Going Back Down Memory Lane

May 30, 2011
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My mom, born Mary Louise, grew up in a nice Marlboro, New Jersey neighborhood. My mom is the second youngest in her family. Her family consisted of an older sister named Kathy, an older brother named Mark and a younger sister named Maureen. My mom attended Marlboro Elementary, Central Middle School, and Marlboro High School and got an athletic scholarship to play Division I basketball at Georgia Tech. I chose to interview my mom because I wanted to learn more about her past and childhood.

Can you please introduce yourself and give a brief background?
My name is Mary Lou. I am forty-nine years old and I was born in Evanston, IL. I am the third of four children. I have an older sister named Kathy, an older brother named Mark, and a younger sister, Maureen so I am the middle child of my family.

Did being the middle child affect your childhood in anyway?
I think it’s hard being the middle child because everybody thinks you’re ok because usually the first child, Kathy, was doing new things and Mark was the only boy so he was the prince who could do no wrong. Then I was next and Maureen was the baby of the family so I was just there. I think I had to struggle for attention but I was okay with that.

What time period did you grow up in?
I was born in 1962 and I graduated school in 1980 so I grew up in the 70s.

What specific events happened during the 70s that you remember?
I specifically remember the landing on the moon. I also remember President Nixon resigning. I just remember it being in the summer time and everybody being stunned that something was going on.

Where did you grow up?
I was born in Chicago but then moved to Cleveland, and then moved to Long Island. I essentially grew up in New Jersey from age six to eighteen. I lived on 41 River Drive in Marlboro, New Jersey.

Can you describe the house you lived in?
We lived in a brand new house, in a brand new neighborhood. We were actually the first family to move in and so there was a lot of construction around and we actually had a lot of fun, playing in the houses that weren’t finished yet, just walking through them. When we first moved and this is why I think I was good at sports. I was really close with my brother, who is eighteen months older than me, and when we first moved in the neighborhood, everybody that moved in were boys. There were no girls to play with so I would always play with my brother and the other boys and play sports. That is another reason why I loved sports so much.

How was growing up in New Jersey?
It was fun. We lived in a good community which was very urban with a bunch of houses. I road my bike everywhere, it was time where you weren’t really afraid and worry about many things. You would stay out all day come back in the night time and eat dinner.

Do you have any specific memories of New Jersey?
I remember always playing sports almost every season and then I would ride my bikes to the Shore. My really good friend, Corinne Suarez and I, we were best friends since we were ten, would ride our bikes to the Jersey Shore. It was like twenty miles and we never told our parents we would just do it and now that I look back as a parent now, I see it was very dangerous. So we would go out in the morning ride our bikes for twenty miles, stay at the beach for an hour and then ride back. We would ride on the streets and there was always heavy traffic. It was scary.

How did you meet your friend, Corinne? And can you describe her for me?
We met through Mark. Mark and Ricky were friends and Rick had a younger sister named Mark. She was smaller than me and very cute and pretty. She was very much a tomboy like me, loved sports so we would go in the backyard all day long and just shoot baskets. That’s how we also became friends, through basketball. She played soccer when she was younger and she actually taught me how to play soccer in her backyard and I made the soccer team junior year.

Did the constant moving around affect you in anyway?
Not when I was a kid but after I graduated from college I moved to Nebraska, Kansas, then Chicago and I found that early on that I didn’t like moving. I liked staying in one place and that is why I prefer a job in which we don’t have to constantly move.

Can you describe the grade school you attended?
It was normal school called Marlboro Elementary. I remember in elementary school we moved to a new school because we lived in a new neighborhood so the school was new too. I thought that was kind of cool because we were the first kids in the new school. I remembered when I started playing sports in that elementary school. I started playing basketball in fifth grade. It was when my love for sports developed.

Do you have any stories from school?
I remember in third grade I was the hop-scotch queen. I could beat everybody in hop-scotch. I think it’s because I was so tall. Every day at recess we’d draw the hop-scotch and we’d play and I had this special rock that was really flat so when you threw it down the squares it would land perfectly on square three. I was the best.

What was your childhood like?
It was a lot of fun. I played a different sport for each season so I went from one sport to the next. I was very busy and it was a time when girls’ sports were just beginning to come into action. I look now and I see the girls playing and I am a little envious because I was seen as a little different because I played sports. Where now it is very much accepted. I remember we [me and my brother, Mark,] would spend a lot of time out in the woods in our neighborhood because we lived near farm land and we would be building forts up in trees. It was just a different world where you could stay out. We would go out in the morning and not come back until dinner. Now a days you couldn’t do that because you would worry about what was going on with your kids, but back then you could go out and play all day and then come back in when the street light came on. I remember another time in the woods when me and my brother and I started a campfire and it got out of control and we thought we were going to burn down the whole woods. There was a creek right there so we were able to put it out but it was kind of scary.

What kind of relationship did you have with your brother, Mark?
I just hung around him a lot because he was the only one around who was around my age.

Do you have any crazy stories from your childhood?
I remember one time, it was in the winter, when Mark and Ricky went ice skating and Ricky fell through the ice. Mark pulled him out and we ran home and my mom was out so we threw all the clothes in the drier to get the clothes dry so none of the parents found out that he fell through the ice.

Did playing sports play a role in your childhood?
Well playing sports was one of my favorite pastimes. I remember playing basketball, softball, soccer, swimming and track. Basketball and swimming were my favorite sports. It was something I achieved at and really enjoyed so it just kind of defined who I was.

You told me you played varsity basketball as a freshmen, how did this play a role in your childhood?
Well I was exposed to a lot of different things at a younger age. People were drinking because back then the drinking age was eighteen and so I was playing with people who were 18 so they were able to drink, but now it’s a different situation so I was a little worried that your older brother would get caught up in a group that was ahead of him.

What did you do during the summer in your childhood?
I swam on a swim team. That is where I spent all my time during the summer. The neighborhood we lived had a swim club that was associated with it. I spent every minute of the day up there, at the pool swimming. I would start in the morning with practice then come home, eat breakfast, and go back up and spend all day there. Then come home for dinner every day of the summer. So I was really tan [laughs]. I remember one year when I was on the swim team, my swim coach, who was in his early twenties, had a motorcycle and he said go ahead ride on it. I went on the back and I burned my leg on the exhaust pipe and I never got on a motorcycle again.

What did you want to be growing up?
I really didn’t know what I wanted to be. I knew I always wanted to be a mom. I always wanted to have kids. I thought three was a pretty good number.

What event shaped you into the person you are today?
My dad lost his job when I was in high school and it was my brother and I were both tentative about where we were going to school and I felt like I had to get an athletic scholarship so that really defined me because I felt the pressure as a young kid to do that and I think that’s why I work now because I don’t want my children to feel that same pressure.

How strict were parents on you?
Very strict. I always had to tell them where we were, who we were with. I could not stay out past ten and my mom would always wait up for us and we would have to talk to her when we got home. It was always key, we never wanted to disappoint our parents, it was key.

How would you describe yourself as a child?
I was really quiet and focused. I was a really good student and a good athlete. I had one step in the jock and one foot in the nerds because I was in the accelerated classes but I played all sports. I had friends in both groups.

Did your gender play a role in your childhood?
I think being an athlete as girl kind of did because it was not as prevalent as it is now. You were labeled as a jock if you played sport so it was a little defining but it wasn’t a negative. I think it was positive. I think I was able to take the benefit of that, playing basketball in college I was just in the right place at the right time.

My mom is presently living in Chicago. She works as a manager for Office Depot and achieved her dream of being a mother and having three kids. She has a son who is eighteen-years-old and is going to play basketball in college. She also has two twin boys who are currently fifteen-years-old.

Basketball was one of my mom's favorite hobbies growing up.

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