My name is Tommy and I just closed the door to my car and the last 15 years of my life. As I move my left hand, holding the key, up towards the ignition switch, those years flash before me. As I drive away, looking to my right I see Ingrid my future wife and our new life together. In the rearview mirror I see Mum and my dog Bobbin and my past. In the pages that follow, I’ll be telling the story of a boy being torn apart, by his need for his biological mother and his physical and emotional needs to be part of a loving family.
I grew up in the small town of Sudbury, Massachusetts. As you will read, times were simpler, back then. I lived there from the late-1940s through 1964, when I moved away. After I left and attended some school, joined and spent four years in the Navy. The draft was active at the time, so instead of being drafted into the Army, I chose to “sail the seven seas.” I can’t say I traveled to all seven of them, but I did get to a few. While in Electronics Training School, I married Ingrid, the “girl back home.” After the Navy, unable to find work in Massachusetts, a friend suggested that I come to the Hudson Valley in New York State, which we did. Ingrid and I were able to settle down with good careers, and were finally able to buy a house. We had one son, Will, who currently lives in Vermont. Yes, up in snow country. Some years later we were divorced and I have remarried, am now enjoying retirement and still live in the Hudson Valley.
Why would I tell you some of my adult story? So that you’ll understand the one thing that has prevailed in the back of my mind during my adult life, my childhood. It has always seemed sort of strange to me because whenever I’d discuss childhood stuff with most friends, they have little memory of it. One exception to this is my good friend Mel Birnkrant. Other than Mel, most have simply put their childhood out of their minds. It seems like they want to move on, and live in the present and forget the past. That may be OK for them, but that’s not how it has been for me. For me, it’s almost like I obsess over my childhood sometimes and I believe this is the reason that I’ve been able to keep my memories of these time alive within me. For better or worse, that’s just the way it is.
In 1991, I started a journal, little did I realize where this adventure in writing would take me. While this journal turned memoir is not what I’d call a traditional one, it is by definition, a “memoir,” nonetheless. To me a traditional memoir tells a story, continuing from start to the end. My memoir is more of an Episodic writing style, which is a collection of vignettes or short scenes describing events that occurred. I have placed them in chronological order as best as I could. But it is really up to you, the reader to add the final touch. I invite you to assemble the pieces of this jigsaw puzzle in your mind to glimpse the entire picture of my childhood.
In order to provide you with some background information, I have decided to first provide some genealogical information on two family lines. First we’ll be traveling back to the early 1600s to get a glimpse of the Clark family and how they migrated to the New World and finally settled in Sudbury, Massachusetts. Then we’ll follow the Brouwer family as they migrate from the Netherlands and finally end up in the Chicago, Illinois area with the surname of Brewer. Then we’ll travel through a series of decisions made that set me on a path that places me in the town of Sudbury with the Clark family.
Then we’ll continue the story of a boy growing up in that small town that will span from his birth through his graduation from high school. We’ll follow his journey being taken from his dysfunctional family and ultimate divorce and then placed into a home providing room and board. He learns about abandonment and does his best to deal with it. The results of this is to follow him on into the future knowing in his heart that something is missing. Like a hole in his gut. In the future, he will start to use the term foster family for those who loved and cared for him. While foster family is actually an inaccurate term, for this story, it will be ok. We will learn that the woman that took him in was actually a perfect match. She was able to offset the unloving environment of his biological family, by providing him with all of the care and nourishment that he needed. In the end, after her death he was one of three people to receive anything from her estate. The point here is, she truly loved Tommy.
One final thought before we get going here. For quite some time I’ve been struggling with how much personal information that I should share. As we all know, everyone has their own secrets in life that they just do not tell anyone. I certainly have a bunch. I’ve decided that in order to be honest and try to paint an accurate picture of whom I am and the kind of environment we grew up in, I need to include some of those here. If anyone is offended by my including something you prefer not to see, please accept my apology as that certainly is not my intent.