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I Am The Woman
By Denise Taylor
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2010 Denise Taylor
All right reserved.
Chapter OneStarting From The Beginning
To get an understanding where the Lord brought me from I would have to start from the beginning. I was born in New York Presbyterian Hospital located in Manhattan. I was raised in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. I lived in a three family apartment building. I was an only child, and of course I was spoiled. My mother and father raised me very well. They were good parents. As for me, I was what you would call an average child.
I attended Catholic School and a Catholic Church. I was christened in a Catholic Church. I had my first communion in a Catholic Church. I also did my first confession in a Catholic Church. Back in those days when I was coming up it was a good thing to put your child in a Catholic School, because the nuns were very strict on children. They really knew how to discipline a child. They often told us to sit straight in our chairs, slouching was not allowed. If you were caught chewing gum you would have to sit in the class with the gum on your forehead. I remember whenever the school bell would ring during recess, we would have to stop whatever we were doing, stand still, and form a perfect single line. They didn't tolerate bad behavior in Catholic Schools. Believe me they were nothing like the schools today, today you can get away with just about anything. I also remember a time when we were told that there was a whopping machine in one of the school's offices, and if we were ever to misbehave they would put us in that whooping machine. Of course there really wasn't a whopping machine that was just one of their scare tactics. And believe me it worked. The nuns really didn't have much of a problem with me because I was a quiet, timid little girl. I guess you can say I was shy. I very seldom gave my parents any problems.
My parents gave me just about anything I wanted. I had pets, dolls, bicycles, roller skates and tons of games. I will never forget my first pet. It was a cat. Her name was Tina. A pretty black and white cat. She did just about everything with me. At night when I would go to bed, she would curl up in the bed with me. In the morning when I would wake up she would be right by my side. She would be the first thing that I would see. Sometimes she would wake me up in the morning. She would take her little paw and tap my braid, and automatically I would wake up. I can't fail to leave out Fluffy my dog , he was a fluffy beige Poodle. The most fascinating thing about Fluffy is that he used to love to stand on his two hind legs and dance. Whenever music came on Fluffy would begin to dance. Tina and Fluffy got along very well.
I told you I was spoiled, which I didn't seem to mind at all. I also was a Brownie, Girl Scout. I went on camping trips and did all the fun things Brownies were suppose to do. So basically, I had a normal childhood. I had my likes and dislikes. I liked to eat watermelon. My father use to pick out the sweetest watermelon in the whole batch.
On hot summer days my best friend and I used to sit on the stoop and eat watermelons all day long. Spinach was one of the foods that I disliked. I couldn't stand to eat spinach, just looking at it made feel sick. My mother used to hold my nose with one hand and feed me spinach with the other hand. What an experience that was. She always managed to get me to eat all my spinach. I remember when my mother used to give me a teaspoon of cod liver oil every morning. That was the nastiest thing I ever tasted. My mother would tell me that it was good for me. She told me that it would keep me from catching colds. She had all kinds of home remedies. There's nothing like a mother. She would dress me up with matching clothes. The shoes matched the dress. The hat matched the coat. She always kept my hair so nice and neat, the way a little girl was suppose to look.
I loved to play house with my mother. I remember when she would make clothes for my Barbie dolls. One time she actually made a real fur coat for my doll. My mother was a seamstress she used to make clothes from scratch, without a pattern. My mother even made my uniforms for school. She was very experienced when it came to sewing. We had a good time together. I would bake cakes with my easy bake oven, and my mother and I would sit at the table and eat our cakes together. The one thing I really loved playing with my mother was doctor. That was my favorite. My mother would always find something for us to play when I was a little girl. She always kept me busy. Jump rope was another one of my favorite things to do. I think I was the best when it came to jumping double dutch. We used to say, " two four six eight who do you appreciate?". I could jump rope all day long. Next to jump rope, Jacks and Ball was next. My girlfriends and I would sit on the ground and play Jacks and Ball for hours.
My mother was the first one to teach me how to fight. I never liked fighting, so the kids in school used to pick on me a lot, I was a very timid little girl. My mother used to tell me, "enough is enough you are going to learn how to fight". She told me that I must be able to defend myself. I had the best coach, and I must say she did a good job. I didn't have many fights but after learning how to defend myself I was no longer intimidated by other children.
Now my father, let's see, where do I begin with him? I was daddy's little girl. He never let me want for anything. He took me everywhere I wanted to go. Some of the places I can remember him taking me to as a child was of course the famous Coney Island. Every time I went to Coney Island I had a ball. My father would let me get on all the rides I wanted to go on, there were no limitation. One of my favorite rides was the Bumper Cars. I would ride them over and over again, until I got tired. My father and I would also eat at the famous Nathan's. They had the best hot dogs. Not to mention their Shrimps. My father would buy me a large root beer soda. And he would always eat his clams with a large cold beer. We would sit on the Boardwalk and eat. Sometimes my mother went with us, but most of the time it was daddy and his little girl. Some of the other places that I went to were the Circus, The Ice Capades, and Bear Mountain Park. Once he even took me to a live production children television show called Wonderoma. My father used to take me to the race track. He used to love to bet on horses. I enjoyed going with him. He would take me to the stables and let me pet the horses. And when it was time for the horses to start running, he would sit me on the fence as close as possible, so that I could get a good look at the horses as they came across the finish line. My father and I would be rooting for our horse to win. My father had a very loud voice. Every time the horse that he bet would win he would give a loud shout. We had so much fun together.
I can remember when I went with my father to pick out a new car. He actually let me pick out the car that I wanted. It was a bright red station wagon. I named the car Suzie. I tell you, there was nothing my daddy wouldn't do for his little girl. I can also remember how my daddy and I used to sing and dance. He used to love to sing. Actually there were a few singers in his family. My daddy always thought that he could sing, but his real speciality was dancing. He was the best dancer around. He used to dance just like James Brown. He could really slide across the floor. My mother used to tell me that every time they went out to dance all the women wanted to dance with him. My mother wasn't to happy about that. But it was all in fun.
Not only was my father a good dancer, but he also was a sharp dresser. He was so handsome. He had a good grade of hair, it was naturally curly. I remember when my mother use to wear her hot pants and her gogo boots. She really looked good. She knew how to wear an afro. My mother always took good care of herself. My father was a very proud man, and he wanted my mother to look good. And believe me she did. She always smelled good. She used to wear expensive perfume, perfumes that you could smell the minute she entered the room. I can see my father smiling whenever he saw her enter a room. I called them the two love birds. The same way my father took care of me he took care of my mother. Whatever she wanted he would buy it for her. He used to call us his best two girls.
I remember when my father brought me my first brand new bike. At that time, I owned a bright red bicycle. I loved my bicycle very much. Even though all of my friends were riding the latest style bikes, I never complained. I was always content with the things that I had. I would get on my bicycle, and I would ride right along with them. Sometimes I even passed them.
That day finally came. I remember it very clearly. I was sitting in my living room window when I saw my father pull up in his work truck. He opened the back door of the truck, and he rolled out a brand new purple banana seat bike. My eyes stretched wide open when I saw the bike. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I called my mother to the window. She came running to the window as if something drastic had happened. As she looked out of the window she was just as surprised as I was. I never asked my father to buy me a new bike. I was happy with the one that I had. My father was the type of father who knew when it was time for something new, and he would take it upon himself to see that I would have whatever it was that I needed.
My father brought me my first pair of white roller skates with red pompoms. My friends an I used to go roller skating on Saturdays at the Empire Roller Rink. My father would drop us off and pick us up when it was time to go home. We had a good time. They would play all of the latest records, and we would skate around that rink doing our fancy steps. Not to mention all of the cute boys that were there. We couldn't wait for the DJ to say, "couples only", just to see which boy would ask us to skate with them. One thing I can't leave out are spankings. Back then, that's what they were called. Today, they are called beatings. Well anyway, I can count the number of times on my fingers that I got spankings and the total number would be two. Yes, you heard me right. And both of them came from my mother. My father would never dream of spanking his little girl. He left the spanking business in my mother's hand.
I lived in Brooklyn for thirteen years. Then my father decided he wanted to move away from Brooklyn. He wanted to move to a residential area. So we moved to Queens. I remember when we first started looking for a house. Every house we would look at my father would ask me, "is this the one?" And of course, it wasn't what I was looking for. My father actually let me pick out the house that I liked.
One day we pulled up in front of a little green house on a corner. It was shaped like a Carvel Ice Cream Parlor. It had a big backyard. It even had a big hill that I could roll down. The yard was huge, big enough for a pool. When I saw that particular house especially the back yard, my father didn't have to ask me any questions, he just saw the expression on my face, and he knew that was the one. My father brought the house, and he even added on an additional bedroom, and guess what? I helped him build the room. Well, actually all I did was pass him the hammer and nails. It was so exciting, and when he completed the bedroom it was beautiful.
There I was, a thirteen-year old teenager in a new neighborhood. Once I became a teenager, I had no interest in Catholic School anymore. Since we had moved to Queens, that was the perfect opportunity for me to go to Public School. My teenager life was exciting. I did get to attend Public School. The name of the School was P.S. 63. How could I ever forget the name of the first Public School I ever attended, especially not having to wear those boring uniforms anymore. My teachers name was Mrs. Nanarole. She was a very nice teacher, I had no problems with her. I was so excited. Public School was so much different from Catholic School. The teenagers carried themselves differently. Nothing like the teenagers today. I seemed to blend right in with them. I guess that was because I wanted to fit in with them. I guess you can say that I was a follower. They all seem to be so free spirited. As for me, I wasn't a rowdy teenager. I was a teenager who just wanted to have fun.
Remember the big back yard I mentioned earlier? Well, I did get the big pool I wanted. My summers were spent swimming in my pool. I would invite my friends from the neighborhood to join me. My mother would cook franks and hamburgers on the grill for us, and we would have big time fun.
In the summer my father would give the best cookouts. We would have live music and a DJ. The best part of the cookout would be the Soul Train Line, the Bus Stop, and the Robot. These were some of the dances that we would do. We would dance until the sun went down. I used to love to dance. But most of all I used to love to see my mother and father dance, as I mentioned earlier my father was the best James Brown dancer. He had James Brown steps down packed. Nobody could dance the way that my father danced. He really knew how to cut a rug.
Even though I lived in Queens, on the weekends I would go to Brooklyn, I would spend the weekends with a very close friend of the family. She was like an aunt to me. I would stay with her, and this way I would be able to see all of my old friends that I grew up with. Not to mention the boy that I liked. He used to live across the street from my apartment building. At that time he had a crush on me. I was ten years old I had no interest in boys. I really never paid much attention to this boy who had a crush on me. He would always tease me or run by me and pull my hair. You know, that kind of silly stuff that boys do to girls when they like them. Every time I would turn around he would be right there. Sometimes he would sit on the stoop with me and we would eat potato chips and talk. To me he was just another boy. My friends would tell me that he liked me, but I wouldn't pay them any attention. My father was not very fond of him. As a matter of fact, he didn't like him at all. When ever he saw him sitting on the stoop, he would run him away. He would tell him, " go back across the street where you live, and leave my daughter alone." I was so embarrassed . But what could I do, I was a little girl, and he was my father.
As I got older and continued to go to Brooklyn on the weekends I was seeing that same boy. We started out being friends, talking a little here and there. Finally, we exchanged telephone numbers. At that time, I was able to receive phone call from boys. I was fourteen then. Gradually, I began to like this boy. Eventually we became boyfriend and girlfriend. We started going steady. I fell in love with this boy. I went to Brooklyn on the weekends just to be with him. Every opportunity that I got I would go to Brooklyn. I could hardly wait for the weekends to come just so that I could get to see him. Being with him on the weekends meant so much to me because it would be the only time I would be able to see him. Sometimes when I would be with my boyfriend on the weekends, we would go to parties. I loved to see him dance. He was so smooth and whenever a slow record would come on, I would get lost in his arms. Back in the days we used to call this type of dancing the slow drag. Every girl wanted to slow drag with a good looking guy.
I started smoking cigarettes when I was sixteen years old. The funny thing about it is that I didn't even know how to inhale. I would just blow smoke into the air. My girlfriends and I would sneak to the corner store and buy a pack of cigarettes. We would stand by the bus stop and smoke our cigarettes. We would make sure the bus was not coming so we would not get caught smoking. We always did our smoking on the down low, because we never knew who would be on that bus, and we definitely did not want to get caught. I remember when I got caught smoking in the house for the first time. What a surprise.
My father was not home, and it was Bingo night for my mother so I was left at home alone. I was sitting on the living room couch, with a cigarette in one hand, and a can of Lysol spray in the other hand. There was a knock at the front door, and instead of putting out the cigarette I went to the door with the cigarette in my hand. When I opened the door you would have never guessed who was standing behind the door. It was my mother, unfortunately she had forgotten her bingo chips, and had returned for them. All I could do was throw the cigarette down on the rug and quickly step on it. Thank God there was no damage to the rug. When my mother entered the house she had already smelled the cigarette smoke in the air. She looked at me and said, "Denise are you smoking?" And of course I looked her in her face and said, "no." What a day that was.
Excerpted from I Am The Woman by Denise Taylor Copyright © 2010 by Denise Taylor. Excerpted by permission.
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