It’s a girl!

It’s a girl!

Birth Announcement
Birth Announcement

The phone rang early on that Sunday morning in the Pratt home in Flint, Michigan with a long-distance call from Saginaw – about 40 miles away.  When Gram answered, Dad simply said, “Happy Mother’s Day”.  Her immediate response was, “What is it?”  “It” was a long, skinny baby girl with dark hair who was soon named Lynnette.

2 or three months old
two or three months old

At 9 pounds, 9 ounces and 21 1/2 inches long, I was big and healthy.  However, during my first months of life, I was plagued with digestion problems and couldn’t tolerate regular formula.  Following  the doctor’s orders, my parents fed me a smorgasbord of concoctions in an attempt to find something that my system could “stomach”.  In the mid 1950’s, commercially produced formula wasn’t widely available – even for babies without stomach problems.  So whatever they tried didn’t come in a can, but was mixed by my mother in her own kitchen and then poured into sterilized glass  bottles that she stored in the refrigerator. That must have been a chore for her.  I have vague memories of Mom mixing formula for my younger siblings using evaporated milk, water and some corn syrup.  Horrors!

On the bassinette - changing table
On the bathinet - changing table

Projectile vomiting was my routine after every feeding, and my parents soon learned to never burp me while I was facing them.  After weeks or maybe months of trial and error during which time my dad regularly carried my stool sample to the hospital for evaluation (talk about a father’s love!), I think they finally found some soy formula that I could handle. After following that regimen for several months, the doctor was still somewhat concerned when I weighed only 17 pounds at 1 year.  However, after a few more months of growth along with solid food I began to put on a little weight and before long was measuring in the “normal” range.  Oh, to be plagued with an inability to gain weight now!

Mom holding me
Mom and me in our classic 50's attire

I was the third child in the family.  David, born 20 September 1951, was not yet three and Yvonne, born 9 September, 1952, was not yet two.  In September of that year when I was about four months old, Dad returned to Michigan State at Lansing to finish his Master’s Degree.  So Mother was left alone (remember this house?) with three little children and no car during the week – Dad came home only on the weekends.

My mother was a strong woman.  Thanks for the great example!

Early Memories

Early Memories

My first childhood memories are connected with our home at 1117 Phelon Street in Saginaw.  In 1956 we moved to that home from our little country house and lived there until 1958.  For most of us, any memories from our preschool years are vague, but a few things have stayed in my long term storage – perhaps only because I’ve heard my parents tell those stories.

David in front of 1117 Phelon Street - about 1957
David in front of 1117 Phelon Street - about 1957

I have a fuzzy memory of the front porch of this house.  Did we play there?  Sleep there in the summer?  I can’t recall details, but it’s interesting that the porch is the only part of the house that I remember!  Our landlords were Bea and Murray Muellerweiss who lived around the corner from us, and with whom my parents remained friends for many years after we moved away.  I recall that they had a long, tall wooden stairway leading to the second story of their home.  Maybe they rented the upstairs to another family?

My most significant memory of this house and neighborhood still has an impact on me today.  One day while outside with my mom, a large – maybe German Shepherd – dog came bounding towards me. He was not vicious, just happy, friendly, and looking for a playmate. Because of  his substantial size, my skinny little body was no match for his energy, and he knocked me to the ground in his excitement.  His enthusiasm to play was obvious as he licked my face all the while jumping around and wagging his tail!  I can only imagine my shrieks of terror, but Mother has described them as loud, long, and impressive.  When she was finally able to get to my rescue, in probably only a matter of seconds, she pulled me to safety and assured me that I was fine.  I suffered no cuts, bruises or scrapes – just a little dog slobber on my face!  But to this day I have a “healthy respect” for large dogs and avoid them whenever possible!

As a child in the 1950’s, I spent many  hours playing outside.  Because of my naturally darker skin tone (and the lack of sunscreen), the summer sun tanned my skin to a deep shade of brown.  My elbows and knees were particularly dark, and no amount of scrubbing with Comet cleanser would clean them up!  Mother had to resign herself to the fact that I just looked a little unkempt during the summer.  However, in the mid 1950’s segregation was still an issue, and one of the neighbor girls refused to play with me, because she didn’t want to play with “that little colored girl.”

1117 Phelon Street - Saginaw, Michigan
1117 Phelon Street - Saginaw, Michigan

August, 2010
August, 2010

This house now sits in a run-down and somewhat questionable neighborhood, but after 50+ years I guess that’s to be expected.