As a girl of ten years, I don’t recall much of the drive from Massachusetts to Colorado. My parents made the brave decision to move West. I remember being in 4th grade in Massachusetts and then living with our Aunt and Uncle for about six weeks in Raton, New Mexico while my parents drove to California where my father’s brother lived. This was a necessary move because of the health of one of my sisters. The move proved to be fortuitous.
All five of us piled into the car for the long journey. Another sister was on the way and was born in Colorado. This was a bold, brave decision and move for my parents. My mother’s sister and family lived in Raton where we stayed and attended school for about six weeks. The next thing we learned was that we were moving to Pueblo, Colorado where our father accepted a job as an industrial engineer at the CF & I steel mill. We rented a couple houses before we finally moved to Belmont where our father built the house.
All our furniture and belongings were left in storage in Massachusetts until the moving van brought it our final destination. It’s a vivid memory that we invented games and played “store” with empty cardboard boxes. Imagination is a powerful device, and we never lacked imagination in inventing toys with these empty boxes. My parents purchased a sofa bed which we girls apparently slept in until our own beds arrived. I took everything in stride except that Pueblo was much less verdant with only brown prairie and pinion pines to gaze at. The summers were hot and dry.
Before moving to Belmont, we rented houses and began school at the nearby elementary school. I was in 5th and my sisters were in 3rd and 1st grades. My introduction to the 5th grade classroom was met with “oh, no! Not another Mary Ann.” I looked around the room to discover there were already two other students with the same name. I think my sister in 3rd grade fared better except for the fact that she was writing cursive which we began in 1st grade in Massachusetts. She had to listen to her classmates tell her she “wasn’t supposed to be writing cursive yet.” The rest of the class learned in the spring of that year. All the teachers were impressed with our reading abilities and said schools in Massachusetts must be ahead of those in Colorado.
We learned to adjust to our new schools quickly and got involved with the local 4H clubs and activities. I began my first job at 11 which was babysitting and later cared for lawns, gardens and took in mail for neighbors when they went on vacation. By age 13, I added another job which was church organist. That kept me busy for the next five years and playing daily as well as three times on Sundays, and all the funerals and weddings. We sang in the church choir. We continued piano lessons in Pueblo.
A phone call this morning from a friend mentioned traveling through Western Massachusetts yesterday and past towns where we lived. He said it was a bold and brave move for my parents to have made i.e. without a job in Colorado, to move the family to a better climate. I doubt I could have made that same decision and move across the country with young children in tow. They had great faith and trust to make the move.