Clean Windows

Within the next couple of years Jalene’s family status changed again. Their family of 7 was reversed to 5. Uncle Don was now serving in the US military, while Grandma Rose was residing in a state mental institution.

Perhaps the family could regain some normalcy, but it wasn’t meant to be. As cited in a previous post, Jalene’s family would never be deemed typical. Jalene’s love of roller skating and gathering treasures along the way, was now merely a dim memory.

Suddenly, her parents had begun moving from house to house while her father jumped from job to job. Jalene had been mandated to accept full time responsibilities of an adult. When not in school, she was the caregiver for her brother and sister, as well as the housekeeper and chief ironer. In the 1950’s, permanent press garments were not readily available. Therefore, Jalene was ordered to iron not only the family’s typical attire, but also dish towels, sheets and pillow cases.

With each passing year, the family’s level of poverty increased. There were no birthday or holiday celebrations. However, once a year in their small OH town, the local fire department held a fall festival on Halloween night. The town’s children of all ages and income were welcomed for homemade chili, treats and a night of games and prizes.

Jalene’s excitement had continued to increase from the moment she first heard about it until the day of the event. There was so little happiness in the Maher family but tonight would be a wonderful memory for Jalene. Little did she realize her excitement would turn to sadness within a matter of hours.

When Glenn arrived home, he noticed there was soap on some of the windows. Quizzing Jalene, she readily admitted she was the guilty one, for children in her 3rd grade class at school said they were going to soap windows as a traditional Halloween event.

Jalene believed if the other children were going to do this, she wanted to partake.  She wouldn’t dream of leaving home to soap windows for she would encounter the harsh wrath and punishment from Glenn for not remaining at home. Thus, she soaped only a few of her windows. When her classmates queried her the next day, she could exclaim that she too had participated in such an adventuresome tradition.

When Jalene admitted her crime, Glenn hastened to deal with what he deemed a most dastardly deed. As he immediately removed his large, leather belt, Jalene knew what awaited her. Following her beating, she was forced to remain at home scrubbing all windows, including those she had not soaped. Glenn was always eager to use Jalene as a free maid and this time was no different. While other children were attending the fireman’s party, Jalene sobbed and pleaded for her father’s mercy.

As Jalene carried the bucket of water from window to window her hands were numb and painful from the water and cold, northern OH night air. Jalene’s emotional frustration only exacerbated Glenn’s delight in witnessing Jalene’s distress. The few soaped windows could have easily been cleaned the following night, but Glenn insisted Jalene would receive the maximum punishment that very night. Certainly one would have thought the physical thrashing would be enough punishment, but not for Glenn.

Jalene’s schoolmates passed by her home asking if she was attending the party. Her moans and cries could be heard for several houses away as she continued to plead with her father to attend the party. It wasn’t meant to be. This wouldn’t be the last time Glenn inflicted great punishment for a lesser crime, but it would be one which Jalene would never forget. Over 60 decades later, that night is a clear vision in Jalene’s memory.

With the upcoming holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas, those events also would be minimized in the Maher family. Jayne had little tolerance for the holidays. Therefore, such feelings of dislike were felt by each of the children. The custom in the Maher home was to have one gift for the holidays. Routinely, it was a necessary item of clothing, such as a coat, a pair of pajamas or perhaps only socks and underwear.

Jalene always vowed when “she was big” she would make certain all the holidays were special, but especially Christmas. She maintained that promise not only to herself, but to her family.

Please continue to join me on Jalene’s journey.

Jalene’s transportation

Welcome to Simply Jalene the biography of a young girl whom overcame the obstacles of child abuse and poverty to experience domestic violence, estrangement and homosexuality as an adult.

Jalene’s journey began as an infant, toddler and young child in northern OH. Her carefree days as a child were changed at the young age of 5. By then her family of 3 had increased to 7. Jalene’s life and upbringing would never again be classified as normal. Certainly it was far less than average.

At age 5, Jalene’s parents, Glenn and Jayne had enlarged their family with a son, Glenn Jr. 4 years younger than Jalene and a daughter, Louise 5 years younger than Jalene. Additionally, the family of 5 of had become a refuge for Jalene’s maternal grandmother Rose, suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and Jalene’s paternal uncle, Don whom was homeless.

During this time of transition from a family of 3 to 7, Jalene was befriended by a kind, matronly neighbor whom had lost her only daughter at age 5. Jalene became a substitute daughter to “Auntie Alice” as Jalene so lovingly called Mrs. Shaw. When life became unbearable at home, Jalene would grab her roller skates; key around her neck and “skate away” the 5-6 blocks to Auntie Alice’s home.

The colorful seasons of OH provided an opportunity to gather treasures to share. From bountiful, fragrant lilacs to the colorful and bright, large, maple leaves or the buckeyes from the native trees, Jalene made each skating journey a memorable one.

Upon arrival to Auntie Alice’s, Jalene pulled off her skates, tossing them in the screened porch of the early 20th century house, which was her “second home.” Auntie Alice would greet Jalene with a huge, warm, hug and offer of cookies and milk. On occasion the treat was a homemade banana split or sundae. Jalene’s heart raced eagerly when she saw Auntie Alice remove the “special” ice cream dishes from the china cabinet.   Jalene’s mother never provided homemade goodies. Such treats were experienced only from the kindness of others, such as Auntie Alice.

Following the short visit and partaking of the treats, it was time to strap on the “rolling” transportation and return home. Jalene never knew what to expect upon her return, but never was it an abode of love, kindness or peace.

Please join me again as we travel with Jalene on her journey.