I remember being a little girl on summer family car trips during the mid 1950s.

My folks rode in the front seat with one child between them. The other five of us sat in the backseat–as best we could. Everybody wanted the window seats! We sang, counted cars and dogs, and bickered.

Dad drove us into upstate New York, New Hampshire and Vermont. This was before most states had super-highways and he followed back roads through the mountains.

I was a very sensitive child and dismayed by lonely shacks I saw along the roads–all with their doors open. (If they even had doors!) Every single house was small, shabby and looked as if it was about to fall down. But, it usually had a porch.

Mama and barefoot children, who looked uncared-for, sat on the porch or its steps.

Also on that front deck were lots of small things like stools, jugs and big items like a sofa or a refrigerator. At the time, I thought my family was poor, but seeing this kind of open-door living made me think again.

I did not feel revulsion or even pity, but a sheer sense of unfairness at the family’s apparent hopeless plight.

Nancyann (Sept. ‘14) adds, “I also felt shocked and sad. Maybe that led me to become a nurse, so I could help others. “

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