Whistle while you garden

Jamestown ND 1954

Guy gardening

What a garden that was. The Pink House, as we called it, was on a lot along the river, on a short side street, along the alley. When I look at the city plat it’s clear that they had some trouble figuring out how to do that lot, ending up with about the same space that over a half dozen houses occupied across the alley. That left us room for a huge garden, just beyond the rabbit house.

Mom, Dad, and Grandma grew several kinds of vegetables in the garden, and I did love to help. The photo shows me pulling weeds, which I still enjoy doing today. My favorite vegetable in the garden was the kohlrabi. I’d pick one from the garden, pull off the leaves, and eat it right there in the back yard. Nobody I know likes them, so I haven’t tasted one in years.

Louie writes:

When we lived at 455 3rd street in Jamestown, we had a garden in which we raised some good vegetables.

Guy could take you through the garden after it started to come up and tell you the name of every vegie there. He was only about 3 years old then – but – if he was missing – the first place you looked for him was in the cucumber patch – he would eat them things right off the stem.

What I wanted to tell you about was one year the potatoes had some real big vines and that was a fair indication that under them there should be some big spuds. Continue reading

Juarez, Mexico

New Mexico License Plate

New Mexico License Plate

Louie opens this letter with a quote from the New Mexico license plate. I was in the fourth grade when we moved back to North Dakota. Most of the kids in my class had never been out of the state, but I had lived in New Mexico. For several years my doodles included the sun symbol that dominates the state flag and license plates. My time in the Land of Enchantment had been exciting. Apparently not as exciting as it was for Louie.

Louie  writes:

Back in 1961 I was stationed in New Mexico and Grace came down to see what it was like in “The Land of Enchantment.”

While there she wanted to go down into Mexico, and the closest port of entry was Juarez, just across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas.

A friend of mine said he would furnish the transportation there and give us a guided tour of Juarez – seems he knew all the off beat places … Continue reading

Earliest Memories

Eric Havelick, 1959, probably in New Mexico

Eric at the apartment in New Mexico

Eric writes:

What have I done with my life since August of 1957 …. my birthday.

I was born in Jamestown, North Dakota. I had a Mom, Dad, and two older brothers, Guy and Linn. When I was really young, we moved to Alamogordo, New Mexico where my Dad was stationed in the Army.

I don’t remember a thing about it.

All I know is my parents got a divorce and we moved back to Jamestown into my Grandma Fanny’s house. My mother was pregnant when they divorced and my younger brother Chris was born when we moved back to Jamestown. One of my first memories is of my mother changing Chris’ diaper.

From the pink house we moved to a bigger brown stucco house at 319 4th Avenue NE, in Jamestown. That is the first childhood home I remember.

— Eric H

My Life – in 1960

Guy at nine years old, in the New Mexico mountains.

Guy at nine years old, in the New Mexico mountains.

The other day a friend asked me how long I’ve been interested in writing. He had just been introduced to my blog and wanted to know the history. Writing has been in my blood from the beginning. The earliest documented example is from 1960, a homework project called My Life. I should have read that story before starting this blog.

The impetus for blogging was the stories my Grandmother had told us for years, and how each of us grand children and great grand children had different recollections of those stories. This blog would restore the “truth” of each story by recounting the stories as told by Fanny’s daughter. Truth is elusive.

Belva Bowen, one of my favorite teachers at Lincoln School in Jamestown, ND, gave my sixth grade class an assignment: Write the story of Your Life. Ms Bowen was ancient, probably near sixty with white hair and cotton print dresses. When I read the stories from 1960 it seems that todays recollections are flawed. Not by much, but it hasn’t been that long, and who would remember these stories any better than I? Perhaps I should be better at remembering those things. Nope.

Some of the items show interests that still hold my attention today. At two years old I sank my first plants. This week I’m making plans for moving hostas around in the yard. There are two pictures of meteorites in My Life. Astronomy still tickles my fancy, I follow news about asteroid and comet watching expeditions regularly. I never did learn how to play basketball, although I do enjoy watching a good game. Continue reading

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