In my senior year of high school my family moved to Tucson, Arizona for one year. I had had eczema since I was two months old, and we all agreed to try hot, dry weather for me. My sister was a sophomore, and she agreed to the adventure.
We rented a small two bedroom furnished house at 2210 E. Copper. The backyard was enclosed with a stucco wall and in the far left-hand corner was a huge saguaro cactus and a big prickly pear cactus. What a change from Danville, Illinois where we had ten acres, hundreds of trees by a lake! This Tucson house had a picnic table in the back yard and I often would sleep on it in a sleeping bag under the stars. I had never seen a sky so vast and clear and it was magical to sleep under it.
Tucson Senior High had an orchestra and I carried my violin back and forth every day to rehearsals. After a while, the conductor asked me if I would like to play a school-owned viola. I liked the idea of not lugging my violin around and started playing in the viola section. I was amazed at how much more music I heard because I wasn’t playing the melody. From then on, I always preferred playing the viola if I was in a quartet or orchestra. I never really did learn to read the alto clef, though. I used the violinist trick of fingering two notes down and one string over. It is not fool proof, but it usually works in a group where you can hear the correct harmony.
Another event I remember while I lived in that house was the morning I put an egg on to boil. I went back to study and never put a timer on. About thirty minutes later I heard a loud sound like a shotgun coming from the kitchen. Immediately, I remembered my egg! I ran into the kitchen, grabbed the red hot pan off the stove and looked up at the ceiling and walls. Hardboiled egg everywhere! What a mess! How could one little egg explode into such a huge area? My mother said I could clean it up after school. It took me a couple of hours, and still for days our family found little pieces of egg I had missed. I remember that egg more than any egg I never ate!!!
My mother was a League of Women Voter and she joined the Tucson group. They were studying water and water rights. She became very knowledgeable about the western water problems. She also became very interested in Native Americans, their lives and their crafts. My dad took graduate classes at the University of Arizona. He was always the student, and never tired of learning.
Danville High School and Tucson High School both listed me as graduates that year and to this day I receive reunion information from them both. My skin got better and it turned out I returned to Tucson for my freshman year of college at the University of Arizona the next fall. All in all it was a very fulfilling year for us all.