I see that I can better recall memories when I can situate myself in one of our nine houses. We were in the last house, the one we bought, the day that my friend Ellie and I helped our mutual friend, Ava, she of the unfair fight, run away. She was going to leave her mother’s apartment in the “The Tenement” to go live with her father. The Tenement, so called by everyone, was the only apartment house in our village. To live there was to be known to be poor.
While Ava’s mother was away, Ellie and I went to the apartment and took away Ava’s clothes, including a “teddy bear” coat. We were to deposit them at her friend’s house on the other side of the village. We were walking up Main St., when we met an adult, who quizzed us about what we were doing. We said that someone had given us the clothes for the church rummage sale. “They gave you a teddy bear coat?” he said, skeptically.
That night Ava was to sleep on the roof of a shed, and in the morning she was going to catch the train to her father’s. About 10 PM, my mother came upstairs to tell me that Ava’s older brother had just been there. Ava had run away from home, and they were looking for her. Their dog came right to our house, but my mother explained that Ava wasn’t here, that our cocker spaniel Tinker was in heat and that was why their dog had made a beeline. Ava did take the morning train to Lowell, but she wasn’t gone long.
She and her mother moved away a few years later. One summer day when I was in college, perhaps five years later, she and her mother stopped in. Ava was married and looked astoundingly matronly. Her mother wouldn’t agree to sit down or have a cup of tea. When Ava started to talk, her mother said, “Nancy isn’t married, so you shouldn’t talk to her about such things.” I used this memory in a novel.