I was there on the day I was born, but I do not remember anything about the occasion. My mother had to fill in the details for me. She tells me that it was a cold November day. She had spent the morning gathering pecans in the yard around the garage apartment where she and my father lived on Heights Boulevard in Houston, Texas. I can almost see her crawling around on the grass wearing my father’s wool Army coat to keep warm while hunting for the nuts and storing them in a paper bag. It was so like her to find joy in nature’s bounty. She was a young twenty two year old who was glamorously beautiful with her full head of wavy black hair and her sultry brown eyes.
No doubt she already had plans to use her pecans to create cookies or candies for the soon to come holidays. Instead her back began to hurt so she went inside to lie down for a bit. While she was resting her water broke so she knew it was time to go to the hospital. She called my father and he hurried home from work. Then then two of them traveled the short distance to Heights Hospital where her doctor was already waiting for her.
Mama never mentioned anything about the birth process itself. It must have gone without incident or she would have said something. So I suppose that within a few hours I was born without incident on November 18, 1948, a bald headed wonder with a chubby face and blue eyes that would quickly turn brown. They named me Sharron Dianne Little with the double letters in each name because my mother thought they looked pretty that way. Being a mom was my mother’s greatest dream, so needless to say she was quite happy to have a little girl to love and cherish for the her rest of her life.
She and my father took me home to the garage apartment that is no longer there. The owners sold both their home and the apartment many years ago. For a time it was the site of a gas station. Later is became a United States Post Office. Now it is home for little shops. Back then it was a cute but small haven for Mama and Daddy who were both quite young and filled with a lifetime of plans.
Mama tells me that members of the family flocked to the apartment to visit and help her during her first days home. A baby book that she completed for me is filled with cards and good wishes and lots of information about my sleep habits and my nighttime feedings. Pictures from that time show me dressed in sweaters that my grandmothers and aunts had crocheted in pastel colors. Mama bragged that she kept me warm by swaddling me in blankets that were handmade as well. I don’t have to remember those times to know how much I was loved. The care with which my mother created that baby books tells me all I ever need to understand.
My father was still a student at Texas A&M College studying Mechanical Engineering. The institution was not yet a university, but a land grant college founded in the late nineteen hundreds. It was still an all male institution and the arch rival of the University of Texas in Austin. Daddy took awhile graduating because he often had to suspend his attendance to work so that he might save money for food and housing while at the school. He was young and handsome and full of energy, so the pressures of being a student, husband and father didn’t seem to bother him at all. He loved learning and his quest for knowledge would never really end. Going to school was like a holiday for him so these would be some of his happiest of times.
Not long after I was born our family headed for the married student housing area of Texas A&M and my first adventure at a college. My father was a bonafide high spirited Aggie. He never missed a football game and he often dressed me in maroon and white gear. He sung The Spirit of Aggieland to me as though it was a lullaby. Meanwhile my mother joined cheerfully into all of the traditions and often spoke with a kind of reverence of how happy we all were while we lived there.
I have seem pictures of my father hoisting me on his shoulders as he smiled happily in front of the small apartment that we all shared. There are photos of me standing with my thumbs up wearing an Aggie emblazoned sweater. I suspect that maroon will always be in my DNA. To this day it is one of my favorite colors and I seem to wear it well.
I have no real memories of actually existing until my father had graduated and landed his first job. He and my mother immediately purchased a house on Kingsbury Street in southeast Houston. I can remember vivid details of our time there even though I could not have been more than three years old when we first arrived. It was a lovely house with gleaming wooden floors, three bedrooms, a large kitchen and a living room and dining room combination. On the back of the house was a screened in porch that looked onto a huge backyard. Since it was brand new everything about it was shiny and perfect.
The only thing I remember from before moving to our first real house is a shadowy moment in which I am sitting on my mother’s lap on a boat. We are surrounded by lots of people and I can feel the ship rocking up and down. There is wind blowing in my face and even though I am safely with my mother I had the feeling that I was unsure of being okay. All of a sudden everyone began moving to the side of the boat and pointing to a huge figure that looked like a giant standing in the water. It scared me and I hid my face in my mother’s chest while she cradled me and told me everything would be okay. She and I later surmised that we had been going to see the Statue of Liberty when I was about two years old. Years later when I went there as an adult I had a profound sense of deja vu.
Memories of our new home on the other hand were not frightening at all and I would enjoy our time time there with the unbridled enthusiasm of a very young child. There would be many great times ahead as I went from being the center of all of my parents’ attention to sharing them with new members of my family.