My brothers and I have different memories of our parents and our upbringing, due to the fact that I’m 4 years older than Darryl and 8 years older than Malcolm. They have no recollection of all the vehicles my parents owned before they bought their first Mercedes, or of all the places we lived while dad was finishing his PhD in Medieval German language and history. They don’t remember the virtual ban on popular music in our home or the constant sound of classical music, from Bach to Beethoven coming from our record player. They don’t recall living in the deep south in 1963 or in Lawrence, Kansas before “The Wizard of Oz,” was broadcast on TV, in living color. No, they don’t remember any of this. Their memory is of dad always driving a Mercedes. My memory is of dad always driving foreign cars, from a Renault to a series of VW’s, including a VW bus that he drove from Tuskegee to Teotihuacan, Mexico on our way to California, on one of our annual trips to grandma’s house. I was 9 years old before the first Mercedes was purchased and became standard fare for the Crosby family.
When we held a recent event here in Kent, to launch The Crosby Archives this “generation gap” became apparent. My choice of theme songs for the event included “Papa Was a Rolling Stone”, not because our daddy left us destitute, but because I remember moving, at least, every four years, until we moved to Kent. The song was also significant to me, because of the day of our event, “it was the 3rd of September, a day I’ll always remember, . . . ” because that was the day we inurned my father’s ashes beneath the tallest tree in the yard, which he planted over 30 years ago.
As it turned out Kent was the place we lived the longest. It wouldn’t have been my choice. I wanted to live in a city, with a lot of Black people. To my chagrin that was not to be the case. We did move to Seattle for a few years, where I moved into my first apartment, as the rest of the family returned to Kent. It would be years later before I was able to rekindle my own wanderlust, based on my childhood. When I moved to Southern California I not only got to live in Black neighborhoods, like South Central L.A. and Compton; I also got to live in neighborhoods among people from many other parts of the world, particularly south of the border.
All that to say, my early years, from birth to high school graduation normalized the idea of constantly moving from place to place. I don’t know how dad looked at all that moving. Maybe for him it was just one “long strange trip,” but for me it was business as usual. So, inurning dad’s ashes here at the Crosby Homestead was a big deal, because it speaks to the idea that dad finally found somewhere he wanted to be for the rest of his life and so it is that we’ve placed some of his ashes here, beneath the soil of Kent, Ohio where dad’s roaming days came to an end.