The Couple Down the Street

Sometimes one of the grand kids will ask a tough question. A couple of weeks ago I was driving Audrey somewhere when I waved at a neighbor walking down the street. Audrey wanted to know who he was and where he was going.

“That’s Dr Faith. He’s walking over to his rental house next door to Jill’s.”

“What’s a rental house?”

To this second grader the concept of a rental house was difficult to grasp. Audrey doesn’t live in a rental house, neither does Grandpa. The whole discussion carried us for the rest of the drive to wherever we were going. I loved every minute of it.

When I was nine we lived at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. Louie was serving in the army at the time. There are several stories to tell about that summer. One of the stories involves a question like the one Audrey asked about rental property.

Holloman AFB New Mexico

Our house in New Mexico

Louie was driving me somewhere, perhaps to swimming lessons at the pool. We lived in enlisted housing, a circle of two bedroom duplexes in the desert. In one sense, it was a homogeneous neighborhood. Everyone worked for the military. Income levels were similar. Enlisted personnel even tended to be of similar ages, Louie would have been about thirty that summer. Just about everyone was married, as the single guys lived in the barracks or in town.

Life was pretty comfortable for me, and probably for the rest of the family, too. Linn, Eric and I shared one bedroom, with Louie and Grace in the front bedroom. There was a living room and kitchen. I don’t recall any other rooms. The whole house would have been under a thousand square feet. The front yard had a nice tree with a swing. Every other house on the circle looked just like ours.

That day in the car with Louie, I, as a nine-year-old, saw something that seemed a little out of the ordinary. So, just like Audrey, I asked the question.

“That couple looks different, Dad. Why?” Continue reading

Holloman Air Force Base

In 1959 Grace and Louie decided to try to get their marriage back on track. I didn’t understand much of what was going on. Not many nine-year old kids do. All I knew was that we were moving to Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico to live with my Dad. That would be a big the trip for this kid.

1952 Chevy

Guy, Eric, and Grace nearing New Mexico

There were three boys then, Linn was five, and Eric was not even two. Grace enlisted her big sister, Esther, to help drive to New Mexico in a car full of little boys. There probably was a moving company involved to ship some furniture, but in any case five people in a 1952 Chevy for more than a thousand miles seems like a daunting challenge. Five people and a cat.

My memories are pretty fuzzy on this, but I do remember stopping to “exercise” the cat, on a leash. He was probably as eager to get out of the car as we boys were. The other memory was walking into the motel we stayed at somewhere in Nebraska. The room was large, with what seemed like an endless row of beds. Four I think.

As I recall, the house was a two bedroom duplex on the edge of the air base. It was a pretty small apartment for us. All three boys were in one bedroom, Louie and Grace had the other. In our room was my desk (the same desk that’s in our house today) and three army cots, with woolen army blankets; maybe from the army surplus store? Continue reading

Klaus Park

The entrance to Klaus Park

The entrance to Klaus Park

Now that spring has really arrived, city parks call out to me. They called Jamestown the “City of Parks,” and for good reason. The original city fathers reserved space for several large parks along the river through town. The one closest to our house was Klaus Park. The other larger parks were Nickeus and McElroy parks. Every one of them felt quite large compared to the city parks we have in Rochester. Maybe my ten-year old mind saw things differently?

Walking south from the Pink House through the alley for just one long block took me to Klaus Park. Nowhere in the world felt better than that park in that town in the mid fifties. Adult supervision was unnecessary, and the neighborhood kids made the most of it. After breakfast I would hop on my bike, or just walk to the park, staying until I got hungry or it got dark. There was much to do, and so many kids to play with. Today, large parks seem to focus on events, such as the “Take Steps” walk for IBD. In those days it was family picnics and kids playing. Wasn’t it just a couple of months ago the police arrested some parents for sending their kids to the park without supervision? Horrors! Continue reading

Television and Birthday Parties

Not exactly sure which of us is in this picture, but that's the TV !

Not exactly sure which of us is in this picture, but that’s the TV !

Birthdays must not have been a big deal when I was a kid. I only remember one, and what’s memorable was not the party. We had just gotten a TV set and I was much more interested in watching Saturday morning cartoons than eating some cake.

TV was a big deal in 1959. Having one in our house was a big deal, too! Prior to our getting that set I had to go across the street to watch cartoons. Thinking about them now, the picture was nothing like we have today, it was snowy and distorted, and only black and white. Actually shades of grey, less than fifty shades of grey. The content wasn’t all that good, either. My favorites were Mighty Mouse, Popeye, and Woody Wooden Pecker. That’s what I called him, much to the amusement of my mother and grand mother.

Woody’s show is what I wanted to watch that morning, so we all took a break from the cake and watched TV for a while. (There’s a You Tube video of an old Woody Wood Pecker show below the fold.)

Continue reading