Ted, Janis, Guy, Linn, Eric – Melvin & Iris
One year at Christmas in the middle 1950s all the Luehr’s came to Grandma’s house for a “reunion.” I think there were a couple of these, with the last one somewhere in the 1980’s. All the cousins, aunts and uncles came to Grandma’s house … the Pink House.
The big thing that makes this Christmas memorable was that Santa showed up. Keep in mind that there were nearly a dozen kids in that little house. All of the kids were in the living room doing something, maybe watching TV or playing games. Who knows where the adults were. We didn’t care.
The first house that I remember was a little pink bungalow in Jamestown along the James River. 455 3rd Street SW to be exact.
Front view of the Pink House.
To get to the master bedroom, you had to walk through the bathroom. In my youngest years the furnace burned North Dakota lignite. Not only was the furnace fired with lignite, but so was the water heater! It was a cute little thing, kind of like a Franklin stove with many pipes running back and forth inside. Grandma had to light the fire to get hot water.
On the west side of the house was the alley, and that had the coal chute to the coal bin. What a dirty mess! Weyerhaeuser Lumber delivered the lignite. They had a large yard down by the railroad depot with several buildings full of coal. They were right underneath the railroad, just south of the tracks. Apparently the hopper cars could drop the coal directly into the buildings.
My mother was an incredible gardener, and along the river was the perfect place to raise flowers and a vegetable garden. The front and back yards were full of iris, tulips, zinnias and who knows what else. My favorites were the tiger lilies with their orange blossoms and black seeds growing in the leaves. Besides having flowers, my parents planted a bathtub one summer to hold gold-fish. By the end of the summer the fish seemed pretty big to my eight year old eyes. Maybe that pond is why my brother Linn and I have back yard ponds today?
The property was split in half by the chicken house, where we kept rabbits. (Don’t ask.) The chicken house was a very large building. (It seemed that way to an eight year old.) There were cages for hundreds (it seemed like hundreds) of rabbits that my grandmother raised for meat.
We always had a cat in the house. One of them helped me get into trouble. Once after a snow storm, I was shoveling the porch by the French doors in the dining room. The cat was watching me through the panes of glass. It likes to play with the cat, so I feigned hitting him with the shovel. Too bad there was glass between the shovel and the cat.