Editor’s Note: The story continues, through the decades of the Rockaway Beach Train Depot. See links at the end for The introduction, Chapters 1 through 7.
By Virginia Carrell Prowell
Octobers are commonly stormy and I have become accustomed to the battering of the wind and rain against my shake clad exterior. It has been even more comfortable lately since they put those nice asbestos shakes on me. It was a real surprise then when one October night in 1960 during one of these storms, that all the excitement began. The fire whistle started blowing and loud speakers could be heard all over town. “If you live near the beach, vacate at once. There is a tidal wave alert.”
Willard and Virginia awakened the children and they all excitedly jumped in their car and headed for the hills, they even took the dog. There I was, left all alone to take the brunt of this terrible storm. Actually, it didn’t seem to blow any harder than many of the other storms I’ve been through but I guess those ocean waves were really whooping it up on the other side of the ridge. There are two rows of houses between me and the ocean. There used to be only one row, the one right on the ridge but recently people have been building right next to the beach. Oh well, maybe they will take a wave and I’ll be ok.
In about two hours, there was another siren and an announcement that all was clear and everyone came back home.
The next morning, the news told about the terrible wave that swept up Salt Creek and put two houses right up on the tracks. Sure am glad I wasn’t at my original location, down by the creek, I might have been washed off my foundation too.
The whole town was abuzz about the big tidal wave for a couple of days. Then they got the houses back on their foundations and just when everything seemed to get back to normal, the sirens blared in the middle of the night again and the loudspeakers started blurting out their warnings. Again the family left their warm beds to head for higher ground. This time Virginia was running around trying to wake up all her neighbors. Willard got more than a little disgusted with her and told her to get in the car. She was trying to wake up a fellow in a house on the beach. “Oh to Hell with him,” snapped Willard, “he’s probably too drunk to know what you’re talking about.” With that, they all left again for the hills just to the east of Rockaway.
It was quite early in the morning when this last incident happened. They were gone a long time and in the meantime, the summer neighbor from Portland, Lou Stone, came down with his son to go hunting. He had a special tag to hunt deer in this area. He looked up on the hills and saw the throngs of cars sitting up there. “Boy,” he told his son, “We’d better get up there, look at all those cars going up the hill. They must have really issued a lot of tags for this area.” When he got up there, he was flabbergasted at all the cars and people, then he ran into Willard and Virginia. He stopped and asked Willard how many tags he had for this hunt. He thought they had bought tags for every member of the family. Willard really laughed and told him they were only up there to keep from getting washed out to sea.
It was another few hours and they all came home again. Thank goodness for me it was another false alarm. The tidal wave wasn’t as bad as they had thought but it did wash those same two houses back on the railroad tracks and left some big logs down by Salt Creek. Again, every splinter of my frame is thankful for being moved to this location. Maybe it isn’t such a bad idea being a residence and being in a safe place where my interior is al-ways warm and my exterior is always cared for.
Mother Nature was not the only origin of storms. These children have grown into teenagers and frequently the internal storms worry me more than the exterior ones. With Willard and Virginia both working, there are many times when these children are left alone.
Susie and Claudia, being much the same age, argue continually about who does the housework or who does the cooking and about who is keeping their part of the room the cleanest. These arguments are pretty tame, only a little shouting but when Claudia and Danny get into it, that is when I get really nervous. I don’t know if my walls will stand the door slamming, the missiles of shoes, dishes or whatever that is hurled at one another. If their Mother and Father ever witnessed their behavior, I’m sure there would be some sore posteriors and two very sorry young people.
When they would get too violent, Susie would take Diana upstairs or outside. “Come on Diana, you shouldn’t hear and see all this violent behavior, let’s take a walk.”
One Saturday when all the family was home, Virginia had chores for all of them and was determined to get everything in order with their help.
“Danny, you get your room clean. Pick up all your clothes and change your bed. Susie and Claudia, you do the same and I don’t want to hear any fighting up there.”
This was a big mistake, I would like to have been able to tell her but I thought perhaps with her supervision, my walls would be spared from the usual attack of shoes or whatever they decided to throw at one another.
It wasn’t long before the sound of raised voices reached Virginia’s ears.
“Danny, get out of our room. You can make your own bed like Mama said.”
“But wouldn’t you like to earn a little money?” whispered Danny so his mother couldn’t hear.
“No, just get out of here and do it yourself for a change.”
“Hey you kids, I told you no fighting. Danny stay out of the girls room and bring your sheets down here.”
Danny finally got all his clothes together and took them to his mother. She gave him clean sheets and he made a quick attempt at making his bed, then told his mother, “I’ve got my room all clean now, can I go up in the woods with Gary?”
“All right, but it had better be clean or you’ll have to do it over tomorrow.”
Claudia was the first one to stomp down my steps.
“Mom, Danny didn’t clean up his room at all and Susie is bossing me around and I don’t think it is fair for Danny to get away with doing a sloppy job and you make us do all the work.”
“Oh good grief, is that all you kids do is fight? You stay down here and do the kitchen, and let Susie clean up the bedroom and don’t worry about Danny, I’ll take care of him.”
By the end of the day, Virginia was a nervous wreck. When Willard came home, she relayed all her troubles to him.
“Sometimes I wonder why I ever had any kids, these are driving me crazy.”
“Oh take it easy, tomorrow I’ll take you on a nice relaxing Sunday ride up in the hills. We can go see some elk and get away from all their bickering.”
On Sunday, Virginia sent the children to Sunday School and then she and Willard got in the pick-up to go on their nice “relaxing” ride. They were gone for several hours and I expected to see a calm and peaceful woman return. When they came through my door, Virginia turned to Willard and said, “Remind me next time you want to take me for a relaxing ride to stay home.”
“Well, Hell, I didn’t know there was snow up there, but we did see some elk.”
Nothing more was said about the incident on the hill until Virginia’s friend Jeanette came over to visit, then I understood her mood that day.
“Hi Jeanette, come on in, we just finished dinner. The kids are going to do the dishes so we can sit in the living room and visit.”
“Boy, you sure are lucky to have your kids do the dishes without fighting.”
“Oh don’t kid yourself, they do their share. In fact last Saturday, they nearly drove me out of my mind with their fighting. Willard tried to calm my nerves by taking me for his version of a relaxing ride.”
“Where did he take you?”
“Up in the woods in back of Rockaway, where else.”
“Wasn’t there snow up there?”
“You bet, let me tell you about it. We left here just after the kids went to Sunday School. We had our binoculars and camera, all set to see some elk and take a “relaxing” ride up there and come out on the Miami. Well, you know Willard, he takes roads that are the figment of his imagination and I told him that when we were on this narrow path with sliding rocks jetting down into the can-yon on one side and a steep bank on the other. At one point, I told him to stop and let me out, I’d walk across.
He said, “What’s the matter, don’t you think I’ll make it?”
“I told him I wasn’t too sure and if he didn’t make it, at least I’d be safe and could go for help. He just laughed and let me out and waited on the other side while I walked over. All the time we were traveling on these so called “roads”, I was thinking, well, at least we won’t have to come back this way. That was before we went around the next hill and there was the snow blocking the road. We had to turn around on this narrow path-like road and come back the same way. Only he didn’t come back the same way, he made some new roads of his own and I’m supposed to be watching for elk and relaxing.”
“The irony of all this is, when we got back down the hill, we saw a whole herd of elk right along the road in a meadow.”
“When are you going on your next relaxing Sunday ride with him?” chided Jeanette.
“Never, I’ll stay home and go to Sunday School with the kids.”
Diana was like a doll to her bigger sisters and they both tried to protect her, but she could cause quite a fuss at times. I remember a particular incident.
Diana came into the house with her hands cupped together and what appeared to be a stick protruding from the bottom of her fist.
“Look, Susie, I’ve got a mouse.”
Susie peeked into her fist, let out a scream and ran out my door, slamming it behind her.
Claudia, being inquisitive about her little sister’s treasure, said, “Let me see Diana. What do you have there?”
“I’ve got a little mouse, see.”
Claudia bent down to peek into her hand and she too started screaming and ran outside.
Virginia was sitting at her sewing machine and heard all the commotion.
“You two girls get back into this house and finish your dishes.”
“But Mama,” argued the girls, Diana has a mouse in there.”
“Oh don’t be so foolish, she just has a stick in her hand.”
“No, Mama, I have a real mouse.”
Upon closer inspection, Virginia discovered, indeed she did have a real live mouse.
“Where did you get that? Take it outside and let it go.”
“No, No, I can’t. I took it away from the kitty cat; she was going to kill it.”
“I know sweetie, that was nice of you to rescue the mouse but we can’t keep it around here. Let’s go across the street and let it loose where the cat won’t see it. We’ll put it out in those weeds where it can hide.”
“OK, but be sure that old cat, Lucky, can’t see us.”
The two of them quietly crept around my corner and crossed the street near the track where Diana turned the mouse loose into the grass.
In May of 1962, Virginia had surgery to remove a growth she had behind her ear. She had this growth since she was a child but after she had the mumps, it had grown. She wasn’t in the least concerned. She thought it would be a routine operation. It turned out to be more than routine and changed her life quite drastically for some time.
Of course, with Virginia in the hospital, all the responsibility of the household chores went to the girls. They cooperated and everyone helped out.
She was in the hospital for over a week and when she came home, she had a huge patch on her face and she had what they called Bells Palsy. Her face was all pulled to one side. This frightened little Diana even though she was happy to have her Mama back home.
Because of the Bells Palsy, Virginia’s eyes were very sensitive to light and wind and the doctor had told her she couldn’t work outside in the garden. Willard told her not to worry; he would take care of it until she was able to take over again.
What a change in this man. He really took to the gardening and re-did all the flower beds and even did some nice landscaping.
October 12, 1962, a memorable day for most people in the state of Oregon. The infamous Columbus Day storm struck. This was a different kind of storm from any I had ever witnessed. As a matter of fact, the day started out quite decent. By the time Virginia got home from work about 3:30 p.m., the skies had a strange look to them and the winds were starting to blow. The strange thing about this storm was that it seemed to be quite high above my roof. Nothing actually hit against my south or west walls but there were these eerie noises above and the sky had a peculiar color.
There were bulletins on the television about high winds hitting the Portland area and then all of a sudden the lights went out. This was not an unusual occurrence though. Virginia finished cooking dinner on the wood heating stove, they lit candles and everyone went to bed early.
In the morning, when the family got up to go to school and work, there were still no lights. This was not too unusual so Virginia went on to work as usual and the children went to school. The children didn’t stay there long; they were sent home … there was no heat in the schools. Willard came back home too, the mill couldn’t run either. I guess to the north of us and to the south this storm really struck hard with downed trees and light and telephone wires everywhere. Virginia stayed at the hospital and worked. She couldn’t do her regular job of physical therapy because of the lights being out but she helped out in other ways. Some of the nurses aids couldn’t get to work because of road closures.
The lights and telephone were not back in working order for about three days so Willard and the children had a little vacation. Guess what Willard did? Fish, of course. He took Danny and came home every day with a couple of steelhead.
Well everything finally got back to normal, then just exactly one week to the day, another terrible wind storm came up. This time it hit Rockaway with full force. My poor south side really took a beating. The old southwest-er shook me like a rag, it’s a good thing I have such a sturdy frame. I guess by now Virginia has realized I’m not going to fall apart and she sleeps right through all my shaking and agonizing during these storms. A bucket that had been in the yard during the Columbus Day storm and hadn’t moved, came flying through the air and hit my wall with a crashing blow. Luckily it missed my windows and didn’t do any damage … just caused a little excitement.
We had storms all winter but none as severe as these last two. Everyone was glad when spring came in 1963.
Well, this decade has been a most unusual one and today’s event has topped them all. Today, November 22, 1963, the television is reporting the President of the United States, John F. Kennedy has been shot in Dallas, Texas.
This whole family is in shock. The children came home from school with long faces and met their mother at the door. “Mom, did you hear what happened?”
“Yes, isn’t it terrible? I can’t believe this sort of thing could happen in the United States.”
“He isn’t dead is he Mom?” asked Claudia.
“I think he is dear, let’s turn on the TV and hear what it says.”
The news was bad and everyone sat around the TV that night with tears in their eyes and disbelief in their hearts that such a thing could happen here.
“What’s going to happen now?” asked little Diana.
“Vice President Johnson will take over and be our President. That is why we have a Vice President, in case something happens to the President.”
“How did they know President Kennedy would be killed?” questioned Diana.
“No, no, honey, no one knew he was going to be killed. We always elect a Vice President. He is there to take the President’s place in case of any illness or death. It has always been that way.”
The news of Kennedy’s death dominated all the television time. Although the children were saddened by his death, they were a little upset that their favorite cartoons and other programs were interrupted by all the news reports.
The news for the next several weeks were all about Kennedy’s assassination and the man they said had shot him, Lee Harvey Oswald. There was much controversy over who was behind the shootings or if Oswald was acting on his own. A fact finding committee known as the Warren Commission was finally appointed to investigate.
Grandma Schultze (Virginia’s mother) came to stay with the family. She had been overseas in Turkey with Virginia’s brother, Bob, for a year or so. Grandma was a lover of the beach and although she was in her 70’s she took a walk there every day. Wiggletail, the Cocker Spaniel was her faithful companion on all her excursions.
One day, for some reason, he didn’t go with her. Grandma had purchased a rain outfit that covered her from head to toe. She would put on all her warmest clothes and then put that cover-all over the top of it all. When she was completely dressed, her 103 pound stature looked more like a monster from outer space. When she returned this day, the wind was howling and the rain was beating down with tremendous force. She came around my corner with her head down and in almost a crouched position, carrying all her findings from the beach, Wiggletail jumped from his shelter and started growling and barking like he was going to take her leg off.
“Wiggie, Wiggie, it’s me, Grandma, don’t eat me up.”
Poor Wiggletail, his head hung down in shame and then he started wiggling all over when he finally realized who she was.
Finding a glass float was one her biggest dreams. She hadn’t found one for years. Willard had found many of them and she was anxious to have the thrill of seeing one of those green treasures floating up on the beach again. She was up early in the mornings to catch the right tides and every day she would come home with only shells and driftwood.
One day Willard said to Virginia, “I’d sure like to plant one of the glass floats I’ve found on the beach for her to find.”
“You’ll never get away with that, she’ll catch you.”
Willard didn’t pay any attention to Virginia; he went directly into her end of my house and said, “Hey there, how’s the glass ball hunt coming?”
“Oh you, just quit your gloating, you know darn well I haven’t found any. How many have you found?”
“Oh, I found a couple this morning, I’ll tell you something though, if you go down there about 2:30, the tide will be just about high then and I’ll nearly guarantee you you’ll find one.”
“Yeah, well maybe I’ll try again, but with my luck, I’d be more likely to get washed out to sea than find one of those blessed floats.”
Willard left with a satisfied smirk on his face and went about his normal routine of woodcutting, seeming not to pay any attention to his mother-in-law’s activity, but he kept a close eye on his watch. He sneaked down ahead of her and crouched behind some beach grass. He was going to plant the glass float just where she could spot it but he didn’t want anyone else to get it. He waited and waited, making sure no one else was on the beach. Just when he was about to make his plant, Grandma Schultze appeared and he was foiled. Then to his surprise, she went running towards the water and came away with a huge glass float. He took his float and rushed home ahead of her and acted thrilled and surprised when she came home with her treasure.
Grandma was a big help to Virginia. She watched Diana and kept an eagle eye on the two older girls, much to their dismay. The two older girls were supposed to keep the laundry done, both washing and drying and folding the clothes. Many times, they would put the clothes in the dryer and then forget about them. Grandma would hear the buzzer on the dryer and take the clothes in her room and fold them. One day when the girls had some friends over, Grandma came into the living room holding up a pair of underpants and said, “Girls, are these yours or your Mother’s?”
The girls were mortified, they were so embarrassed. When Virginia came home, they related the story to her … “Oh Mom, you don’t know how embarrassing that was, can’t you do something about that?”
“No, but you can, do the laundry like you are supposed to and Grandma won’t be folding clothes.”
The girls were expected to do the dishes. Willard told them if their mother could work all day and cook dinner, then they could go to school and do the dishes. There were many words exchanged during these sessions but they also had their fun times. The song “Deep in the Heart of Texas” was popular and they would start singing it and then using the cupboard doors would make the appropriate sound affects. “The stars at night, are big and bright, slam, slam, slam, deep in the heart of Texas and on and on until Willard or Virginia would call in from the living room, “Cut down on that noise a little.”
At Christmas time, I really enjoyed it when they would put Diana up on the drain board and teach her “The Partridge in the Pear Tree.” She learned all the verses and they had a good time while doing their chores.
In the next three years, these three teenagers are all graduating from High School. It keeps Virginia busy with their school activities as well as her social activities regarding the schools. She is always involved in PTA and her daughters are fallowing in her footsteps in being involved in Rainbow Girls and all kinds of church affairs.
Danny is never much involved in anything except fishing, hunting and trapping. All during his high school years, he ran trap lines around the lakes. He would get up before dawn every morning and take his dog, Cindy, a big black Labrador out to check his traps. He was always back with his catch about an hour before he had to go to school. He brought home lots of racoon and an occasional mink and one time he even caught a beaver. He would skin them out and stretch them on a board, then put them in the spare room upstairs next to his room. At times, they would really get to smelling and I was always glad when Virginia or Willard would finally detect the odor and make him clean them up.
He did quite well with the furs, selling them to a dealer in Portland. Besides his trapping he had a paper route and was continually thinking up ways to earn money. Of course he was at the age when he wanted to drive and with strained nerves, Virginia would let him drive her to the store and other places until he finally got his license.
Even though most of Danny’s time was spent in the great outdoors, he was a healthy teenager and wasn’t blind to the fact that there were other members of the opposite sex besides his sisters. He had a girl friend from the north part of the county. She was a classmate of his and liked hunting and fishing, too. One day he brought her home with him to show her his shotgun. No one was home, not even Grandma.
Proudly he took his gun out of the case and pointed it from the living room in toward the kitchen.
“Don’t do that, warned Karen, “It might be loaded!”
“Oh no, it isn’t loaded,” he said confidently as he pulled the trigger and KABOOOOOMMMM, lead shot through the top of the living room door, into the kitchen, splattering my ceiling with BB shots. It was lucky no one was home and no one was hurt but it scared the living daylights out of those two kids and it really shook my timbers, too.
“Oh my God, my Dad is going to kill me for this.”
“Well,” scolded Karen, “I told you not to pull the trigger, you know every gun should be considered loaded and you shouldn’t ever pull a trigger like that.”
“Oh shut up.” growled Danny, “I don’t need any lecture from you.”
When Virginia and Willard returned, they didn’t notice the hole above the door or the kitchen ceiling peppered with BB shot. Several days later, Willard was the first to spot it. He didn’t say anything to Virginia, he called Danny down from my upstairs.
“Say, you wouldn’t know anything about that hole over the living room door and those spots all over the kitchen ceiling, would you?”
Danny hung his head, “Yeah, I guess I do. I was showing my gun to Karen and I kinda pulled the trigger.”
“Kinda? Kinda? How do you kinda pull a trigger? Haven’t I told you enough times about always checking the barrel of a gun before you pull a trigger?”
Danny knew his dad was a little more than angry at him; he was disgusted with him, too. Danny just replied, “Yeah, I know I shouldn’t have done it, I’m sorry about the hole and the ceiling.”
“Well,” said Willard, “You’re going to be a damned sight sorrier by the time you pay for a new ceiling and fix that hole in the wall and I think you’d better stay home for a couple of weeks, too.”
That was the end of the scolding session and I don’t think he ever did pay for the repair of the ceiling or fixing the hole in the wall. It stayed there for a long time as a reminder and even became a topic of many conversations throughout the coming months.
In the summer of 1964, he graduated from high school and the next thing I knew he had bought a car … a TR-3. It was a snazzy-looking little blue sports car and his chest swelled with pride when he showed it off to his friends. He was working in a shingle mill after he finished school and always drove his little sports car to work. One night when everyone was in bed, two young boys sneaked up and put the car in neutral and shoved it down the road. I was wishing the wind would blow hard or we would have an earthquake so I could alert them but it wasn’t happening.
Several hours later, the Rockaway police came pounding on the door. Virginia put on her housecoat and answered the door.
“Is your boy home?”
Virginia was half asleep and was shocked at his question. “Of course he is. Why? What’s the matter?”
“Where is his car?” questioned the officer.
“Well, it’s right out there,” she said as she pointed to the street, at the same time seeing an empty place where his car had been. “Well, I don’t know, but I’m sure he’s home.”
Just then Danny heard the commotion and came down my stairs.
“Where’s your car?” asked the police.
“Right out there, what the hell’s going on?”
“How long have you been home?”
Virginia interrupted, “Now look here, where is his car and what is going on here anyway?”
“Are you sure he has been home all evening?”
“Well of course he has, can’t you see he just got out of bed. Where is his car?”
“Yeah!” shouted Danny, “Where the hell is my car?”
“Well son, we have bad news for you someone stole your car and it is in the ditch between here and Brighton. They wrecked it and ran and we didn’t know if you were in with them or not.”
The police told Danny they would get him his car later and that they did but it was bent quite badly which was a hard blow for this young lad to take. It was his first car and he was so proud of it.
Willard slept through the commotion and didn’t know anything about it until morning.
Every once in a while Virginia became dissatisfied with the way she thought her house should look. She would get that glazed look in her eyes, get out a pad of paper and a pencil and start sketching and measuring the rooms, look through catalogs and then jot down more figures on her pad. She never really said anything to Willard but he was watching her and finally he would say.
“Well, what have you got in mind this time?”
“Oh, I don’t know for sure but I’ve been thinking since Mom has gone to live with Evelyn and the kids are all getting so big, I’ve been thinking about …”
“Hold it right there,” Willard interrupted, “I hope you aren’t thinking about tearing down anymore walls.”
Thank goodness he spoke up, maybe he can put a stop to whatever project she has in mind. It usually means a crowbar and a sledge hammer to some part of my structure.
“Well not really, I was just thinking we could make that room that Mom has been sleeping in, our room. We could make her kitchen into a laundry room and combine those two bathrooms and make one big one so we could have a tub/shower combination.”
“Oh is that all?” he cattily responded.
“That is a good beginning,” she said with a smirk on her face. “Then I was thinking we could take the wall out between the kitchen and living room and make that one big room and make the bedroom a kitchen.”
“Oh now you think WE could do that do you? Where do you think WE could come up with all that money?”
“Don’t worry about that, I have a plan for that, too.”
It seems to me she has been doing a lot of planning before she got out that pencil and paper.
“Hmpff, you and your far fetched ideas,” he said as he left the room and headed for bed.
The next morning after he had slept on the idea, he said, “Just where are going to get the money for this great project of yours?”
“From the bank, I can get a home improvement loan that we can afford and it won’t strap us at all. After all I haven’t been working all these years at the hospital for nothing and I think we deserve a better place to live that isn’t so crowded. And don’t ask where company is going to sleep … if we don’t have room, they can get a motel.”
Whew, she really put her foot down that time. It looks like the crowbar, saws and hammers will soon be ripping my insides out.
It took about four months for him to complete the whole plan and since he was doing all this, he decided to have some new wiring put in place and a new fuse box, too. After Willard got into the project, he worked like a trooper and of course he made all the neighbors think it was his idea.
Everything was in a huge turmoil while this project was going on. New cupboards were ordered from Sears Roebuck. You should have seen Willard’s face when they all came in four cardboard boxes.
“What the Hell, you mean I have to assemble the damned things before I put them up?”
“Don’t get in such a huff, I’ll help you and besides, I saved several hundred dollars getting them this way.”
When he opened the boxes it looked like a pile of sticks and a few boards. I thought he was going to blow a gasket.
“@#*##*&#, you call this bunch of sticks kitchen cupboards?”
“Now let’s not get all excited here. We’ll just get the instructions out and I’ll read them while you put them together. It can’t be that much of a chore and all the pieces must be here.”
Well, there were a few exchanges of four letter words before the #*&@###*$* cupboards were assembled but when all was done and they were painted, they were quite proud of themselves.
Virginia had one more big surprise for everyone. She had wall to wall carpeting put in the new living room. When it was all completed and everything was put back into place, I must say, it was a big improvement.
Susie and Claudia had many girl friends but they each had a special friend named Lynne. They were known as, Little Lynne, and, Big Lynne. Big Lynne was Susie’s age and Little Lynne was Claudia’s age. They both were in and out of my doors so often, they almost became one of the family. Big Lynne was tall, thin, freckled face and had the most winning smile a girl could possess. She had a personality that enhanced her smile. During her senior year, she had a boyfriend who was in the Navy. “Mrs. “C”, would you like to see a picture of, Bill?”
“Of course, bring it over sometime.”
“Oh, I have it right here in my purse.” and she reached into her oversized purse and pulled out a framed 8 x 10 picture of Bill in his navy uniform. I thought Virginia would die laughing. “Oh Lynne, you nut, why don’t you get a pocket size picture to carry around instead of this big portrait?”
“Oh no, it makes me feel he is really here this way.”
Virginia just shook her head and said, “Well, Lynne, he is really a handsome young man.”
“Thanks, Mrs. C, I think so, too.”
The Carrell’s never locked my doors and often Big Lynne would sneak in the back door and up my steps to surprise the girls but she could never quite make it because my 12th step had a definite squeak to it and she would be caught every time.
If only Virginia knew what they did up there, she would have had a fit. Lynne loved canned peaches but her mother didn’t do any canning. The fruit cupboard was just at the top of my steps and they would get a jar of home canned peaches out and eat them with their fingers. They really enjoyed that fruit. The next morning, they would hide the fruit jar under their clothes until they could wash it out in the sink.
This year of 1965 was a year I and this family will never forget. It was the year Susie graduated from high school and the year Claudia was active in Rainbow Girls.
Virginia and Willard were very proud of both girls for their achievements, Susie’s scholarship to a school in Washington, Claudia’s election to Worthy advisor of Rainbow Girls and then being elected for a state office in that organization; but all these accomplishments meant new dresses and of course gifts for both girls.
Virginia was a busy lady working every day and trying to keep up with all the social activities going on. Not only did it keep both parents busy with the activities, it made a big hole in their pockets. It also meant company from out of town, Virginia’s sister and mother, Willard’s mother and lots of friends. My walls were resounding again with happy chatter and that always brings back fond memories of when I was a depot and passengers were crowded around my waiting room.
When school started again in September, Susie was off to Seattle to go to school. Claudia was in her last year of high school and Diana was in the 5th grade. Things were a little more quiet in the mornings when they were getting ready for school. There were no more squabbles about who was going to wear whose clothes.
October was still one of the big events of the year for Willard and his son and brother. The brother and his two sons, Stephen, 13 and, David, 14 usually came down for a few days of deer hunting. Virginia would fix them a big lunch to take along but she never was up at the crack of dawn with them for breakfast. Willard would tell them, “Wheaties are the best breakfast you can eat. Grab a bowl and fill’er up.” The boys would do as he said and they were soon out my doors for their hunting adventure.
Evenings were a different story. Virginia always had a big hearty dinner awaiting them, usually including the vegetable squash which was in season then. The nephews would look at the squash and pass it on.
“Hey, Stephen and David, take some of that good squash.” scolded their father. They would obey him but the squash was always the last thing on their plates to be eaten.
“I’m sorry boys, apologized Virginia, “You would think I would remember you don’t like squash. Next year remind me will you?”
“It doesn’t make any difference,” Gerald retorted, “They can eat it anyway.” … and they did.
Stephen, the youngest boy had a leg amputated just below the knee and wore a prosthesis. He only had a slight limp and no one really thought about his slight handicap. In fact, one cold rainy day when they came home from their hunting, they were all soaking wet. The men came in and changed their clothes right away but the boys were just standing around by the heater until their father yelled at them.
“Go change and get out of those wet clothes.”
They both did as their father requested and then came down by the fire again. Virginia noticed that Stephen still had one wet shoe on.
“Stephen, you better get that wet shoe and sock off, you’ll catch cold with those wet things on.”
Stephen grinned and said, “Ah, Aunt Virginia, I don’t think I’ll catch cold in that foot.”
It was then she realized that was his false foot and she just jostled his head and said, “Well, maybe you’re right there.”
Thank goodness of the happy events this year because in December when the whole family was getting ready for Christmas to be held at Grandma Carrell’s in Portland, a frantic call came from Danny who had been staying with her.
“Come in town quick, Grandma has had a stroke and she is in the hospital.”
It was Christmas vacation so the entire family, except the cat and dog, left for the city. I felt cold and alone but not as bad as the days I was boarded up. At least the dog, Wiggie, and the cat, Lucky, were there and the neighbor came over once a day and fed them, but I missed the warmth of the wood fire and the family gathered in the living room in the evenings.
When they returned on the 23rd of December, they all were in a gloomy mood. Grandma had passed away and they had her funeral just 3 days before Christmas.
Virginia and Willard quickly went about building the fire and getting extra beds made up. They had invited Willard’s brother and family of 8 children down for Christmas to help them through this sad time. Let me tell you, that was one noisy Christmas.
The smaller girls had received Chatty Kathy dolls and the older girls had received portable radios. The two boys were given noisy guns and the parents were trying to play Christmas Carols on the new record player. I thought my doors would be torn off their hinges with all those kids running in and out. There wasn’t much discipline going on here and I guess I could understand why but I was glad when the holiday was over and they all got back in the station wagon and drove away.
In the spring of 1966, Claudia graduated from high school and had planned to go to college but she became quite ill and had to stay home. It wasn’t too long though and she was up and about and wanted something to do. Virginia tried to get her interested in doing the house-work, but that didn’t interest her long enough. Claudia was always very popular with her teachers and the administrators of the school so when they found out she was not going to college, they ask her to work for the school district. She was excited about the opportunity and went to work right away.
Anticipating guests for the holidays, Virginia talked for redecorating my interior again, but Willard thought the place was good enough.
“Well, I suppose you are right,” agreed Virginia, “but we need to get a new dining room table and chairs … this one is a disgrace.”
“OK, OK, that’s fair enough, we’ll go to Portland this weekend and see what we can do about that.”
They were back in a couple of days and the old dining room table was put out and a new one graced the dining area. It wasn’t anything fancy, but fancy wouldn’t do for my interior … no matter, Virginia was happy with it and that was what counted. Oh, that wasn’t all, she must have really talked a good line because they came home with a new couch and love seat as well. Now they are ready for more guests.
When they arrived, Virginia had steaming bowls of clam chowder for them. They were all hungry and devoured the huge pot of chowder and the garlic bread like they hadn’t eaten in weeks.
Only one girl stayed for the holiday, the rest of the gang was off to other parts of Oregon but Virginia asked them to stay for the night. My upstairs looked like a dormitory where the girls slept and it was wall to wall sleeping bags in the living room. It was a good thing that Willard enlarged that room when he did, although this type of company was the farthest from his or Virginia’s thoughts when the remodeling was started.
Holidays were fun times for this family and there was usually extra people invited for dinner. Virginia loved to cook for a large group even though Willard thought she was out of her head for going to so much extra work.
The next year Claudia was feeling much better and decided to go to the University of Oregon.
After one or two terms at the University of Oregon, Claudia decided college wasn’t for her and she was running short of money, so she decided to quit and get herself a job.
Claudia went up to Kodiak, Alaska to work in the canneries, planning on going back to school in the fall.
Virginia’s sewing machine was purring away again as she tried to cloth all three of her girls. I think she enjoyed making their clothes and it was a big help on the budget for the two older girls. In the meantime, Danny was working in Portland and had found a girl friend. He brought her home several times and the family also fell in love with her.
On November 8, 1968, Danny and Karen were married and again Virginia had her sewing machine cranked up to make her and Diana’s dresses for the wedding.
Dan and Karen moved to Brighton and Danny worked in the woods. Karen was a frequent visitor through my doors. She enjoyed visiting with Virginia and Diana was also fond of Karen.
One day while Karen was talking to Virginia she called her “Mom”. Diana stopped what she was doing and looked puzzled at Karen and then she said, “Did you call her Mom?”
“Well, yes, isn’t that alright? Isn’t she my mom too?”
“Oh, I just never thought about it like that,” said Diana.
“Well,” Karen said, “Could you share her with me?”
“Oh I suppose so, yeah, I guess it’s ok for you to call her Mom, too.”
Diana went on with what she was doing and Karen and Virginia winked at each other.
On one of her visits, Karen announced, “Well, I guess you are going to be grandparents next August.”
Virginia was ecstatic and Willard only smiled but everyone knew he was just as pleased as Virginia.
It is hard to believe that these two people who came to live within my walls as young adults are now going to be grandparents. Time really has a way of passing by.
The next few months did pass quite rapidly too and one day when Karen and Dan were visiting, Virginia asked Karen, “How are you feeling, Karen, aren’t you about ready to have that baby?”
“Oh I feel OK but I’m sure getting tired of packing this thing around like this, I’ll be glad when I can carry it in my arms.”
The young couple went on home and Willard and Virginia were just about ready to go to bed when the telephone rang. Danny’s excited voice on the other end said, “Mom, come quick, Karen is having her baby.”
Virginia was out the door in a flash. She was gone several hours. Willard went to bed as usual, nothing could disturb his sleep. When Virginia arrived home about 2 am, she woke Willard to announce he was Grandpa to a baby boy, Jeffery Lewis Carrell.
Here are the introduction, and Chapters 1 through 7 …