Finding Inspiration

We Trust In Jesus. That’s what Brian said the call letters of his radio station stood for, WTIJ, LOVE Radio, a Bible-thumping, born-again-stumping Christian of a frequency. We didn’t trust in Jesus: two recovering Catholics, Hank who went to parochial schools until he saw a priest sucker-punch a boy in the halls of his high school, and I, who as a child entertained notions of being a nun but quit going to church the second week in college. And, we certainly didn’t trust Brian, but he had a house to rent in Worthington and that’s where we wanted to move in 1981.

It was a little dump of a place, once owned by his grandparents, in the town’s Ringville section, a cluster of modest homes on the curve of Route 112, a good country road. The house, whose clapboards had long lost their coat of white paint, was dirty and filled with the trash left behind after the old man died and the old woman, his second wife, moved. It would take a lot before our kids, we had four then, could live here, but the rent was right, $150, and we could work that off fixing the place.

We were living in a two-bedroom apartment in the Jamaica Plain section of Boston, a nice dead-end street with friendly neighbors, but only blocks away from some tough sections of that city. We had four kids then. Our oldest daughter, Sarah, went to third grade in Roxbury, one of the few white kids, and I had to take two city buses then walk through a bombed-out looking neighborhood to visit the school. A guard unlocked the door to let me in. The day I brought Ezra to register him for kindergarten, a little boy tossed a Hostess cake onto a table and announced to the teacher he had brought his mother-fucking snack. I took one look at my son, a sweet boy who cried easily and loved to draw, and knew he’d have an awfully hard time here.

Then, one winter night I was coming home from the movies, waiting at a trolley stop on Huntington Avenue, when a man tried to force me into his van. I had Nate, just a baby, strapped to my front. The man claimed he worked for the transit system and he knew the next trolley wouldn’t be here for an hour. He drove the van onto the sidewalk. I kept talking my way out of it, so shook I didn’t even think to go inside the corner bar for help or use the payphone to call Hank. I was lucky a stranger, a longhaired guy in a puffy down jacket, arrived to intercede. He told me, “I’m not a violent man, but I’d have killed him if he touched you and the baby.” He said the man had blood on his hands. Didn’t I see?

Hank and I decided our kids would live in a place with clean air and clear skies and where people looked out for each other in a good way: A small town with trees and fields and wildlife. That’s when we found Worthington after hearing about it from a friend of a friend of a friend. The summer weekend that we came to check it out, we camped in field and the colors of the Aurora Borealis danced over us. I took that as a good sign.

We lived in Worthington for 25 years before moving to Taos. I was never disappointed in the town. It was a fine place to raise a family, and as it turned out, a great source for stories, first for the local newspaper, and then for my fiction. I’ll tell you more later.

Yes, this is a true story. My former agent wanted me to do a tell-all about Worthington, but I couldn’t bring myself to finish it. I love the town too much. 

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