It was just about the time that they moved into the new house that I was born. If I can't expound upon the first few years of my life for lack of confident memories, it might be useful to talk more about these two people that brought me into this world.
My dad was born and raised in the same town of Riderwood in Baltimore County, and attended Riderwood Elementary, as did my mom (she was one class below...they probably passed each other in the hall, oblivious their lifelong partner was feet away). He had a sister, Gerri, eleven years older. If my dad ever got into trouble (and he absolutely did), it always seemed tame in light of the trouble Aunt Gerri incurred. As my dad has since explained to me, she apparently felt sorry for the kids with rougher backgrounds, and found herself befriending them, which in the long run probably worked to her disadvantage. She ended up marrying one of those friends at the age of sixteen, and multiple other love interests gave her three boys with separate fathers.
I remember my dad telling me stories where he'd find her sneaking out of the house, and after threatening to tell on her would sometimes find himself accompanying her and her friends for some of their fun. According to him, she was having a party in their basement one night (most likely involving some not-so-parent-friendly activities), and a male friend of hers had come upstairs and said sternly to my grandfather, "Don't come downstairs, and there won’t be a problem." The next morning Granddad had to use a hose to clean out basement. I’m still trying to guess why.
I always imagine my dad's parents as having been traditional, but it may have just been that everyone at the time was. My grandfather was a very skilled artist. While his job title may have been more along the lines of advertising, he was an artist. But he always said that you had to do something with art, because art by itself is a hard thing to sell. Part of that stuck with me, as I now test my artistic abilities in the realm of architecture. My grandmother was the best cook I ever knew. Perhaps the most vivid image of her I can recall is that of her back to everyone, preparing something over the kitchen counter. It certainly meant good things were in store.
She was a Protestant. He was a Catholic. They prayed to the same God. I may never know how truly spiritual they were, but they were adamant about things like not cutting the grass on Sunday, that sort of thing. They were fond of classical music when my dad was a boy, and still were by the time I came around. Granddad always said that you could tell music was good if they still played it hundreds of years later. When my dad was young, my grandmother had told him not to listen to The Four Seasons, since "only homosexuals could ever sing so high."
I think my Dad was a good son for the most part, but his grades were never exemplary. He wasn’t dumb by any means. He simply didn't care for school that much. He has a grand sense of humor now, and I'm pretty sure he had one then. Even when he was a little boy, he told me how he had knocked his mom's vase onto the floor while she was vacuuming, subsequently shattering it, but how she had not noticed due to the noise of the vacuum. He knew she'd find out soon though, and was quick to run and find a book, which he stuck down the back of his pants. When she saw the broken vase, she had tried to spank him, only to find he was protected by the book he had equipped himself with, and instead of getting angry, she could only laugh.