Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Book of Me Prompt #5...Your Childhood Home

[Editor's Note: GeneaBloggers is participating in The Book of Me, Written By You project created by Julie Goucher of the Anglers Rest blog. The concept: a series of blogging and writing prompts that help family historians capture their own memories and write about themselves. Click here for more information.]

The prompt for week 5 is Your Childhood Home

When did you leave home?
Where was it?
Where did you move to?
Was it rented or owned? – with parents/Grandparents
Was it inherited
What was it like – describe it – each room.
Were there a favourite room?
Is there anything you particularly remember from the house?
The road & area

Geez!  You are gonna need a nice warm drink, a snack and a blanket to curl up in to meander down this winding path of my childhood, so come on along with me and sit a spell...

This is the house that my parents purchased in 1950 just before their marriage and it is where they were living when I was born.  It was a fixer upper when they purchased it.
Looking at the front of the house from the pond area.

Looking across the field to our farm from the neighbors.
I do not remember anything about this farm, but here is a picture of my brother, Tom’s, 7th birthday.  
Terry is on the left holding me and Tom is on the right.  I was about 3 1/2 months old.  

In the background we can get a glimpse of the kitchen cabinets and the refrigerator.  The table is the same table that moved to the new house a bit later and would be the table that mom and dad would have throughout my childhood and well after I left home.

Here are my brothers in the living room of the house which was paneled in heart pine.  I love heart pine though I know that many people hate it and remove it or paint it, I just love the look!

Here was the house all made up for Christmas.  I think that TV moved with us...

The house had a pond with a diving board that my brothers and dad used and where my mother tells I would gaze from the door saying “Watie, there’s the watie.”

The story goes that one day mom thought dad was watching me and dad wasn’t.  The next thing they knew, their daughter, then 18 months old or younger (since we moved when I was about 18 months old) toddled down to the “watie” and jumped in whereupon big brother Tom jumped into the water and drug me out and apparently it didn’t stop me from wanting to make further attempts to hit the water as I have always LOVED the water and my mom has always been petrified of the water.

The other interesting thing about this farm was the barn which is a bit different than most barns in that it is white and the first story is made from cinder blocks.  My dad raised some peeps in that barn for a time.  Not sure what else it was used for.  The loft was the scene of my two brothers jumping off into the baby carriage which they destroyed before it could be used with me.  Mom still gets a cross look about that incident!  LOL

In later years when visiting my grandmothers, we would drive by the farm and found that at some point the upper part of the barn was dismantled and it became a one story barn or garage.  Mom and Dad were sorry to see that as I recall.  I couldn’t find the place on GoogleEarth because I have no idea how to get to the property.  Today I called my brother who talked me through how to find the farm and I was able to find it on Google Earth!  This is what it looks like today.
The arrow marks the spot.


And here is what it looks like today.  Not really a lot of difference!

When I was about 18 months old the dad's company moved mom and dad from  PA to MO. 

Mom and dad found a house about 20 miles west of St. Charles in the small town of O’Fallon, MO and this is the house as it looks today. 

I know that there are photos of the house as I was growing up, but I couldn’t put my fingers on them right now.  It looks very much the same with the exception of the front door which has been replaced.  Even the shutters appear to be the ones that dad made, though they are white right now.  They were always aqua colored with a stenciled “S” which you will see in pictures later in this prompt.

The house was a model home for the subdivision and was about 1100 sq ft on the main level with 3 bedrooms and 1 ½ baths.  Dad and mom paid around $19,000 for the house—the a/c was added at their request at the cost of $1,000.  They were used to the Pocono mountains of PA where it was moist but didn’t get very hot.  The day that they arrived at the airport in St. Louis, the temp was 103 degrees which was quite a change for them!  Poor mom!  It must have been awful!  She said it hit you like a ton of bricks and was hard to breathe!  A/C was definitely needed!

The yard was bare when they moved and dad went down to the river and brought back some river maple seedlings to plant in the back yard.  Eventually those trees had babies and the one you can see to the right of the driveway is one of the babies from those.

Much later dad added that drive to the right of the house where he parked the truck and camper.  

They also had a big ceiling fan installed in the hallway.  The switch was on the wall in the hall just outside of mom and dad’s bedroom.  When it was stuffy in the house but nice outside, we would open the windows and dad would turn on the fan and in short order it was nice in the house with a nice breeze coming in over us.  What a wonderful invention!  I am sure it saved a lot in electric bills!

Dad and the builder of the subdivision—who lived one street over in the subdivision—became good friends and fishing buddies.

The house had oak flooring in the living room that also ran down the hallway and included each of the three bedrooms. 

That stuff was a pain! 

In those days there weren’t cool easy care finishes for wood floors so they had to be buffed and once a year at least you had to wax them on your hands and knees with paste wax and some fine steel wool.  It was quite a job keeping up with those floors.  I can say that when the floors were buffed up, it was a lot of fun to take a run and slide down the hall in socks though!   

The living room was always painted beige.  Mom had picked out a sofa and rocker and regular chair that matched.  The sofa could become a bed.  You lifted the seat making it jack knife and then it would lay out into a full sized bed.  A full sized bed was in between a twin and a queen.  It was shorter and narrower than a queen but bigger than a twin and could accommodate two people—if they weren’t large or if they at least liked each other a lot! 

Mom LOVED that set which had maple arms and legs and was upholstered in a fabric that was black with small pink roses.  It would be rare to see the upholstery as she kept a furniture cover on it so as not to get the upholstery dirty and wear it out. 

The throw that I recall the most was a kind of woven rust and brown with fringe around the edges and had a foam backing that was supposed to keep it from sliding off of the couch.  I just remember that you had to constantly smooth it down and it was a pain.  Both of the chairs had the same type throws on them as well.   Dad and mom still have that set today, though it has been recovered.

The end tables and coffee table were also made of maple and had been my mom-mom’s (mom’s mom).  She had always loved those and also still has them.  I know there are pictures that include them, but I can't find them at the moment.  I am sure they will pop up later as we go through the prompts.

There was a drop leaf cherry dining table in front of the picture window with a lamp in the middle.  The lamp could be turned on via a switch just inside of the front door.  This is also where the table top aluminum Christmas tree resided during December. 

The table had a drawer in it which was filled with tv tubes.  When the tv would stop working, we would unplug it (I put that part in to make it seem as if I was responsible, but to be honest, I didn't always unplug it!  Shhhhhh...) and move it out and search for a tube that was blackened.  Then, we would pull the bad tube out and search the drawer for a match, put it in the tv and turn it back on and watch the rest of the show.  Depending on the show, we could be pretty fast!  Sometimes it took a couple of tries to get the correct tube too.

The TV was black and white and sat on the wall just inside of the door.  It was a pretty good size cabinet with legs.  We got 4 channels.  ABC, NBC, CBS and later in the 70’s a UHF channel 11 which took changing a dial to UHF from the typical VHF and then the other dial had to be turned to channel 11.  Oh and the rabbit --ears then had to be adjusted to bring in the channel but they had to be not just the two rabbit ears but also a loop to bring in the UHF.  We later got a roof antenna which made the whole rabbit ears a thing of the past.

Sometime in the mid 70’s I think it was, we got a color TV—though the color was nothing to write home about by today’s standards it was great!  And the remote control was whichever of the kids dad or mom asked to turn the channel.  J

Dad brought home two recliners.  They were naugahyde.   One was black and one was brown.  Dad traveled a lot with work but when dad wasn’t traveling and got home, he would take the paper and recline in the black recliner next to the front door to read until dinner.  After dinner he was usually out the door to help someone or work on something.

The drapes came out from Pennsylvania.  Everything in the house either came out from Pennsylvania or was after Pennsylvania.  That was the family way of keeping time.  It really still is.  You will hear conversations like, “when did you get those?” “Oh they came out from Pennsylvania”  “Oh” and that was nuff said.

They were light with a gold design in them along with some greenish color and made of fiberglass cloth.  I must say that those things wore like iron.  Finally in the 70’s mom had to have her gall bladder removed so my brother and his wife went to visit mom in the hospital.  In those days it wasn’t just a band aid proceedure, it was a huge incision and a good long hospital stay. 

They left their Labrador Retriever at the house and somehow the dog, a pup really, ended up jumping up on mom’s coffee table and grabbing the curtains which were ripped to shreds by the time anyone came back.
By the time mom got out of the hospital, there were new curtains that were a light background with brown and rust design and new carpet!  Welcome home mom!  J

It was with relief that we finally got carpet.   Shag carpet in brown and rust.  Oh so up to date! 
Now we all want the wood floors back!   But not back then!

Dad and I made sure the floors had just been waxed and used the big buffer that we borrowed from the church to buff them when the carpet was put over them so they were in very good shape when I am sure the carpet was removed in September of 1999 when mom and dad eventually sold the house.

The main bathroom had linoleum on the floor that looked like chips with sparkles in a really weird green color that matched the really weird green basin, tub and toilet.  Not sure what to call that color except it wasn’t aqua and wasn’t green.  It was somewhere between and didn’t match anything that you could buy in the store.  The tile on the walls went a little over half way up and was gray with a border tile of the weird green.  The wall above the tiles was painted white.

The half bath had white fixtures and the tile was white with gold glittery speckle and a white linoleum floor that ran out and into the kitchen. It was that same chip looking stuff with sparkles and really wasn’t bad.  It lasted through us kids running in and out for decades so it was sturdy stuff!  The walls above the tile were painted white.   

The woodwork in the house was what mom called “pickled”.  It was maple that was rubbed with a coat of light stain that allowed the wood to show through but made it really light and then was varnished.  It isn’t as pronounced as whitewash but makes the wood quite light.  Mom just LOVED her pickled wood doors and trim!

The walls were drywall which was painted with a special kind of paint that had sand added to it and then was applied in swirls creating a design on the walls and ceilings.  I can truly say that I HATED those walls because when you touched them, you left skin and wore scrapes.  I’m not sure who thought that was a good idea, but I can assure you it was NOT!  There is a lot of me left in that house!  Literally!

Here is a floor plan of the upstairs.  I found it in the tax records drawn by the tax assessor so the dimensions are as they measured.  I added the inside rooms.  It undoubtedly isn’t to scale but you get the picture.  Mom always loved having an eat in kitchen and a half bath with a door that was accessible from outside so that dad and kids could run in and use the toilet without tracking all through the house.  

There was a built in pantry in the kitchen as was the style then.  There was also a built in oven and built in cook top.  There was no dishwasher.  Ack!  Yes, the dishes were washed by hand.  Or by kid.  ;-)  I do recall standing on a chair so that I could reach the sink to do the dishes.

It was here that I learned to cook, bake and do all manner of making food.  It was here that I also made my brother’s wedding cake and THAT is a story unto itself!  It was my first wedding cake and I had never had a class in cake decorating.

I also learned how to prepare and can food in this kitchen.  This is also where my mom was preparing pumpkins for canning or possibly freezing and she called my name to come and help her.  She had been using my dad’s very sharp fish fillet knife and it slipped and sliced her hand badly.  I think I turned white and threw up!  Poor mom!  I was not much help.

I mentioned that dad’s company sent him out a lot.  He would come in the kitchen door with all kinds of stuff when he returned!  Sometimes it was a set of plastic wings from the airplane or the salt and pepper shakers from his meal on the plane—yeah!  They had salt and pepper shakers!  Can you believe????  Those were the days when you wore a suit to fly and flying was a special occasion! 

One time he brought back roses for mom from San Francisco and some sour dough bread!  Another time it was king crab from Alaska and another time it was jumbo shrimp.  I am not sure where they were from but I do remember having to devein them!  Gross!!!!  Oh and by the way, I am allergic to shrimp it turns out.  I throw up…

There was the time that he brought home raw sugar from Africa and the soy pecans (what we now know as TVP) that a company had just begun experimenting with.  There was dextrose and bulk cake mix and when he got to go to Pennsylvania he would bring back Tuzzi’s pizza!!!!  Happy times!   J

It looked a lot like this...
It was also here that my dad gave me a book bag that he had found at Goodwill.  It was an ugly brown color with sharp corners and hard sides and nearly as big as me in kindergarten but dad spray painted it red.  I was quite proud of my briefcase after that.

One night I walked into the kitchen and there was my briefcase on the floor with something brown on it and dad kneeling beside it with a towel.  I thought that someone had dropped food or something on it and ran over ready to have a fit!  Dad removed the towel and there was a HORSE!!!!  He had gotten a transfer of a horse and applied it to my brief case.  I LOVED horses!  I was all about horses.  Horses, horses, horses!  The transfer was this picture of a horse’s head on a plastic type of film.  You put it in water and soaked it which lifted the film from the backing which allowed it to be applied to whatever you chose.  I was in ecstasy!  I NEVER allowed it out of my sight after that!

With 3 kids and paying off a 30 year mortgage in 8 years on one salary because they knew how debt could affect families with each coming from a family that had lost much during the depression, there wasn’t a lot of extra money to buy new things, but it really brought out the inventiveness in everyone in the family!  We never felt deprived though…or maybe we did but got over it!

There is the story of when I was little and wanted an ice cream cone.  They cost 5 cents and dad and mom didn’t have it.  Apparently I was heart-broken and cried and pitched a fit.  I don’t remember it but everyone else in the family does!  Guess it didn’t hurt me to be deprived of that ice cream cone!

There were 3 little rounded shelves on each side of the sink attached to the upper cabinets where you could display knick knacks or whatever.  I know that mom had a rooster and hen on them and a little pair of Pepsi bottle salt and pepper shakers that we later filled with sand from our trip to Florida one year.  I don’t remember what other pieces she had on there when I was younger, but later she got some glasses that were like clear carnival glasses.  I want to say that they were free when you bought so much gas at one of the stations or that they came in laundry soap.  At any rate, they were pretty and always sat on those shelves—3 to a shelf—and we were NOT allowed to use them or drink from them because they were the “good” glasses for company.  Dad and mom still have them, but we get to use them now!  ;-)

The table was metal.  The top looked like gray marble with little white flowers that made a pattern in the middle with a chrome piece that went around the outside.  It had a leaf that was self storing that hung under the table.  It hung on a wide metal hook like piece attached to the table with another one attached to the leaf so that they could nest in each other.  We could sit at the table and make the leaf go up and down during dinner and make my mom crazy!   I always thought that they bought that set when they moved out from Pennsylvania, but I saw it in the picture of my brother’s birthday above, so it must have come out from Pennsylvania.

There was a cabinet over the oven with a little tin cup where mom would keep my lunch money for school.  It took a while before I was able to reach that cabinet to get my own money, but mom would always open that door and get my money out and hand to me for school.  Otherwise, that cabinet held the “good” stuff.  Carnival ware bowls, sherbet glasses they had won pitching pennies at the fair in PA and were used when company came to hold scoops of ice cream, the good dinnerware (white melamine with little gold starbursts).
With the late 1970’s came a new appliance called a microwave.  Microwaves and melamine did NOT get along!  Much of the dishes that Dad and mom had did not get along with the new technology.

Enter another new technology—Corelle Ware.  You couldn’t break it. 

Mom spoke often of Corelle ware and how much she liked it.  This was after both of the boys were out of the house and married and I had a job.  One year for Christmas we all got together and got those dishes! 
 Mom got settings for 12 and ALL of the completer pieces.  They are white with a blue pattern around the rims.  She has the whole set and I mean everything available!  She still has them and they are used all of the time!

UH, by the way, they DO break!  They are not like china that will crack and chip and break.  Nope, when these babies are dropped just right so that they break, they explode—shattering into tiny slivers.  But that doesn’t happen often thank goodness!

The walls were always painted pale blue for as long as I could remember and there was a soffit above the cabinets.  Mom hung a clock above the cabinet door in the corner and set it 15 minutes ahead so that she could be on time when going places.  The trouble was that she knew it was 15 minutes ahead, so it didn’t really work.  I believe I remember one time when someone turned the clock to the correct time.  I have no idea who might have done THAT!  (rolling my eyes and trying to look innocent!)

The oven was right next to the door to the attached garage and when entering it was best to avoid touching the side of the oven as it could get quite hot when the oven was going. 

When we moved in the big garage door was manual to lift up and down but was really light as it is made out of fiberglass and not insulated.  It appears that the door is still the original garage door on the house now.  It had a string tied in the middle so that mom could reach up and pull the door down as she was too short to reach the actual door. 

That string was the catalyst when my brother, Tom, made a cage in the garage where he kept a lizard which had a nice big wooden box that he built with a nice sandy bottom.  He even built a little cave for it—which the lizard actually used.  The lizard had a pond in there too.  Tom also caught a snake and had it in some sort of container from which the snake escaped.  If there is anything that mom hates as bad or worse than water, it is snakes! 

The snake disappeared one day when mom had gone out.  As she came into the open garage door the string brushed her hair and she screamed bloody murder thinking it was the snake.  It was funny from my side of things—she didn’t think it was funny at all and told my brother to find that snake and kill it!  She was the very definition of madder than a wet hen.  I'm not sure how mad a wet hen is, but it must be really angry!  LOL

My brothers shared a double bed in bedroom 2 while I had a twin with a trundle in bedroom 3 which was all it would hold with a small dresser.  If you put the trundle bed out, there wasn’t room for the dresser except at the end of the bed and then it was hard to have the space to open the drawers to get clothes.  Thankfully, the trundle didn’t get put up much!  Just when company came or when my grandma was visiting and we got to share the room which was always fun!  When company came and there was nothing under my regular bed, we would crawl under and use it for a fort or a hideaway to play Barbies!  What fun!

Dad and mom’s bedroom was painted mint green.  Mom liked that color and for as long as I can remember that was the color of those walls.  There was a door to the hallway and one to the half bath from their bedroom and then a door from the half bath to the kitchen so you could make a giant circuit from the kitchen through the living room up the hallway through mom and dad’s room through the half bath and back out to the kitchen.  And we made that circuit a lot chasing each other until mom locked one of the doors in their bedroom.

The boy’s room was painted a kind of salmon color one time and then beige.

My bedroom was I think beige and then I hit the purple stage and wanted a really saturated purple color.  Mom compromised on a light lavender color and got me twin quilts for the beds that had purple and blue in them.  Mom and dad still use those—though I noticed that they have been patched, but they are still with mom and dad!

When my last brother left for college, I got to move into their larger bedroom and the full sized bed.  I got a deep purple crushed velvet bedspread and made gold crushed velvet pillows.  Yep!  Awesome!

By the time I entered high school the colors were all the burnt orange with brown and golden yellow.  I bought sheets called Malibu Sunset and made curtains for my bedroom to match the sheets and comforter that I got for the bed.  J

It turns out that you really CAN find anything on line!  These are definitely like the sheets I had in high school!
Behold!  Malibu Sunset!
They looked like a sunset and of course, the walls were beige so it worked.  I was in hog heaven with a larger closet and a larger room!  Yay for being the youngest! 

Boy did that room see some action!  Those were the stormy teen years of door slams and tears.  Yikes!

I made a ball out of clear plastic glasses and filled it with colored Christmas lights which I used as a light by the bed.  It was really colorful and pretty and looked like this:

When I inherited the room I also inherited the furniture which is a waterfall design from I believe it is around the 1940’s with big round mirrors.  Dad and mom had a set in their room and the “boys” had a set in their room.  They came out from Pennsylvania. 

Mom and dad still have those sets today, though I haven’t seen the bed headboards or footboards in decades.  Each of the sets had a chifferobe or a chiffonier with it as well—each being just a bit different.  Mom and dad used the chifferobe to their bedroom set, but the chiffonier to the boy’s set was always in the basement holding mom’s collection of fabric and zippers, buttons, elastic and such.  I think those pieces are soooooo cool!!!!

I don’t recall when, but dad built a patio just off of the garage.  It was framed in wood with steel poles bolted into the cement that dad mixed and poured himself—or with the help of the boys more likely.  There was corrugated plastic on top to keep the weather out but let light in.  There were many picnics and cookouts on the picnic table that dad made out there!   Later dad enclosed that patio and moved his workshop out there.  Apparently, it is still a room as you can see in this picture that I got from Google.  See that white box with a window on the left?

Dad had a large garden that eventually took up the whole back yard. 
You can see the covered patio in the background and glimpse the aqua shutters with the "S" on them.
He got a troy built tiller and went to town!  Mom and I canned and we had tomatoes and produce running out of our ears!  Dad was good at gardening!  You can see the garden and patio in this picture as well as the aqua colored shutters with an “S” at the windows.   Somewhere is a picture of me with one of the huge pumpkins but I can't find it right now.  It will turn up...

You can see the clothesline posts are still there but this is after mom finally got a dryer as the lines are not attached.  The berry bushes are to the left along the back of the yard and the posts with the ropes across are for the pole beans.  Dad was really good at getting the most out of his space and subscribed to Mother Earth News and did a new thing called square foot gardening as well.

He decided one year during the Carter administration when heating fuel went sky high to install solar panels for heat and to heat the water in the house as well.  He also bought and installed a wood burning stove in the basement that was vented into the house to help heat the basement and keep the floors upstairs warm.  I liked the wood burning stove and spent a lot of time warming by it as I was very cold blooded! 

Later there were gasoline lines due to the oil embargo and I had my first fender bender in one of those lines with the car that I had just been given for graduation.  It was a time of setting thermostats to 55 degrees in buildings and the speed limit changing to 55 and commuter parking lots.  People removed the gas lamps out in front of houses due to the rise in the cost of having the gas on 24 hours a day.

Dad also bought a piece of land with a lot of trees so that he would have a fuel supply for the wood burning stove.  I helped remove some giant and I do mean GIANT overgrown rose bushes from the property and helped move the wood as dad sawed the trees down as we listened to the music coming from Berry Park (Chuck Berry’s home) to which our property backed.  Chuck Berry had some wicked loud parties that went on and on back then.  Dad had thought he might build an earth shelter home on this property as it had an area that seemed like it would be a good site for one.  That never materialized as the embargo was lifted and by then we Americans had so conserved that we then had a glut of oil.

As it turns out, Dad sold that land a few decades too soon because now that land is worth a BUNCH of money!  Ah well.  The wood was a good thing!

Dad also put on a greenhouse so that he could start his own plants from seed.  This is me standing by the greenhouse.  You can also see the aqua shutters behind me along the back of the house again.  I know I could have just pointed it out in the earlier picture, but this is about ME after all, so why not add a picture of me...  ;-)

There was a basketball goal in front of the house that dad put in pretty quickly after we purchased the house and moved in because when he cemented the pole in, each of us kids put our handprint in the cement along with our names and mine was pretty small.  I noted that the goal is no longer there, but wonder if the cement piece is—probably not.  My brothers played a lot of basketball with neighborhood boys and were on the team at school.  I played HORSE and did okay—not as good as my brothers, but gave it a good try.  My earliest memory of that basketball goal was when dad had been hunting and hung his deer from the goal to take pictures.  It hurt my tiny heart to see Bambi hanging like that!

Dad was a good hunter, trapper, marksman and fisherman.  He could do anything and for sure our family would never have starved! 
He passed that along to my brothers as you can see in this picture back in Pennsylvania and they are also good hunters, marksmen and fishermen.

We all learned to use a bow and arrows and I learned to shoot the bb gun but never learned to shoot rifles or pistols.  I was a good shot with the bow though!  We had several.  Some were fiberglass and some wood.  There was a really LONG wooden bow! 

Dad also made us stilts for us.  They were made out of 2x2’s with pieces that looked like upside down corbels bolted to the sides for our feet.  The black set was lower to the ground for learning and the natural wood colored set was higher.  It took a long time before I could reach the higher ones, but I did master both sets even when I was small enough that I had to jump up on the higher set and if I lost my balance had to jump for my life!  Fun I tell ya!

The house faced the north so in winter the driveway was like a skating rink.  Though not completely flat, it was definitely skating worthy!  I enjoyed going out and “skating” in my boots.  It was through this experience that I learned to pay attention to which way the front of the house sat when purchasing later in life!

The road out front was a gravel base with some kind of oil or tar type substance sprayed on it.  I know this because on a regular basis the city would come through and spread this charcoal colored stone and then put the oil down on top which got on the cars until it was sufficiently worked down.  The cars would come in with little rocks stuck to them and that black tar splattered along the bottom. 
This also left gravel at the sides of the street as you can see in this picture of me and my husband and son when we were back for a visit in later years.

See?  By the mailbox post?  You can see the culvert under the driveway and leaves in the ditch and the street with gravel.  The gravel was an interesting obstacle to take care when riding bikes.  There were many times that I came in with gravel in my knees, elbows and sides due to sliding and falling in the loose gravel.
The ditches were just that.  Ditches.  Depressions that when it rained filled up with water that was just perfect for splashing!  I liked those!  I am sure that dad and the boys didn’t like those when they had to mow!  

Now the yards are flat and come out to a nice road with curbs.  Ah, modernization has crept in.  This is no longer a small town.

The basement was unfinished which in that part of the country means poured concrete floors and walls. 

The house had a beam that ran down the middle held up by steel posts.  Dad hung some heavy drapes which I later found out were portiers from my grandmother’s house and now reside in my brother’s Victorian house between the dining and living rooms.

These drapes divided the basement into an area where my mom had her washer and dryer and ironing board and her stashes of material and out of season clothing and an area that was a “family room” which mean that there was furniture and later a ping pong table.

Dad built a room where he set up a fully functioning dark room with water and everything.  He could take photos in black and white, go into the darkroom and process the film, use the enlarger to make prints and process them finishing on the dryer that had a huge drum around which the photos rotated as they dried.  He and my brothers took wedding pictures and ball pictures and all kinds of pictures.  It never occurred to me that having a fully functioning darkroom was unusual!  I was his model several times!  Just look!

Okay, I wasn't modeling for him in this one but I had to throw it in because I have a great niece that looks just like this!
Okay!  I am the youngest and only girl!  I enjoyed mugging for the camera!  Sue me!

Next to the Dark Room was dad’s work shop.  He had a radial arm saw, band saw, jig saw, table saw, table sander, wood lathe a big workbench and other assorted tools.  There were stacks of wood and his “gun cabinet” as well.  Turns out his “gun cabinet” was a bow front secretary.  I cannot believe that piece sat down there with wood flying, arrows and bb’s (hey!  We had to have someplace to practice, right????) and guns propped in it and the rounded glass NEVER got broken!  Amazing really!  It now resides in their living room.

Dad took some glass jars and attached the lids to the exposed joists that held the upstairs floor up and put his screws and nails in.  It was a great idea!  You could just look and see what you needed, unscrew the jar, get your nuts and bolts out and put them back up.  It kept them out of the way and used otherwise unused space.

One thing…as it turned out, the floor deflection from walking upstairs caused the jars to eventually unscrew and we would all of a sudden hear a crash and find a jar had fallen to the cement floor leaving glass and hardware all over.  Hmmmm…

It never occurred to me to think it was unusual for someone to have their work shop with all of the sawdust and stuff in the basement of the house either.

The basement had a door that walked out and up a flight of cement steps outside.  Here I am standing by the railing to those steps.  I would later use that railing as a monkey bar to do flips and twirl around.  

At the bottom of the steps was a drain so that when it rained the water would go down the drain and not fill up the area and cause water to come in around the door.  Good idea…except…if you didn’t get the grass and leaves that had blown down there out before it started to rain. 

I recall a few times when the water would be up the door and coming into the basement by mom’s washer.  There was a drain there too, but it was kinda dicey when there was that much water against the door.  It was then that my oldest brother was sent out to wade into the water and move the debris off of the drain to allow the water level to go down.  I am supposing that he was sent down there because it was his job to keep the debris out in the first place so he had to remedy the problem that occurred because he didn’t do what he was supposed to do.

Dad and mom were good about teaching lessons that way.  You don’t do what you are supposed to do, you reap the consequences and remedy the problem.

As I said, the basement was unfinished.  Some people would finish off the basement but our basement had a crack which allowed water to come in and rush across the floor in search of the drain over by mom’s washer.  There were times when there were inches of water in the basement.

Dad finally used a sledgehammer and chiseled out all the way around the wall, put in a pipe that ran to the drain with a saddle on it to alleviate the pressure and allow water to go into the drain and keep the basement dry.  He then filled the cavity with gravel and covered it with cement and filled and covered the cracks in the wall.  It did work and we were able to put down some carpet and have a cozier floor.   Later, when I was a Realtor, I recall the broker saying that there are two kinds of basements:  The kind that leak and the kind that will leak.  Pretty much truth!

Dad also put up some dark walnut paneling (that awesome 70’s fix all) and he and I stained the open floor joists dark brown which made it recede and not be so noticeable.

It was in the family room that mom kept her sewing machine.  First it was her Singer Featherweight which I really loved and still do!  I would set it up at the end of the ping pong table and sew beginning with Barbie clothes.  I can tell you, if you can sew Barbie clothes, you can sew ANYTHING!!!!  

My Barbie’s were the best dressed ladies in my couture gowns and suits made from material from old garments in the “rag barrel.” 

I later made many of my dresses and pant suits, winning an award for a 4 piece suit that I had sewn in high school—jacket, lined vest, wrap around skirt and pants.  

I made a lot of my clothes from sheets because you get a lot of wide fabric for little money.  

One of them was a long dress that I made to wear to a Valentine’s banquet at church.  When my date found out that it was made from a sheet, he laughed and said he wasn’t sure if he should take me dressed in a sheet!  LOL

I made my prom dress for my Junior prom from material that I got on sale for 25 cents per yard 
and this dark green velvet and lace gown which I wore for my senior high photos.  My mom-mom (mom’s mom) bought the material for me to make the dress.  The pin in my Senior picture belonged to my mom-mom also which she loaned to me just for that photo. 

I had a little cameo that I found at the Five and Dime when I wore it to the Snowball Dance later my Senior year which I attended because I was the Reporter and Historian for the National Honor Society.

I think I sewed almost all of the clothes that I made on that little featherweight.  Mom got a fancy schmancy Kenmore machine at some point that had a bunch of cams that would make fancy designs and edgings but I liked the Featherweight the best.  I so remember sitting at the end of the ping pong table sewing as the ping pong table bounced along with the sewing machine.  BTW, ping pong tables are the BEST place to cut out material as they have a huge space to lay out the fabric!

You might notice the dotted line in the family room.  My brother Tom returned home for a while between college and when he got married.  He used some long metal venetian blinds that dad had brought home when they were throwing them out at work to hang from the ceiling to make a bedroom in the basement.  I was in his old room by that time and he undoubtedly preferred his privacy and space in the basement anyway.   He had the neatest sailboat model that he had built.  It was on a wooden stand that he had made and painted red.  He had named the sailboat Sloopy which was painted on a plaque on the front of the wooden holder.

We had a lot of people in the house from time to time when the cousins came to visit or missionaries or evangelists or whoever needed a place to stay. 

When I was little there was a singing duet called the Good Twins.  One of them was wearing a pair of shorts with knee high socks which I found extremely funny.  He grabbed a water pistol and chased me around and around the staircase in the basement with me laughing hysterically the whole time!  I ended up pretty drenched…hey!  It was an unfinished basement!  You could do that kind of stuff…

One time I think there were something like 11 people staying at the house.  By that time we also had a 10 ½ ft. truck camper so some of us stayed in the camper, others in the basement and the adults in the bedrooms.  It was fun as kids! 

With only one shower in the house, dad rigged up a shower over the floor drain in the laundry area by using the hoses from mom’s washer and a Y connection to which he put a shower head attached to the joist above.  He even rigged a holder for the soap and shampoo!  He then hung black plastic in a circular shape like an @ with the shower head in the middle and a folding chair in the outer area of the plastic shielded “room” as a dry space to put your clothes.  You turned on the water behind the washer and when it was at the temp you wanted, you ran in and put your clothes on the chair and took your shower, came out to the chair, dried inside of the dry part of the plastic enclosure and then shut the water off behind the washer.  It was quite a good system and I had a ball using that shower!  I thought it was the bomb!  He left it up for quite a while after the company left and us kids used it.  It was nice having a second shower.

Dad could come up with solutions and rig anything!  He had the skills and could work it out in his mind and then just do it.  He passed that along to us kids.  My brother Tom is especially clever that way!

We had a regular neighborhood lot which the tax records state is Lot Size: 96X100X96X89 or just under ¼ acre and when we moved in there were buried propane tanks which had a fill area that looked like this.  
Every yard had one and it made a great home base for playing ball or safe base for hide and seek.

One day, natural gas lines were run and we got a gas meter, all of the appliances were retrofitted to use natural gas instead of propane—the stove, furnace and hot water heater—and the green fill cover disappeared from the yard.  I don’t know if the tank was dug up or if it is still down there.  I do remember the guy from the gas company testing the lines for leaks with some water and Joy dishwashing liquid that he got from mom and a paint brush.  He showed me how he was looking for bubbles which would indicate a leak which wouldn’t be good.  I was pretty small at the time.

The house to the west was a split level.  I remember a family with several kids living there and then a pilot and his stewardess wife.  They looked like Ken and Barbie—for real!  They had a son my age and a younger daughter.  The pilot taught my oldest brother, Terry, to fly airplanes and he received his pilot’s license while in high school.

Later, that couple was divorced and a live-in German au pair came to stay.   They called her tante.  We all called her tante.  After they moved out a young couple moved in.  
The husband had a little red car that he adored!  He would get it out and wash it by hand and polish it and keep it spic and span and shine the chrome wheels til they gleamed!  He and his lovely wife would go out for a spin.  It was a flashy little thing.  I was told it was a Jaguar.  Whatever that was.  He was sure proud of it though.  I was unimpressed at the story!

He also gave me my first job.  He was a manager for a clothing manufacturer and would bring me inventory sheets from the stores to combine into a form that allowed them to ship out more inventory.  He would bring the work to me in a brief case which I could then do at home and put in his car when I finished at night so he had it the next morning.  It was good work and I had a paycheck!  Yay!

They eventually had a little boy and girl and moved out after I graduated from high school.

Across the street were the Ell’s.  Ray was our milk man.  He worked for Sealtest dairy he delivered our milk to an insulated milk box on the front porch. 
The original milk truck looked a lot like this toy model.
His original truck was a big panel truck that had a plywood wall behind the driver behind which he would have blocks of ice and the milk and other products.

Later he got one that looked more like this one (but of course in better shape) with the big red Sealtest logo on the top part that is white in this photo.  The new one was actually refrigerated.  It was really handy having the milkman across the street.  If you ran out of any dairy during the holidays or at night, it was right across the street!

They had a daughter about my oldest brother’s age who had a Jart (yard dart) go through her foot one time when they were playing and she apparently didn’t move fast enough.  They also had a daughter just slightly older than me and a son about my age. 

After he got the new refrigerated truck, Ray parked the old truck in the grass next to the driveway.  We kids were allowed to have campouts in that truck and it was perfect!  I remember one night when us girls were “camping” in the truck and all of a sudden the truck started to rock and a big growling sounds and banging began.   Oh, it was Mo-Mo the monster!   It was actually Juanita’s stupid brother and his friends.  LOL  

That was the summer of Mo-Mo sightings and all of us kids were intrigued by yetis!

Next door to us on the east side were the Brittons.  They had a passel of kids.  Their daughter Stacey was about my age and we were friends.  It was from Stacey that I received a bunch of Barbies that they no longer wanted to add to my collection and from her that my oldest brother bought a purple bike with a silver sparkly banana seat for me!  Oh I was SO in love!!!!  Purple—and a banana seat! 
It looked a lot like this but was purple with a silver sparkly seat and had plastic streamers on the handles.  It was a beaut!

Later, my gym teacher bought that house and the records are still in her name.

Mr. Gallup lived next to the Ells across the street.  He had kids but they were older.  I didn’t really know him well but when his son was studying to be a teacher, he invited me over to teach and then take tests for his degree. 

Bitticks lived next to him and they had sons that were my brother’s ages and those guys would be up at our house playing ball or my brothers would be down there playing ball.  They still own that house too.

Next to them was my arch nemesis, Mona Moss!  Her mother didn’t speak English.  I am thinking she was perhaps Romanian or perhaps Russian.  It was the first time that I ever saw matryoshka or nesting dolls.  

At any rate Mona had an older sister about my youngest brother’s age and Mona was what would be called a “mean girl” today.  She had really long straight dark hair and wore huge hoop earrings one of which got knocked out one time when I turned quickly and she with her firey temper insisted that I put it back in. 

It creeped me out and I kept saying “does that hurt, does that hurt?”  She finally grabbed the earring and put it back in.  She was constantly trying to trip me or push me down.  She was the cause of several times that I ended up with those rocks from the road in my hands or knees.  And it was in front of her house that I had to stand to meet the school bus!  Oye!  She could be nice one minute and be knocking your block off the next.  I disliked her a LOT!

Across from her was Mrs. Magna.  I think when they purchased the house there was a Mr. Magna who died while I was still quite young.  She had at least one daughter about my youngest brother’s age and she was a school teacher.  Her house was distinguished because it had only a carport that was not enclosed where most of the houses had enclosed garages.  She drove an old 1940’s yellow car with the biggest trunk I had ever seen!  That was the only car I ever remember her driving. 

The next house was bought and sold several times and didn’t have kids that I knew or socialized with. And that brings us back to Brittons.

Bridgette Hill lived on the next street over and her mom allowed her to leave her street and visit other streets, so she was with us in the truck of the Mo-Mo incident as well.

I honestly spent more time with the boys than the girls in the neighborhood.  I was quite the tomboy so I was out playing baseball, basketball, hide and seek, cowboys and Indians, soldiers, riding and racing our bikes down the hill in front of the house and all manner of running around.  Try as she might, there was no way for mom to make me into a lady!  LOL

I lived in this house until I graduated from high school.   It's my understanding that just a few years ago there was a fire in what used to be my original room but the house was fixed up and is fine once again.
I had a small party and got some good loot.
The best gift was the 1969 Pontiac Tempest Custom S that my dad had purchased for $125 a year or so before and gave to me. 
This is not my actual car but mine was the same color and looked like this, though mine was a 4 door and mine didn't have the black stripes and chrome wheels but you get the idea...
I loved that car!  Wish I still owned it!  This was the car that I had the accident in the gasoline line.  Right after it was given to me!   Dad helped me find the parts from the junk yard and we put her back together.

 I had that one last summer when I worked at the factory with my dad and then I packed up my car and was off to college where I got my MRS degree in just ONE year and then my life got interesting!  J

You can see my dad's pickup in the background.  I learned to drive in that pickup!   

Dad felt that if you can drive a stick shift, you can't drive! 


  1. Wow! I feel like I could time travel back there and recognize all of it. Good post!