Pittsburgh was different from San Diego—no black shades on the windows, no blackouts after ten o’clock, no air raid drills, and no dog tags. But it was baseball season again, in a different city and with a different team—the Pittsburgh Pirates.
My dad got us settled into a house in a quiet neighborhood and left the next day on a two-week road trip. Our family at that time consisted of Mama and Daddy, my sister, Hillene, age two, and me, Linda, age six.
It was a Sunday morning and my mother needed her morning newspaper. Hillene was asleep, so Mama couldn’t leave, but she saw a drugstore on the corner about eight houses down. She decided to send me. After all, I was six going on seven.
She stood on the porch and watched as I walked down the sidewalk, a quarter in my hand. The clerk gave me change, and I left with a newspaper under one arm and a nickel and two pennies in the other hand.
I got back outside and started down the street, but I didn’t see my mother anywhere. All the houses looked alike, with tall sets of steps leading to porches. I didn’t know which one was mine, and she wasn’t where she said she’d be.
I kept walking and looking, getting farther away, but she wasn’t anywhere. The money was making my hand sweat, and the paper was getting hard to hold on to. I looked down the sidewalk and saw a woman walking toward me. She wore a hat and gloves and held a Bible. I had been told repeatedly not to talk to strangers, but being from the Bible Belt I knew people on their way to church were probably okay to approach.
She took my hand and we started back the way I had come. We reached the drug store and went inside. Then I saw the other door. I had gone in one door and out the other, and was headed in the opposite direction of our house.
The lady and I left through the other door and saw a crowd of people down the street in front of our house, and my mother and a policeman running toward us. I got a big hug from Mama and a lecture from the policeman about talking to strangers. However, I knew someone was looking out for me.
About a week later my mother was sweeping the front porch and noticed a small crowd of people across the street talking and pointing to our roof. She went upstairs to see what was going on. The window was open to let in the breeze, and my curious younger sibling, two-year-old Hillene, sat on the porch surveying the world below.
Thus the Hebert girls invaded Pittsburgh, but we survived and enjoyed our summer. Mama met all the neighbors through my little adventure. I had several playmates, and we spent our days sliding down cellar doors, climbing trees, and riding our tricycles down the high porch steps (we only did that once.)
Hillene got a few more licks in, like the time she poured a whole container of RATIONED coffee (the war was still going on) all over the kitchen floor. Two people from south Louisiana who can’t have their morning coffee? Not a good thing.
So Daddy hung up his cleats and said goodbye to baseball, and we went back to Lake Charles to the house on Foster Street. I went into the second grade at Fourth Ward School. We missed our friends in Pittsburgh, but it was good to be home.