Tuesday, August 6, 2013
My Childhood House - Fond Memories
In my last post, I mentioned that my grandfather came from California to help my father finish the second floor of our house. They had put up the drywall to form the walls of the bedroom and a closet before my grandfather had to leave. Shortly afterwards, Marvin Stromgren came to live with us for a while.
I thought that he may have been a relative or a friend of my father's. He moved into the unfinished room upstairs for a while. It didn't seem like he was there for a very long time. Marvin had recently been discharged from the Army or Marine Corps as he had a uniform and a wool dark green blanket when he came. I think that he was in the service during the Korean Conflict.
As I was composing this post, I actually didn't know how Marvin and my dad knew each other. I did a little snooping on Ancestry.com. From the bits and pieces of information that I found, it looks like Marvin was a friend and not a relative. That's another story.
After Marvin's stay ended and before Dad had a chance to work on finishing the second floor, my brothers engaged in a game of dodge ball upstairs. That game ended with a large hole near the floor in the drywall on one side of the room. I remember that we tried to tell our dad that a huge mouse was in the attic and made the hole.
My brother and I were consigned to the unfinished bedroom after Marvin left. We apparently were not very good at getting to bed and staying there. My dad was a very astute person and decided to turn the story into one that worked for him. He said that a huge mouse may have made the hole in the wall, but it was the bear who lived in the attic that was now the problem. He told us that the bear would come out when one of us got out of bed before morning.
My dad sometimes miscalculated things. I started to wet the bed because I was too afraid to get out of bed at night because of that bear in the attic. Since bears are afraid of light according to my dad, he installed a low wattage light (today called a night light) so I could feel free to get up to go to the bathroom. My dad had an explanation why the bear wouldn't come out when I went to the bathroom vs. when I was being a problem child. Dad tried!
That house had gable in front with an air vent. Even before my dad put up the drywall there was a trap door to access the gable. As kids we would pull down the trap door and get into the gable. The small vent would allow us to see the outside of our front yard. My brothers and I would pretend that we were in a rocket ship and that we were looking down at earth.
Minnesota summers are hot and humid. After my father finished off half of the basement into a rec-room, I found myself spending most summers in the basement reading when I wasn't in some lake. The basement was the only cool place in the house.
After the rec-room was finished, we started to have Christmas Eve dinner at our house. By that time my mother's sister and her family moved from New York to Minnesota and my mother's brother and his family moved from Chicago to Minnesota. So now Christmas Eve was at our house in our basement. At that point, the Christmas Tree was put in the basement. Up to that time, our tree was set up in the living room.
The last time that I remember the tree in the living room was the year that my parents got us cardboard bricks and enclosed the entire doorway to the living room with these bricks. Mom and Dad apparently spent much of the night of Christmas Eve assembling the cardboard bricks and setting them into the door way in hopes that we would take enough time to get through the barricade to allow them some sleep. The lesson I took away from this memory...Don't under estimate your kids.
Thinking about our house also reminds me of our neighbor, Rosie Bryant. She had the most beautiful flower garden in her backyard. My dad had planted a vegetable garden in our yard, but I was entranced by Rosie's flowers. My dad let me have a small plot, about 2 by 3 feet in our small backyard. Rosie helped plant my garden each year and my tiny garden was always beautiful.
That little house has so many fond memories for me. It was hard to leave it.