MarkIn Time – Chapter 1: Pink and Blue

One of my favorite bloggers is writing a memoir.

Her name is Kathryn, and if you haven’t checked out her blog, I urge you to do so. Reinventing The Event Horizon is chock full of amazing tales. Kathy’s childhood was, to put it mildly, not your typical Leave It To Beaver type of upbringing. Her father was a bookie for the Mafia, for starters. This alone makes for an interesting story, but there’s more. She spent time in a mental institution. Her partner, Sara, is an aid worker, and together they travel the globe providing assistance in disaster-plagued countries. And, she’s about the craftiest person I know, literally turning garbage into works of art. There are few blogs that offer up continued surprises, but hers is one of them…and to top it off, she’s a fabulous writer. I swear I’m not sharing the blog love just because Kathy bought (and raved over) my novel. Her story is one of a kind, and worth the attention!

She has also inspired me. Once upon a time, in another blogging dimension, I shared my life story. 31 posts covering 34 years (yeah, I was younger then). It was an ambitious undertaking, and sadly, I somehow lost all those posts when I pulled the plug on that blog. I’ve often thought I should do it again, especially now that I’ve added a whole  slew of new life experiences in the intervening years. It’s a tale I can tell gradually, whenever my muse is sitting quietly in the corner, unwilling to come out and play. My own life is much tamer than Kathy’s. My dad was never involved in organized crime (that I’m aware of, anyway). My dog never almost ended up on a dinner plate in Vietnam…hell, I’ve never even owned a dog or left the country, unless you count Canada and Mexico. And I certainly can’t turn an old, discarded coffee table into anything other than kindling. But maybe…just perhaps…my life is interesting enough to warrant at least a few comments.

So, without further ado…let’s do this thing!

Chapter 1: Pink and Blue

I associate the earliest years of my life with two colors: pink and blue.

Pink, because that’s the color of the hospital where I was born. Tripler Army Medical Center, a sprawling complex on a ridge overlooking Honolulu. Lt. General Robert C. Richardson Jr., Military Governor of the Territory of Hawaii during World War II, chose coral pink because of his fondness for the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Waikiki, a recreational site for military personnel during the war. It’s still pink to this day.

I was born in one of those rooms! (Image courtesy of Honolulu Advertiser)

Blue, because Oahu is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, which became my playground of sorts for many years. My dad was very fond of the beach, and we spent many weekends there. Living in Hawaii, it would be a crime not to!

Obviously, I remember nothing from my first year. I know that 1969 was filled with both turmoil and triumph; the Vietnam War raged on, man walked on the moon, and Woodstock brought three days of peace, love and music to upstate New York. I also know that my dad had a fondness for thick black Buddy Holly-style glasses and my mom had one of those bouffant-style hairdos so popular in the 60s. He joined the Air Force fresh out of high school in 1964 (which probably, ironically, saved him from the war), and met my mom in 1966, the year she graduated from nursing school. Her friend Janet was dating his brother Bob, and introduced the two. I am told they bonded over a bowling ball. Janet and Bob’s relationship didn’t last, but my parents’ did, and in September 1967 they married. They are one of those rare couples still together to this day, having recently celebrated their 44th wedding anniversary. Both were born and raised in Trenton, New Jersey, but my dad had a passion for travel and yearned to see the world. The military provided a perfect outlet for his wanderlust, and being stationed at Hickam AFB, Hawaii felt like paradise after those cold and snowy Northeast winters. I’m sure Oahu was a novelty to them then, but he ended up stationed there for three separate tours of duty. Hawaii is very much a part of my childhood.

Mom and dad sure were stylin'!

I was due on May 1st, but true to my impatient nature, couldn’t wait to get out and see the world, and so I arrived a few days early. 1:47 PM on Sunday, April 27, 1969. My dad missed my grand entrance because he was at home enjoying a hot shower while my mom gave birth. Hey, no judgment – times were different then! I won’t even mention the cigarette smoking that took place during, and after, the pregnancy.

Oops. I guess I just did.

Baby me.

Not that the nicotine affected my motor skills, as I was walking at nine months. Go, me! Although, dang it, I am only 5’8″. If the Surgeon General had been a little more vocal then, maybe I’d be a few inches taller! 1970 brought additional changes. My mom became pregnant again, and in September, my dad was transferred to McGuire AFB…in Trenton, New Jersey. It had to feel like a sort of homecoming for them. The following February my brother, Scott, was born. We were living in a house my grandfather, who owned a construction company, built for my folks. He was a wonderful, caring man, and my earliest childhood memories are from that period in my life. I can clearly remember, at the ripe young age of three or four, sitting on his lap and sharing a cup of cream of mushroom soup from his Thermos – a frequent lunch routine. By all accounts, life was pretty idyllic, and I imagine my mom would have been content settling down in that house – but it was not to be. In 1973, my dad received new orders.

We were headed back to paradise.


Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

16 thoughts on “MarkIn Time – Chapter 1: Pink and Blue

  1. Oh, cool, I’m so excited that you are doing this! And I really inspired you? That is just beyond cool. Don’t know that I’ve ever inspired anyone before. Thanks for plugging my blog, my friend!

    But what a great start. I love the notion of using colors to frame a life, or at least launch the telling of it. It will be fun to have someone writing a memoir along side me. I am thrilled–truly.

    Great start, to what I’m sure will be a great book, if “No Time for Kings” is any indication of how well you tell a story.



    1. Kathy – your blog is awesome and deserves attention!

      And honestly, you inspired me to share my life story here. Not sure that I’ll actually sit down and write a memoir, but I intend to at least tell the tale on the virtual pages of my blog. Thank you for that!


  2. Love this idea, Mark — it definitely gives us more insight into what makes you, well, you!

    The nicotine…that must have done it, right?


    Actually, most of us born in the late ’60s and early ’70s were raised on nicotine. And Tang. And CHiPs. Seriously, I think I spent the first 9 years of my life pining for Jon Baker (a.k.a. Larry Wilcox in real life). I was an early boy-crazy type…

    And your dad — could be my dad. Buddy Holly glasses and all.

    Fun post!


    1. LOL. I just asked Tara the other day if she likes Tang! And I was totally addicted to CHiPS. I’m surprised you were a Jon fan…most of the girls preferred Erik Estrada.

      I just liked the motorcycles.


      1. I think the fact that I preferred Jon to Ponch is a total reflection of my character. Always rootin’ for the underdog…

        I also liked Roy more than John Gage on Emergency (or Squad 51, as it was also called for a season).

        Seriously: I’m a fount of trivia about bad 70s TV…


  3. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this idea of sharing your life in chapters, Mark!

    I look forward to reading more, as you are inspired to do so.

    “I won’t even mention the cigarette smoking that took place during, and after, the pregnancy.”

    OMG…yes, can you believe that? I was born in 1955 and it was the same back then – women smoke AND drank during pregnancy and their children all came out perfectly healthy. Hell, I can remember watching an old Bette Davis film where she AND the doctor were smoking a cigarette in her hospital room the night before her BRAIN surgery – HA!

    LOVE the baby photo of you, Mark. How cute! And I have dozens of photos like the one of your mother and father in front of the Christmas tree.

    Ah….the good ol’ days!


  4. I love that you are doing this again. I remember reading the first series of posts, way back when. Its always fun to follow one’s journey, even if its not as exciting as Kathy’s. 😉


  5. I’m excited to learn more about you Mark, awesome idea for posts, and you’ve left us with a bit of a cliffhanger. Is it just me, or does Audrey look a lot like your mom?

    P.S. Your baby picture has trouble written all over it. LOL. Good luck, Tara!


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