At summer's end we moved to Ontario where Ted taught at Jarvis Christian School. A motel cabin was home for seven last weeks of pregnancy. I nurtured nesting instincts; braided a rug, painted a rocking chair. Craving sweet corn, took ears from an unfenced field; boiled, buttered, salted but tasteless. Oh, field corn! Finally our top floor Simcoe apartment was ready. After the long moving day we slept until labor pains started at 3 a.m. October 20. Twelve hours later our son was born; took him home on my 22nd birthday. I was reborn with Christopher (Dopher, Baby Duff), nursing, napping, singing, talking, hanging clean diapers to dry in balcony sun, discovering Lake Erie Sand Hills Park. It was a year of kairos time and space for forming a new satellite family, a nucleus sprung from roving Ribbens-Roorda transplants.
Impulsive, flighty, hardly an adult though intrigued with independence I lived with five girlfriends in an old house near the one where Ted lived with guy friends. Babysat young cousins sometimes; felt at home like in Harlem at Madison Square where Ted taught Sunday School. Admired his cheerful, hard-working immigrant mother and was awed by his cab-driving job. We applied for Peace Corps, were accepted, assigned! But had to give it up: I was pregnant. Wow, must have gone all the way--when?! Hormones had run rampant; I was blind, confusing passion with compassion, in love with love. And Love saw me through student teaching High School Art; graduation at Knollcrest, marriage in Franklin Chapel where Mom and Dad were married and where we'd met; camping trip to Canada, Maine, Cape Cod; summer in Ruth's Manhattan apartment while she was in Europe, Ted working at Altman's. I may have had twenty loves by then but none as real as baby Christopher stirring in my body's vibrant chrysalis.
Gertrude DeWitt taught third, fourth and fifth grades in Sheboygan where Theunis Ribbens' sisters befriended her. Marjorie Ribbens earned room and board near Franklin campus doing childcare and housework with the Brunson family. Katie Bogard, bookkeeper, traveled to cities with sister buying supplies and selling their handmade hats. Marjorie Anne studied Fromm, Kozol and Montessori; wrote term paper "Education for Loving". Clarice VDK roomed with girlfriends; finished Calvin; got engaged to Bill Ribbens; started nurse's training. Marjorie wrote to Aunt Ruth, couldn't "understand why no one in the family except Calvin likes Ted". Ruth VandeKieft, president of nonresident students, graduated from Meredith College in Raleigh, North Carolina. Marj roomed with Mary Schans; worked at Altman's; took classes at New York School of Visual Arts. Jean Roorda lived with Mom, nursed baby Judah; started researching vaccines; worked as church secretary.
Lived with Gram again, babysat in her neighborhood; shuttled between campuses, found footpath to Knollcrest. volunteered with KIDS (Kindling Intellectual Desire in Schools). Aced term paper "Hamlet's Noble Mind in Action". Ted Roorda sat near me in Chapel (seats assigned by last name); his friend George's girlfriend Paula said Ted wanted to meet me so we talked; our first date was St. Paul Oratorio April 1. What passions lit up or darkened my Festival artworks titled Tree Reflection, Twilight, Easter, Swamp, Youth? For six weeks in Harlem, work and love harmonized: "The kids are so friendly, altho' a little loud. I see they (my 11 & 12 y.o. girls) want loving and I love them." Bonds with Calvin guys on our team formed easily but Ronald from down the block was hardest to forget.
Freshman year flew by. I lived with Gram, savored quiet meals at her flower-graced table; drove her to church and stores, took bus to campus. Found new friends in Honors English, art class and Cousin Ken's local G.R. non-dorm crowd.
Summer Workshop in Missions (SWIM) was my communal lifeline. Gloria, Betty, Carol and I were assigned to a new church on Beelzebub Rd! in South Windsor, Connecticut. Family letters detailed road trip mishaps, menus (they loved our strawberries) and every day new people, impressions, conversations at church and VBS, in homes and outdoors. Most indelible were the scriptures I chose (Isaiah 40, Matthew 5 and 2 Corinthians 4) when my turn came for team devotions and our kneeling prayer times in the sanctuary. Most exciting was the NYC trip: World's Fair, overnight at Aunt Ruth's Queens apartment, Harlem church meeting with all area SWIM teams.
Beginnings were becoming my strong suit. At Lakewood Public I reveled in art class; got the title role in our senior play. At home on Jordan Lake Road and around town helped Dad and Mom with the church plant, leading Sunday School and weekday Bible classes. But doubts and qualms rose. Had no dates, didn't dance, babysat a lot, saved money, tithed. Kennedy was shot. We watched TV in government class. I passed catechism orals, made profession of faith, wrote statement of faith for Calvin application. Graduation was anticlimactic. Nothing fazed me like the book Black Like Me. How awesome to work with 8-12 year old girls at the Y in Grand Rapids that summmer!
At Thanksgiving we moved to Mation house #3. My attention kept skidding, swerving from Northern Michigan Christian High in McBain to church youth group friends from Marion Public. One winter night, driving the VW from McBain I fishtailed, flipped landed wheels down in ditch; walked to nearest house, called Dad; drove again soon--grateful, careful, responsible. Junior parent or babysitter was my major role, rover position in basketball my favorite. Got fifty cents an hour for childcare; boosted savings picking cherries, beans, potatoes. Soph class prez, junior student council rep, lit staff, I kept busy all the time, filling spare minutes with cathartic sketches and poems. That summer we moved way south to Lake Odessa.
Gertrude from Rudyard joined sisters at preparatory school later known as Calvin College. Richard gave his own junior high valedictory rejecting white principal's prepared speech. Gordon was welcomed as preacher by the black congregation in backwoods Virginia. Anne died peacefully, feeling nothing bad was happening to her. Lester lived in a small room outside the white store owner's family home. I was moody sometimes, retreating into reading, but not during Moody Week at Winona Lake. Duff's best friend was actor/director Newt Pippin, Rhonda's godbrother. Jordan died in car with brothers, shot by a police officer.
1-1-61 Writing practice begun. First line same every day except numbers: "Slept from 2:30 to 9:00 (6 1/2)" that first day. Back late New Years Eve from Grand Rapids days with grandparents, dozen cousin daze? "Slept for two hours" after church, dinner & dishes. (I'd add the nap to the weekly tally for an 8 1/2 hour average) Until the new "Back to God Chapel" was finished at Easter A.M. church was in an old building on a country road. For dinner we had rabbit (!!Who shot and cleaned it?) P.M. church was in our living/ dining room. Each Sunday I noted the scriptures and sermon titles: that day Hebrews 11:13, Christian Pilgrims and Psalm 90:1&2, God With Us in 1961. Afterward "Dad & Mom went to Bolt's in Cadillac" I "Babysat," going to sleep in their bed. Girl of the Limberlost, Diary of Anne Frank, Return of the Native Most nights I read in bed, averaging a book a week, more when off school--The Silver Chalice, The Yearling, The Nun.. With friends, school was a high, even the long bus ride except when we were late or I talked & had to write lines in study hall or we didn't get a ping pong table at noon. Friends on farms closer to school hosted me overnight sometimes after ball games or other evening events. Mom gave a book review at the Silver Tea (wonder what book) and I recited an original poem at the Mother-Daughter Banquet. Other firsts were roller-skating parties, vegetable gardening and driving (!) with Dad but on regular roads. Highlight of the year was Youth Conference Camp weekend (though may have been more fun if preacher-teacher Dad wasn't there?)
We lived up north in Marion Michigan. Dad drove us five miles to the school bus stop for the farmland route to Lucas-McBain Christian down in a wide valley next to the big hill where I skied, boot straps secured with inner tube strips. My "Rescue the Perishing" poster with colorful faces painted on blue background won the mission contest. Eighth grade ended with a great Mackinac Island day trip. Back home our family was complete, grateful for baby Cal. We moved from the brick rambler near the fairgrounds to the spacious white house with cupola next to a black-topped basement house. From both homes I found stream banks to explore.