This is a story of my life. I've had a good life and I intend to have many more years left of it. I was born Linda Alyson Smith on January 14, 1949, in Decatur, Illinois, at Macon County Hospital to my mother, Ruth, and father, Rollin. I was the first child born to my parents and the first grandchild on both sides of the family so you can imagine how loved I was.
My first house was on Grand Avenue. I don't remember the exact address since I lived there only until I was five. Maybe my mother will remember. I do have a few memories of living there. I remember that my grandpa Smith's office was next door and my grandpa was a doctor. When I was around five, I remember one time when I went to visit my best friend, Karen Longbons, who lived a few doors down the street from me and she had a razor blade. I guess she wanted to see how it worked and decided to experiment on me. I'd never seen a razor blade and didn't know how it worked either. She asked me to extend my arm and she then proceeded to cut my right wrist, luckily on the outside of it. Karen's sister and her boyfriend were near by and they carried me to my grandpa's office. I think all he did was put a butterfly bandage on it. Anyway, it healed and I lived through it. I don't think I saw much of Karen Longbons after that.
I also remember one particular day of kindergarten at Pugh Elementary, which was two blocks from where I lived. On this particular day, we were all sitting in a circle on the floor and a little boy sitting near me threw up! Those are my only experiences that I remember about living on Grand Avenue.
My mom does tell me a story now and then, but I don’t remember it. She tells me that when I was very little and in a crib, one night I claimed there was a cow under my bed. She told me there was no cow, but I wouldn’t go to sleep because THERE WAS A COW UNDER MY BED! So she and Daddy pretended to pull the cow out from under my bed. I went to sleep soon afterwards.
She also tells me that I had a favorite pillow and blanket, of which I named “Odjie” and “Dup-Dup”. She said that Daddy has a cousin named Roger and that I called lots of things “Odjie” after I’d met him.
I have a little sister, Cynthia Joan -- Joan pronounced in two syllables. That's my aunt's name -- my mom's sister. We've always been very close. She was born on August 18, 1950. I enjoyed having a built-in playmate all my life.
At this point I want to tell you about my grandparents. Dr. Raimer and Opal Smith and Troy and Mildred Purdue lived in Decatur. They were the best grandparents a child could have! And my sister and I spent a lot of time with them growing up. I was thankful for being able to have that time with my grandparents. When we went to Grandpa and Grandma Smith's house, Grandma would let us drink tea out of her china cups and she always had cookies and homemade candy like divinity that she let us eat. They lived in a big house on Water Street. Cindy and I used to slide down the stairs on our bottoms, throw things down the laundry shoot then run to the basement and retrieve them, and swing for endless hours on the swing set in the backyard. At Grandpa and Grandma Purdue's house we'd cut out paper dolls on the dining room table from the pattern books Grandma would get at one of the fabric stores. Grandpa would make BIG dill pickles just for me and always had Windmill cookies and licorice or he’d make us root beer floats. Cindy and I would line up all the kitchen chairs in the kitchen and put all of our dolls and stuffed animals on them and dress up in Grandma's clothes and take trips on our train to Disneyland and France, all in one day! Grandpa called us Miss O'Flarity and Miss McGillicutty. They’d let us stay up late and we’d sit in the living room and watch “Lawrence Welk” and “Gunsmoke” on TV. I liked to cover up with Grandma’s pink and red afghan. It had fringe on it until I cut some of it off!
Most of our aunts, uncles, and cousins lived in Decatur, IL, and we saw them often when we lived in Illinois. We played with our cousins that were all within 10 years of age of Cindy and me. There is Charlie, Larry and Gary, sons of Uncle Adrian and Aunt Eileen Ernst. Charlie liked to play "office" and would write and draw on paper on Grandpa's desk. I always wanted to play with Larry. I thought he was the cutest! There is Phil and Phyllis, son and daughter of Uncle Jack and Aunt Louise Wickline. Louise and Eileen are my dad's sisters. On my mom's side, my cousins are David Jr., Scott and Rob, sons of Uncle David and Aunt Joan Jack. David Jr. was awful as a young kid and he would kick and bite. Cindy and I didn't like to play with him. He turned out to be a very polite and wonderful young man, however. Rob had juvenile diabetes and died at the age of 23. He liked old cars and toy trains and had a train set in the basement of their house.
My mom and her sister, Joan, have a first cousin who lived with them from the age of two so we've always considered him an uncle. Uncle Ned and Aunt Anne have a son, Mark and a daughter, Missy. They lived far away so we didn't see much of them when we were younger. Uncle Ned was a forest ranger and I remember one of our vacations and going to Minnesota where he and Aunt Anne lived then. Grandpa and Grandma Purdue went with us and we celebrated my sister's 10th birthday on the way there. I think we went up in one of the ranger towers on that trip also.