Saturday, December 3, 2016

Mom

This is my mom.


This is our house.  
The time is 1980 something and I'm not living there anymore.  
My brothers are still at home and obviously they have friends there, too.

The dress she has on she made herself.  
She was a great seamstress. 
We grew up back in the days when there were no cheap clothing stores.  
There was no Walmart, no Kmart, no Target.  
If you wanted ready made clothes, they had to be ordered from Sears or JC Penney's.  We did have a Penney's store in our town and I remember going there to buy knee high socks before school. We bought our shoes at the shoe store across the street.  
That was expensive.
Mom made her dresses and my dad's suits.  
(Double-knit was easy to work with.)
She made the clothes her toddlers wore.  
She made the dresses my sister and I wore.  
She made our pajamas and the boys shirts.
She didn't sew everything, blue jeans are easier bought than sewn, and sometimes we got 
hand-me-downs. but the majority of what we wore was hand made.  
I learned to sew by her side.  My first project was hemming the skirt of a new dress when I was about 7 years old.  But the time I was in junior high, I could read a pattern and sew for myself. I was in 4-H, but it was Mom who taught me.  

We didn't have a lot of money in those days.  
Raising four kids on a teacher's salary meant watching the money closely.  
Besides making our clothes, she raised a garden and canned and froze the produce and fed us well.  

She made baby doll clothes and when we got old enough to play with Barbie dolls, she made clothes for those dolls as well.  
Barbie doll clothes are expensive, so we didn't have very many 'store-bought' ones.  I found some of them the other day and took some photos.  There were more clothes, but played with items do wear out. 

These are store bought.

And these.


Pajamas, I'm sure there were pants to match the green top. 

Double knit, 2 outfits for Ken, 1 for Barbie.

Pans for Ken.


I loved that vest. Mom had leftover vinyl when she covered the top of the buffet to make a changing table for my little brothers.   

More shirts. 

These were dresses for Barbie. 

The cute little parka was from a store and the dress is my only attempt to make Barbie clothes. It was extremely frustrating and I have no idea how my mom managed to make all these things. 


Because of Mom's ability and willingness to make these clothes, we had plenty to play with.  

Over a year ago I posted photos of the Barbie doll house my dad made for us to play with.  
You can find it here.


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

This Old House




When my folks were married they lived in an apartment north of main street for a year.  Then, they moved into a trailer at Kloke's trailer court in the south west part of town, not far from the river.  I don't think that trailer court is there anymore.  There is a nice housing development near that area.  
My sister and I were born while they lived in the trailer, 
I have piece of a memory rolling around in my brain of me walking down to another trailer a few away in bright sunshine.  I remember walking up to the door and I don't remember any more. We lived in the trailer about three years so I wouldn't have been very old to be walking around by myself.  The mom of that house was a daughter to the Kloke's.    

There are plenty of photos taken when my sister and I were little, so I am choosing those for this post ones that mark where we lived.  I have no photo except vague ones in my mind of the outside of this trailer.  
This is the inside of the trailer, I am two, we are waiting for baby sister Kristen to arrive.  This little rocking chair still sits at my mother's house.  
The large rocking chair was the one mom used to rock all four of the kids.

My folks thought a sand box was a good way to entertain children.  We had a really large one at the Park street house. 

Here is photo of the outside of the trailer.  This was our milk box.  I remember getting milk deliveries at the Park St. house. 



We moved from the trailer to the apartment house on Railroad Street.  It was on a corner and I the first memory I have of that house is my sister and I tearing around on the side walks.  She on a little foot powered three-wheeler and me on a trike.  

I haven't found any photos of the outside of this house, the apartment house.  After we moved out it was in our family as a rental until 1982 when it burnt and had to be demolished.  I remember it being a pinky-orangy sort of color.  This is the back door.  It had a great enclosed porch in the front.

The kitchen in the apartment house was used for inside play on winter days.  Mom was extremely tolerant obviously.



These sort of tables are called retro now.  When we moved to the "new house", it was relegated to the "train room", where it held the hopeful template of a model railroad for many years, until it became just the junk room and held boxes and jars and who knows what all, and probably still does.  I haven't looked lately.

Helping?

In a previous post, I mentioned I had never seen a colored picture of our house before it was painted. This was the only picture I had ever seen that showed our house before it was sided with white aluminum siding.  

First Day of Kindergarten

I've been sorting old photos and I found one of my sister, and here is the color of the house. 
Dark Gray.


Obviously, my folks weren't against letting kids help. We didn't have a great deal of forced labor, but if we wanted to paint, they let us paint.  
That's Sharon's house across the way.  
We were 5 and 7.


I mentioned in a previous post that this house was gray with yellow trim and that Dad painted all but the highest part.  Here is proof, both of the trim and the high parts waiting to be painted.  


Mom was lucky to have a nice place to put a plastic pool without killing the grass.  That's Sendon's house as it was in 1971.


I loved this house, I still do.  It was built in the early 1900s and besides the hard wood floors it had 8" baseboards and wide window trim.  The trim had all been painted long before we moved there in 1969 and my folks carpeted it a couple years after we moved in.  I don't really remember no carpet down stairs but I remember the wood floors in the first bedroom we slept in.  I remember the foot shaped stickers we were let (?) stick on the floor.  
The upstairs had been made into an apartment complete with kitchen.  When we used it three rooms were bedrooms, and the "kitchen" was a play room, and we called it that for years.
I don't remember when they cupboards were white either.  I remember when mom painted them yellow, and again when she had someone wood grain them.  I also remember her using some sort of heating thing that would bubble up the laminate counter top so they could remove and replace it.

Kristen here is cutting up a banana for jello. She is four years old.


The south bay window looked toward the Hill's.  Our wood floors are still here in 1970.  We used that little table for everything.  


I wonder if anyone else remembers these basket chairs.  It was a perfect chair to curl up in with a book.



Tuesday, December 8, 2015

My Neighborhood--Take Two


In 2003 I walked around my neighborhood and took photos of the houses I remembered. 
The neighborhood had changed since I lived there.
More has changed now, when I am telling the story in 2015

I've completed a circuit around the west side of the neighborhood and now I'm walking east from our house up Park St. We did go up-town since we lived a couple blocks from the Elkhorn River.  Our neighborhood was flat unlike the hilly streets east of the railroad tracks. We walked up-town because we lived in the lowest part of town, a couple blocks from the Elkhorn River.  Our neighborhood was flat, unlike the hilly streets east of the railroad tracks. On the right lived the Dill's. She was another old lady that my friend Sharon and I would take a violet bouquet in the spring after we scavenged all the different colors of violets we could find. Besides the usual white and lavender ones, there were white ones with purple streaks in their heart, and sometimes we found some that were red-violet like the color in a 64-color crayon set, and a yellow one. Later, she went to the nursing home and I would talk to her when I was a Volunteen. (Like candy stripers, only in a nursing home instead of a hospital.) After that, a family with children moved in and we played with some of the older ones, but not much.  They were quite a bit younger than I was.  It's been remodeled and painted since then. 



On the left is my friend Sharon Kindschuh’s house.  We have been friends since 1969.  We were in the same grade in school, and walked to school together nearly every day except in kindergarten because I went in the morning and she went in the afternoon. In high school we were slightly separated by having different friends in school, and there were two buses to take in the morning.  In the evenings and summers we spent a lot of time together.  We played games in the summer on their front steps, rode our bikes together in the summer evenings for something to do.  Over the years we played in the newly paved streets in front of her house, roller skating, playing four-square and hop scotch. We went “back of the park” to explore, have picnics and build forts. We would walk uptown to get a 15 cent Shasta for our picnic lunch. I remember looking at the selection trying to decide the flavor.  In my neighborhood there were about 6 of us near enough in age to play games like cops and robbers.  For soccer, hide and seek and kickball we needed the previously mentioned neighbors and the Sendons.  They had the best back yard for soccer.
We started playing hide and seek when I was 12.  It was played in the dark and base was the large Linden tree in our yard.  We had a prescribed two block area where we could run and hide and one person was seeker.  The idea was to catch the hiders before they made it back to base and hollered, “alley alley in free!”  or something like that.  I think mostly  we enjoyed  the running around in the dark and scaring each other.
I learned to read before I went to school.  Mom says I came to her one day, asking her to teach me to read.  One day I was reading a library book (translation--not a first reader) on Sharon's front steps and her dad was surprised that I was reading.




Next door to Kindschuh’s was this house.  They were another old couple that would sit in their driveway on summer evenings.  Since we were always running around those evenings, we would stop once in a while and say “hello.” The house further back in this photograph had many tenants over the years.  One year when Sharon and I were in our impressionable early teens, the extremely handsome band teacher lived there.  He was building an airplane and we would walk over to check on his progress. 
We had a real school girl crush!



Turning left off Park onto Ash St. I walk by a couple houses I don’t have photos of.   In one lived a pair of sisters I would visit and they would give me cookies.  In another lived a family with several children. My sister and I played with them some.  I loved their house as it was big with dormer windows.  I was going through an “I want to be an architect and design houses” stage at the time.  Those kids weren’t as loyal as our other friends, and I wasn’t really sorry when  they moved away.  Across the street, lived the Roth’s, relations of the sisters that gave me cookies.  This house was another I would have loved to have the chance to go inside and look all over.  Mr. Roth was the principal of the elementary school so we knew their children as “teacher’s kids”, and also as playmates to round out our games that needed more players.  When I was a teenager they moved to other house near the Kloke’s and another teacher’s family moved in.   



North behind the Roth's lived the Boots. He was a teacher in the high school.  Their children were my brother's ages and they were often running back and forth between the two houses to play.  It would be a block up and a block over from our house.



 Turning right around the corner onto Bridge Street, sits the house where the Brunnerts lived. The Boots's back yard abuts the side of their property. They had children our ages and several younger ones.  They weren’t part of our select group, but as we grew older and could venture farther afield, we played with them some.   I remember their cellar was just a hole in the ground, so different from our big basement.  As the family grew so did their house, They picked up the whole house and built a half basement underneath.  I enjoyed watching the construction.  I had never seen anything like it. With the internet access of 2015, I looked up the Brunnert name to see if I spelled it correctly and found that Peggy, my sister’s age, died last year at the age of 48! 


If I walk back to Park St. through the alley that runs by the east side of the Brunnert and Roth properties, in this house on the left side lived the Bowmans. Their daughter Darla, was a year younger, but a playmate anyway.  I had never heard the name Darla before and I liked it.  I would ride my little blue Schwinn back and forth from her house.  It was there I learned the speed of sound is slower that the speed of light.  We could see someone shut a car door a block or more away and wait for the slam.  Riding pell-mell from her house just before school started I lost control and went over the handle bars landing on the sidewalk on my face.  That was one of the few times I went to the doctor.  My nose wasn't broken and school started before I healed up.  We had school pictures taken on the day my bruises turned greeny-yellow and my nose was still scabby.  My third grade photos are taken from the side.  I could have had them re-taken, but even at 8, I was aware that by the time the retakes come back, no one is interested in trading school pictures anymore and I wouldn't get any from my friends.  The Bowman's sold Amway.  Mom used their laundry soap, the the pans she uses today are from Amway.  I was so impressed with them, I spent the rather large sum of money needed to buy a set just like hers after I was married.  



Across Park street from the Bowman’s lived the Prazak’s.  He was another high school teacher and their children were my brother’s ages.  That makes four teachers in the four by two block area I called my neighborhood, actually five related to the school if you count Mr. Roth the principal.  He may have been out of the school system when he moved farther down Park street.  Teachers have never been paid high salaries and perhaps houses were cheaper “on the other side of the tracks”.  There wasn’t much division in our town between “upper and lower classes” but there was a slight distinction made of those who lived west of the tracks nearer the river.  On the south side of the highway there was a neighborhood with poorer families.  I considered them “second class” in my mind, but mostly because many of them were mean and their manners and morals weren’t the same as ours.  I was raised by two teachers who insisted on proper grammar with no swearing so we looked askance at those children. The Prazak’s remodeled their house after I left home and don’t live there anymore.




Continuing towards town on Park St. are houses in which we did't know the people that lived in them.There was the one with the ornate gingerbreading where a barking dog that scared the liver out of me every time I went past.  I was terrified of dogs as a child and I’m not very comfortable with them now unless they are quite a bit smaller than I am. Mom attributed it to the fact that I was knocked down by a dog before I could remember. We passed these houses every day on the way to school, on errands to town to buy things for our parents, and to go to the library. This blue house that was white back in the day figured highly in one of our trips to town.  Sharon and i were on our way to the grocery store to buy an onion for her mother(if I remember rightly). As we passed this house we heard banging and someone calling for help.  We would have been 10 or so, and this scared us half to death.  Since both of us had been brought up with a conscience enforced by certain reinforcements to the seat of our pants we cautiously went upo to the door to see if we could help. Lying on the floor of the enclosed porch was an old lady banging the floor with a broomstick.  I stayed with her while Sharon ran home for her mother, who came and took over the situation.  The poor woman had a broken leg.  I don’t remember anything else except we walked warily by the house for a long time afterwards.  I think the onion story must have been another time.  On that time we were sent for an onion and I remember we looked at all the onions and wondered what size to get.  Eventually, we decided to get the biggest one there was.  I suppose we wanted to make sure she had enough onion.  Her mother was astounded at the size. Looking back, I think it was the size of a softball. 
Another trip to town came about because I wanted a shelf in my closet.  The closet was big enough to make a nice little hidey hole and Dad agreed to put it in.  He sent us to the lumber yard three blocks away on Park to get a board. He wanted a 1x10 or so, it seemed hugely long at the time, and my sister and I carried it home between us. 
Behind this house, some people who I never had any idea of who they were had a pony for a while.  On our way home from school in those elementary days, we would stop and feed him grass and and some of the more daring of us would feed him an apple.  





Across Park St. from the House of the Broken Leg, lived a family with two big girls who were old enough to be our babysitters.  One of the girls was Anita, which I thought was a beautiful name.  I remember that she came to look after us the summer Tim was a baby while Mom was teaching summer school.  Dad remembers that he was the one that looked after the house during that time, so perhaps it was a joint effort.  There was a little boy in that family, too, and later they moved into the house in back of Hill's and I would walk over to baby-sit him.


We would walk on up Park Street, walking always on the north side of the street because in the next block was the brick house where the “witch” lived.  I have no idea which kid started that idea, but it sure scared me and if I ever had to walk past the house on the other side, I ran.  I have a vague memory of a dog barking and that wouldn’t have helped matters for me. Later when I was a teenager I had a reason to go to this house and when I was inside I found a very normal woman with a lovely kept house crammed with knick-knacks.
We then walked past the lumber yard and over the railroad tracks.  When I was in first grade I was running home past the lumber yard when, gulp, I swallowed a tooth.  I can’t remember if the tooth fairy had anything to give for that one.  Over the railroad tracks, we walked past the Sears store, which is now a dentist’s office, where I attended kindergarten.  We walked on, crossing Main St, Hwy 275 and up another block to the school.  Here all grades were crowded into the big stone two story school.  However, things were getting crowded even then.  My second and fourth grades were hold in “modular’s” on the play ground, and my third grade class was moved to the “multipurpose building” near the site of the new junior/senior high school.  Classes were first held in the new school in 1974 so the elementary students were gathered from all the places they had been scattered into the new elementary only school.  This school was also where the bus stopped to pick up the students who went to the new high school.  There was an early bus for band students, and two later ones.  Dad always left for school about 7:30 and if I was ready I would ride with him sometimes instead of walking to the bus stop
We lived in a big 3-story house on Railroad Street for a couple of years before we moved to Park Street.  The second and third stories had tenants, and after we moved we kept it as a rental.  I would walk up Maple Street five blocks, around a curve that led to the apartment house in two or three blocks  It was at the corner of Cedar and Railroad. This street turned into a gravel road a few blocks from home.  It was a quiet street, quite the edge of town in those days and I loved to walk there through the golden light of a summer evening.   The houses had large back yards and one had a horse.  One time I was walking through there just as a colt was born.   I don’t remember very much of the experience, but I remember the horse nosing over a shiny baby.  Now there are houses on the other side of the now paved street.  It doesn’t look or feel the same anymore.
I did a lot of walking around our little town.  For years, we only had one car and Dad needed that to get to school.  We walked to town, to the park, to school, to piano lessons, to our friends, and on our paper routes.  Riding our bikes was family entertainment with Andy and Tim in carriers on the back of Mom and Dad’s bicycles.  Later, I would ride with my friends. 


 Now when I look out of the bay window of my parent’s dining room, we can look north directly into Neligh Park which figured highly into our lives as children.  They have taken away Kucera’s house, the hatchery and all the trees that used to hide the park from our view.  It looks too bare and so much closer.  It looks just “right over there”, and now we see the lake, the bridge, the play sets, and the ball park.  As children, we walked over by ourselves to play with our friends, and later to take Andy and Tim there to play or swim.  Every day in the summer we walked or rode our bikes to the pool to swim from 3-5.  Mom was more careful than many people, only letting us go for 15 minutes at first and building up our sun exposure until we were tan.  Mom wouldn’t let us go until 3:00 because the sun wasn’t as strong then.  When I got burned, it was because I wasn’t listening to Mom! There wasn’t any sunscreen in those days. We had our end of school picnics there, and before the new school was built high school football was played there.  Teachers had to take tickets before high school games and Dad always picked football.  On Fridays in the fall, he would come home from school at 5:30 and Mom would have chili ready with buttered crackers crisped in the oven.  Then he would walk to the ball park, in the near dark.  I don’t remember if I walked over by myself or with Dad.  I remember walking by the ticket booth, I didn’t have to pay, I was a “teacher’s kid.”  All I really remember is running around under the bleachers with the other “teacher’s kids” under the bright yellow lights of the field, shouting, “We’re number one!”  That would be 1971 when I was 7 and the Nebraska Cornhuskers had won the national championship the year before.  I was just repeating what everyone else was saying.  I wouldn’t have known the difference between local and state football.
Some of the more important features of this park are this enormous cottonwood  and the horse swing.  Both are older than I am.  There are pictures of me on this swing when I was a year old, the cottonwood must be over 100. Another generation of children are enjoying the swing. 





My home town has grown, my neighborhood has changed, but my memories will live on.




Tuesday, December 1, 2015

My Neighborhood--Take One


In 2003 I walked around my neighborhood and took photos of the houses I remembered. 
The neighborhood had changed since I lived there.
More has changed now, when I am telling the story in 2015.


I grew up in West Point, Nebraska.  In 1969 we moved into a big two story house with full basement at 610 West Park St.  I loved that house. I still do.  I especially liked the big front porch and the big bay windows on the south and east.  When we moved in my parents put in new carpet. Under the green high/low carpet that has been there for over 40 years is a very pretty wood floor, especially by the bays. I remember when we got carpet because I stepped on the tack strips around the edges of the walls.  That may have been one of the times I got a tetanus shot for stepping on something.  I never wore shoes.  I remember the basement, a big open space divided on its length into two large rooms, one of which had a ledge under the east bay that we could play on.  Eventually, Dad carpeted that space with carpet from the high school when it was re-carpeted, put up his book cases and used the ledge for his models, making our lovely play place into an office.   The other half was big enough for a ping pong table and I played many games down there with my friends. 
I don’t remember our house being any color except white with red trim.  When we moved in it was gray with yellow trim.  My folks put aluminum siding on all of the house except the tall gables, which had to be kept painted and that wasn’t done until it was badly needed, then they hired someone to paint it for them.  Dad is afraid of heights.  I am too.  
In the last few years they've put siding over the gables and trim. Red wasn't available for the trim so they chose black.  Dad painted our red front door black to match and put a bow tie on it.


Catty-corner* northeast from our house lived the Sendon’s.  We could look out our east-facing bay window across Maple St. over our basketball court into their front yard.  Their two boys were my brothers ages and they played together when they were young.


*catty-corner means “diagonally opposite.”


Abutting our backyard and across Maple from the  Sendon’s, and sharing our small block was Nina’s house.  She was an old lady that was friendly with Mom.  I don’t remember being in her house very many times.  I thought she was a really old lady, and I think she was.  I remember her daughter had white hair.  Wild blue phlox grew profusely under the shade of the big tree in her front yard.  I got a start from those plants after they sneaked over to our yard.  I used to mow her lawn when I was a teenager.  She never wanted it mowed until it was 12” high and pushing through that jungle of weedy grass with our push mower  really tried my patience. (I don’t know when self-propelled mowers were available, but we didn’t have one in the late 1970s),  I received $5 for my efforts, which I didn’t think was enough even considering the rate of inflation.  It was every bit as big as our own yard, but I was permitted to mow ours more often. We used to swing on the weeping willow tree on the east corner of her lot, at least until our parents found out.  She also had a big mulberry tree on the west corner and we could pick and eat our fill.  If we picked enough we would eat the berries on ice cream.



This house is gone now.  It’s further north of ours, across Bridge St. from Nina’s.  Kuchera’s lived there.  (Coo’-che-ra) They kept a hatchery east of their house.  We used to play some in the tangle of trees behind their house.


They were gone when I took these photographs of the house and hatchery.  They didn’t hatch chicks here in my memory, but I always liked to go over in the spring when the chicks came in to look at the cute, little cheeping things.  Mom had it easy.  If she was short of eggs she could send one of the kids over with 50 cents and an egg carton to get some.  Mom usually tried to get white eggs for us to color at Easter time.  One time all they had were brown ones.  I suppose we colored those.  Mom never had enough extra money to buy extra eggs.



Heading west from Kuchera’s we would walk two blocks down Bridge St. to the curve that curled around the Kloke’s house.  Right at the corner they kept a pig.  We would walk down just to look at it.  They had chickens as well and that is where I first watched a chicken flop around after its head was chopped off.  Now I knew what the saying means, “running around like a chicken with its head cut off."  As the years went by the pigs and chickens disappeared and now the gravel drive that used to separate two pieces of Kloke property, is a paved road connecting to the also paved Bridge St. There is a greenhouse/gift shop on the other side now. 




Around the corner, on the east side was their house.  The Kloke’s were friends.  We lived in their trailer court for the first few years of my life.  I remember walking by myself from the trailer, out the gate of our fenced yard and down to the neighbors.  I think that neighbor was the Kloke’s daughter. She had a little girl my age.  They moved away but would come back every summer to visit and I would play with her again. 



I never knew who lived in this house. I was heading back east on Park street, toward our house .  The lovely flower garden on the concrete pad was once a gold fish pond with a stone birdbath in the center.  It was a unique area with rock chairs next to the pond. I remember seeing fish in the pond long, long ago.  For most of my memory it was an empty concrete hole.  I imagine it wasn't easy to keep it from leaking.  These owners have solved the problem with an attractive floral display.



Nearly home now, I walk past this housing area that has taken the place of a little house belonging to Mrs. Gelster.  We could see her house out of our east facing kitchen window, looking through the tall row of poplar trees.  She was one of the old ladies I liked to visit with a bouquet of violets in the spring. We used the lot north of her house to grow potatoes one year.  All I remember about that was the plethora of potato bugs and that I was bit on the lip by an ant.  We may have been picking off potato bugs, but I'm not sure. 
When we first moved there, there was a shed in back of her house where someone raised doves. I have no idea if it was connected to the Gelster's or not.  We would walk by and listen to the doves cooing and flappity flapping when they flew away.  They make a lot of noise when they roost in  large numbers.  
One of my earliest memories living on Park Street is the kittens that belonged to that house.  They followed us home one time and I have a vague, unsettling memory that they never found their way back.  I can’t remember anything else about that incident, but they didn’t stay with us.  We had other cats, but that is another story.



Directly south of our house lived the Hills. We could see their house from the front porch. I think we kids were slightly afraid of them since they were old and we didn’t know them very well.  We could look straight across over their back yard and the back yards of two other houses all the way to the highway.  Since then, new owners have built an enormous metal building in the way.



Part two coming next week.