14 Village Drive

Charlie and Jean moved to the Village of Mount Carmel from Indianapolis just before Christmas the year I turned six on November 1st, 1957. I remember starting first grade in Indianapolis, at five and then changing schools after the move. My admission to grade one required a personal interview with Sister Paul, a short asthmatic tightly bound woman who nevertheless managed to chase me out of the classroom and into the boys' bathroom pounding my head with a book, later in the year, where I finished throwing up for the day. She was a terrifying woman.

This is the front of the house, today as seen from google street view. On the left, the master bedroom and bath windows, front entrance, kitchen window, house-wide dining room, and garage that had been converted into a TV family room. There were two back-to-back fireplaces, one in the dining room, one in a den. The den was at the center of the house, between the front entrance and the back patio with an entrance into the back of the dining room.

I grew up in the Village of Mount Carmel. It was a great place to grow up, at the time it was pretty much in the middle of corn-field, Indiana, about halfway between where John Cougar Mellencamp and Vice Poodle Mike Pence were hatched. Today Carmel Indiana is considered one of the best small cities to live in; in the United States.

This is from the back of the property from google maps today and you can just make out the upper floor dormers that my parents added to the house as the family grew in the mid-1960s. One set of windows was in the dining room and the other dad's office overlooking a pink cement back patio with a well and a small tree in the middle. There was a short wall around the patio with flowerbeds and entrances to the backyard and driveway. The garage on the left wasn't there, that was a driveway and a large vegetable garden. The windows on the right were to a large bedroom with three beds and two huge walk-in closets.

In the backyard, there was a small shed at the back of the house and a play-house at the back of the property. Off the dining room, there was a half-bath, pantry, and utility room with a water softener, washer, and dryer. In the hallway was a ceiling fan that cooled the entire house in the evenings after a hot Indiana day. The top of the house was covered with lighting rods and thick copper cables running to the ground. The lightning storms in Indiana are tremendous and are the only thing I miss after all these years.

The dormer addition resulted in the night the ceiling came down on the family at dinner. Jean had pots on the dining room table, as we were eating, catching the water draining out the huge basin that had appeared over our heads. I remember looking up just as the water burst through. The contractor had worked for two weeks tearing off the roof and had just started with the flooring. Each night he had diligently covered the roof with a tarp. When he got paid, he took off. No tarp. At 14, I had been assigned to be his helper so Charlie and I went up in an Indiana lighting storm to position a tarp.

14 Village Drive backed onto property belonging to Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church and elementary school taught by the Sisters of Saint Joseph. Father MacDonald was the church pastor. Charlie planted a row of poplars along the driveway and a double row of pines between the house and church property. There was a small trash burner at the end of the pines. I have a burn on my right arm from a rubber ball I tried to rescue out of that trash burner.

Besides the vegetable garden, Charlie planted peach, apple, and plum trees. He grew roses along the front white picket fence in the front of the house. Jean played the organ at 6:30 am mass and sang, while Charlie got the house ready for the day. He was a whistler and would visit each bedroom in the morning, a 1960s digital alarm. He made Sunday breakfast. I was an altar boy, learning Latin by rote. Jean was logical and insisted on proper grammar and taught me to read long before I started school. She was tireless, ran the house, managed the kids and when reason failed threatened us with Charlie. Dad hit me twice, once when half-heartily swinging a broom at my sister Mary who had irritated him for some reason just as I walked out the door; and once while trying to start an outboard motor, as we drifted away from the dock. Charlie was all heart and soul, who couldn't hurt a fly. Brilliant Intellectuals, passionate polymaths, committed leaders in the local Church and Jesuit community. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin may have patted my head as a toddler. who noos?

Jean and Charlie did a great job especially given the circumstances of the times. We all, in fact, do the best we can given the state of consciousnesses and self-awareness that we have. Ken Wilber speaks about waking up and growing up, but that is a topic for theTotalPane.ca

You are not a human being in search of a spiritual experience. You are a spiritual being immersed in a human experience.

The den was Charlies' Office, where he worked in the evenings, smoking a pipe or huge cigars while working on management of the family electrical business started by his father in the depression, or Master Degrees in History and Theology all while listening to house wide classical music and arguing the merits of some article in the New Yorker with Jean. Jean had the images of Catholic Saints cast for each child that she gave birth to.

The issue in the 1950s was not abortion, in keeping with the dictates of the Roman Catholic Church, Jean and Charlie did not believe in BIRTH CONTROL and as a result Jean was pregnant from the age of 26 to her mid 40's. I did not understand the power of belief nor history as a young adult and simply thought that they were crazy.

As a historian one of Dad's favorite quotes offers the perspective of the Queen Victorian Era (1837-1901), when the sun didn't set on the British Empire and when people in London lived in deathtraps. They wallpapered their homes with Scheele's Green made vibrant through the use of Arsenic, they used lead paint in their houses and on baby toys, they used gas for light and heat that burned down their homes, they installed electric lighting resulting in electrocution, they invented baby bottles but not sanitation, 60% of children of the working class died before the age of five. They drank their own sewage, out of the Thames and died of cholera by the thousands. The life expectancy of tradesmen was 25; for laborers: 22. If you were born poor, you died poor. There was no upward mobility.

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

Icarus George Santayana Flyby

The house was all-electric and on the house from Farrell-Argast Electric distributors. I worked as a tradesman, my wife as a teacher. We are in our early 70s, own our own home and receive monthly social benefits and pensions from our own savings. But not everyone does.

Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon in 1969, in May 1970 Jean and Charlie moved to Canada. I was 18. We were in Life Magazine. Famous for 15 minutes. By the time we moved to Canada, Jean who had given birth to 10 children and had 4 miscarriages, was a fall down at noon drunk. She passed at 86. I was amazed that she had lasted that long.

I had grown up in pastoral farmland, had had an abusive Catholic/Jesuit education, had gone to school at Wayne State in Detroit the burned-out heart of the Race Riots, I had marched in Washington against the war. All my heroes had been assassinated.

Malcom Gladwell talks about the disadvantages of advantages. I think that he has a point, but, again that's a subject for theTotalPane.ca

14 Village Drive and Our Lady of Mount Carmel and as the crow flies to Fergies Pond about a mile away. - google maps 2021

The Frank and Margaret Argast Estate. Margaret was a Daughter of the American Revolution with deep roots in the American experiment. Frank had a ride-on lawn mower with tires out of a Batman Movie. Frank retired with a large estate, a place in palm springs and a large stock portfolio leaving an inheritance that allowed Jean to prosper later. Charlie passed in 1981, his parents in their late 90's.

Kate, Mary, John
Charlie, Paul

da "big kids"

Icarus Flyby and Jiminy Slithers