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Thursday, 16 May 2013

1942

By Marcy Belson

Cousins, Phyllis, Marcy and Linny

I was five years old in 1942. It was a very good year for me, not so good for the five-year-old children in the war-torn countries.

My parents bought a house that year.

I remember walking to town with my mother. She was wearing a suit and high heeled shoes and I thought she was quite beautiful. She told me we were going to the bank and I would be signing some papers with my name.

I realized later that they were savings bonds my parents had put in my name. She told me we were going to use the money to purchase a home and we would be moving there shortly.

I believe they paid $4000 for the two bedroom, one bath house.

There were two things that made that house special. First, I had a bedroom; better yet, I had atree house. Until that move, I had slept in a baby crib at the foot of my parent's bed.

The earlier house had one bedroom and a sleeping porch where my father's younger brother and a nephew slept.

I called both of them Uncle. In our family, any adult relative was addressed as aunt or uncle. Uncle Art and Uncle Hayden had moved from Arkansas to our small town in order to find work.

Now, in the new house, those young men slept in another screened in porch at the rear of the house. That was the porch where my mother stored the homemade sauerkraut that blew up for several days.

The men came in from the fields at noon and rested on the living room rug while my mother got the food ready. They always listened to the Gabriel Heater news on the radio. My dad nicknamed the young nephew Gabe.

There were lots of nicknames. I answered to Mouse. I don't know where that came from as I was never little in size.

My new bedroom had a full-sized bed and a tall dresser, plus a dressing table with three mirrors. The side mirrors moved so a woman could see the back of her hair or clothing. My mother kept fabric for sewing in most of the drawers.

Glass shelves were installed over the windows for my collection of dolls, a brave thing to do with a small child in earthquake country.

The house had previous owners with two sons. Someone had built a treehouse for them. It was just a platform in the chinaberry tree with a wooden ladder nailed to the tree trunk but the thrilling part was a metal pole located close to the tree but far enough out to be a heart stopping feat until I learned to jump and hold on, as I slid down the pole.

As an adult, I could stand next to that tree and see the platform; it was less than six feet from the ground. But as a child, it was wonderful and hidden from the adults. In the winter, the tree had no leaves but it was a summertime hideaway.

We lived there until I was 11 years old. That was just six years, but I can see every detail in that home, every light switch and wall light fixture, the hole in the kitchen floor where the original ice box sat and could drain through the hole, the old white sink and a kitchen window that gave my mother a view of the driveway when my father came home.

I remember the maroon frieze living room set my parents purchased; it scratched my legs - little girls wore short dresses then - so I took my mother's scissors to it one day.

Got a spanking and I always had to go out to one of those chinaberry trees and pull a switch and take it to my mother for the whipping. My dignity hurt more than the switch.

There was a Philco radio in the corner next to the fireplace and I would stretch out on the hearth to listen to the scary shows in the evenings.

We had a phone with a party line. The phone was installed for my father's business and I was not allowed to chat with friends. I could phone them and set a time to meet but it had to be done quickly in case a business person called.

There were other families on that phone line and it would infuriate my dad when the children were allowed to "play" with the phone.

I also remember my mother closing the window curtains and telling me that we must not open them; it was a black out due to the possibility of a bombing.

After the war, two things happened as soon as possible. We got a private line for the phone and a new car. The car was a DeSoto, maroon colored, cloth seats, a two door with a lot of chrome. Someone must have washed that car often but I don't think it was my dad.

About those two boys who lived with us. They were just kids. Hayden was employed as a tractor driver by my dad. When he got called up by the army, he was sent to the Pacific and eventually to Japan during the occupation years.

The other boy was my uncle, my father's baby brother. He had been injured as a child and had lost one leg. He worked in the family grocery store as a meat clerk.

Those two young men were my heroes. They gave me their pocket change to save for a red haired doll on display at Firestone Tire Company. When I saved the necessary money, my mother let me go alone to the store.

She told me, much later, the clerk called her, unsure about a small girl with a piggy bank full of change, buying a doll without any supervision. My mother approved the sale and I went home with the doll, named "Red" for her hair.

Uncle Art and Uncle Hayden are gone now but I have three girl cousins, Phyllis, Cheri and Judy, descendants of those two men.

The house is gone too; it burned a few years ago. The owner built something new and used concrete on the remainder of the property. No tree house for some little person to climb.

I'll just think of it as I first saw it in 1942.


[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

Just lovely...isn't it amazing what memories stay so clearly in our minds for all the years..we had one of those scratchy living room sets too..horsehair is what many of my friends think it was made of..I remember never sitting on it without my bloomers or something to cover the legs..cats seemed to love it though..I was born in l94l...thanks for the visit...

I loved this story, Marcy, it was just so sweet. I was born in 1940, and had two aunts who lived with my family from the time before I was born. One aunt married and moved out when I was twelve, and the other one married and moved when I was a junior in college. Once they married they moved close by. So I always say I had three mothers and I loved them all...

What amazing details you remember and delicious ones. I thought about how going back to the house in which I was raised as a child. I asked why they dropped the sink down so much, and everyone laughed at me. Seems I grew!

A wonderful family story. And again, increadible amount of details after so many years. Every scene is so vivid and I feel like I am witnessing it. My favorite part is about your doll "Red", how you bought it and how your mother allowed you to go and by it by yourself and how your uncles contributed to your saving for this doll. A small wonderful fairy tail from real life. Thank you for sharing, Marcy!

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