My brother Terry and his gal Barb would come over to visit and go to the beach from the University of Florida where Ray and I both graduated a few years earlier. And if we could find a babysitter we could head to our alma mater for live concerts: James Brown killing us with his music and falling down drunk off the stage, or the first live performance of Jesus Christ Superstar with ‘actual’ nudity. In fact Terry and Barbara were the first to offer to take care of Scooter for the weekend, giving us time alone together before our next baby Nicole was born. He was at the height of the terrible two’s: independent, willful and not very language proficient. I remember pulling up from our first vacation, the two of them looking totally exhausted, outside on the lawn with Scooter awaiting our arrival.
My mother, formerly a speech therapist and drama coach, felt comfortable taking care of him, which she would do often when we’d get together on weekends. They took to each other immediately and loved spending time together. In his words:
“Grandma Green, the grandmother I was closest to, was one of the most loving and generous people I knew. One of the reasons we had a close bond was because she used to be a speech therapist and would coach me on saying words properly when I couldn’t hear them. She always spoke to me as an adult and would discuss worldly things with me which I loved because it would broaden my inquisitive mind.”
We stayed in our little Ormond Beach Peyton Place for 7 years as the hippie itch attacked me. I read Be Here Now by Ram Dass, smoked my first joint, did macramé, wore vintage clothes without a bra, stopped shaving my legs and yearned to be a flower child. Such a dreamer! How in the hell did I ever talk daddy Ray into leaving his Merrell Lynch life, still wearing the tied neck and shiny shoes of his military past? Maybe part of it was that my brother and all his hippie friends were graduating from college and celebrating with an adventure across the USA, living on the road, and we got caught up in the excitement.
The planning began. We sold our house, bought a van and refurbished it into a rolling home. Ray quit his job and applied for unemployment. We’d have money to live on until we decided what we wanted to do with the rest of our lives. Our underlying motive became combing the country to find a superlative oral school for Scooter to give him the background he needed to be successfully mainstreamed into regular hearing classes.