Saturday, March 23, 2013

Growing Up

While I was still in my Mom's womb, my parents bought their first home in Clearfield. As I recall, they paid $6,000 for this home. It was a small house with two bedrooms and one bathroom. The laundry room, fruit room and my Dad's workshop were all downstairs. There were hardwood floors in the living room and bedrooms with tile in the bathroom. I don't remember the kitchen floor, but I do remember it was an eat in kitchen (which are sometimes referred to as country kitchens); it was most likely linoleum. Our back door was really a side door with three steps going up to the main floor and lots of steps going to the basement. I fell down those stairs at least three times.

As our family grew, my parents finished the basement, adding four bedrooms and a bathroom. This meant everyone, including my parents, slept downstairs. Jane and Charmalee, my two older sisters, and I were referred to as the three big girls, and we shared a bedroom. Margaret and Barbara, my two younger sisters, were referred to as the two little girls and they shared a bedroom. Matthew, my younger and only brother, had his bedroom where my Dad's workshop used to be and it was partially under the stairs (the closet). The two bedrooms upstairs became the TV room and Dad's office. It was all quite cozy and still amazes me that we all fit.

There are so many memories I have of living on Ross Drive. It will take many posts to record all the memories swirling about in my head. I suppose to be organized and methodical, I'll categorize.

The Basement
Before the basement was finished, the three big girls slept downstairs in a semi-finished area. Jane and I shared a bed and Charmalee slept alone. I slept on the right side of the bed, which was pushed up against a partial wall (it formed an L). It seemed like every morning I would wake up and knock my head against the short wall.

Every morning!

Do you suppose I can blame my shortcomings on head trauma suffered as a child?

The laundry room was tucked in an area where the water heater, water softener and furnace were located. I'll always remember my Mom would hang clothes from the pipes over head. She had some of those cool pant stretchers she would put inside Dad's pants. They would dry, crease and stretch the fabric taut all at the same time, eliminating the need to iron Dad's slacks. Pretty cool, eh?

 Mom would dress us three big girls in the same dresses. One of my favorite outfits were little sailor dresses we had, navy and white. I loved those dresses.

In my mind's eye I can see my Sailor dress hanging from the pipes, too.

Because Charmalee's coloring was warmer than Jane and I, she would often get the same style dresses but in colors more suited to her coloring. Jane and I would wear greens and blues, Charmalee would wear browns and oranges.

We often teased Charmalee about being adopted. We would use her 'different coloring' for our argument. She wore different colors because she had different coloring because she was adopted.

Makes perfect sense to me!

One of my earliest life memories stems from seeing my special Sunday dress hanging from the pipes. When I was three years-old, I had my tonsils taken out. The night before my procedure, Mom hung up my dress, slip, tights, and underwear from the pipes. The dress was a pale yellow dotted Swiss with a white collar and sleeve trim.

So, the night before my procedure I remember my Mom getting everything ready and telling me what a special day it would be for me. I don't remember waking up the next morning (I'm sure it was still dark out) nor do I recall getting dressed. However, I vaguely remember the doctor telling me what a pretty girl I was and the nurse gushed over my dress. Next memory...... being at home with a selection of Popsicles and neighbors putting their faces close to mine, speaking but not understanding what they were saying.

I'm sure I was too focused on the Popsicles!

One year, prior to finishing the basement, we were barred from going into Dad's workshop under the stairs, next to the laundry room. It was the time leading up to Christmas and I remember when it was time for us to go to bed we would go to the door, knock and wait for Dad to open the door stick out his head and kiss us good night. Christmas morning we awoke to doll houses, doll furniture and doll clothes.

Dad made the houses which were flats with a kitchen, living room, bedrooms, and bathrooms. The walls were papered, the floors were carpeted or tiled and the doors swung open and closed. Grandpa Blakeley made the furniture which included tables, chairs, sofas, chairs, beds and bed tables, painted in blues, pinks, greens and yellows, coordinating to the house decor. Grandma Blakeley made doll clothes (Barbies) and cushions, pillows and bed coverings for the house.  We enjoyed many hours playing with our dolls in their houses.

The Fruit Room was a very scary place for me.  Mom would can fruits and vegetables each year and the fruit room was the storage place.  It was dark, cool and filled with bottles of food and brown glass bottles filled with water and drops of Clorox, for purification.  Emergency storage.  There was also commercially canned goods in there sometimes, too.  The light inside the fruit room had a pull string to turn on and off with a yellow light bulb.  It didn't seem to be very bright in there, either.

The hall light was also a yellow bulb, dim.  Mom and Dad would leave it on at night as a night light.  One night I fell asleep while looking at the hall light.  That night I had a bad dream which involved the fruit room and monsters.  I was forever afraid of the fruit room and I never faced the hall when fading off to sleep after that dream.

Before the basement was finished, the area that was my parents bedroom was the play area.  Our toys were there and we spent many hours playing downstairs. One of our toys was an ironing board and iron.  For some reason, safety must not have been as heavily regulated back then because our 'toy iron' really plugged in and got hot.  It didn't have an on/off control, either!

One day I remember hearing Jane ask Mom if she and her friend could play downstairs and if they could play with the ironing board and iron.  Mom said yes and also cautioned her to be sure and unplug the iron when they were finished.

Being the nosy little sister I must have been, I remember walking past the play area and seeing the ironing board and iron.  So, I stopped to see if she had unplugged the iron.  I remember thinking I would 'tattle' if she hadn't followed the rules.  I picked up the iron and put my hand flat on the bottom.  I don't remember every event following my 'iron check' but I do remember being in great pain with my left had being covered in white gauze.  It looked like an over sized mitten.  I remember the pain and I also remember sitting outside on the front steps, on my Mom's lap, as she tried to comfort me. 


Burn pain is unrelenting.

Even though it was my left hand that had been burned, I am right-handed, I remember my Mom doing almost everything for me, including feeding me at mealtimes.  It must have been associated with the pain and keeping the wound area clean and dry.

Honestly, I don't know if Jane was ever 'punished' for leaving the iron plugged in.  At that point, did it really matter?  I do remember that toy was removed from our collection.

As I recall, all of the walls in the basement were paneling. Dad did most of the work and I suppose paneling was cheaper and faster than sheet rock.

Mom and Dad's bedroom was a darker panel than the rest of the basement walls.

I'll leave it here and continue The Basement memories on another post.

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