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By Burnett James

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Extra info for Bix Biederbecke

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Mom was a restless gypsy at heart, never satisfied to stay in one place, full of dreams of bigger things. I would attend thirteen schools between the ages of five and eighteen, as I was bounced around from town to town, household to household, from Los Angeles to Kentucky to Northern California and back again, while Mom roamed, developing her lofty dreams. Along the way, I was taught to believe that our lifestyle was normal and never to question it or complain, even when I was left alone for hours, sometimes days at a time, or when I was passed without warning to yet another relative.

First my mother entered the room and knelt in front of me, looking concerned, and then my father came in. I wondered if they thought I’d fallen in the river or some such. “I got saved,” I whimpered. They weren’t mad at all. In fact, they both hugged me, were happy and supportive, which really surprised me. It was one of the few times that I can remember them agreeing on anything and the last cooperative effort they made on my behalf for many, many years. Mostly, they fought. Dad wanted to spend more time with us, and Mom did her best to drive him away from Camp Wig, back to his room behind the leather shop in Lexington.

The house was so lovely that it had its own name: Chanticleer. It was filled with Appalachian crafts such as hand-hooked rugs and Early American antiques and was surrounded by lawns and woods. I was enchanted by the new place and didn’t even mind starting second grade in a new school. I suppose I was mystified that Dad had suddenly disappeared without any explanation from Mom.

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