairs. Fancy wallpaper. Thick pretty carpet through the living room. Sweeping views from the large windows.
Mom's official business title was bookkeeper for the gas station, she needed an assistant to do that so she hired Bonnie Thomas. Bonnie got hired because she was a pretty & petite size 6 & Mom loved to buy size six clothes. Mom wore a size 22.
Mom & Bonnie shopped all day and Dad retaliated by buying more hats and guns.
I was seven and there were five kids. The oldest was Rick at 8, then me, then Fred at 6, then Dan at 2.5 months and Steve at 15 months. There was a toy store down the street. The three oldest kids had an allowance of five dollars per week to spend at the Toy Store.
Christmas that year my parents spent $5000. My recall is that the unwrapping presents felt like what it must have felt like to be in Oprah's audience when every one got a car! Over the top. So I just checked with google, and $5000 in 1961 equates to $39,000 in today's money.
Christmas 1962 was very different. My parents were fugitives, running from the FBI. We spent Christmas Day in the attic of a garage hiding out like Anne Frank's family, dinner was popcorn and a beat up Monopoly game that only had a few tokens and a half-dozen deeds and very little play money was my gift from Santa. Christmas 1963 we spent in Johnson City Tennessee where my Uncle Al used his dog and a sled to make sleigh and reindeer tracks for us, and surprised us with oranges and peppermint candies.
Did someone say something about "things getting back to normal?" Small wonder I've always thought of normal as a setting on a dryer, never as a state of being. Small wonder where the angel sitting on my shoulder whispering, "This will change fast" came from. Realizing that everything changes and changes quickly whether we want it to change or not has been a big factor in me preserving whatever sanity I have.