Friday, November 05, 2010

So many homes

While we were taking our walk yesterday, Cliff and I got to comparing notes about how often our families moved when we were kids.  Cliff likes to say that his parents moved every time the rent came due, but I don't think it was quite that bad. 
The worst thing about moving, when you're a child, is going to a new school.  Cliff decided it might be a good thing, in a way, because maybe a kid learns to adapt to new situations.  
"I learned to adapt, all right," I said.  "I just ignored everybody and kept to myself."

  I remember well my years at Skinner School, the one-room school I first attended.  My parents were the telephone operators at Guss, Iowa, then.  But I vaguely recall us living on one of Ted Davis's farms some time or other.  There were sheep there, it was winter.  Daddy was in bed with pneumonia at some point.  I don't know what we were doing for money; Daddy must have been working as a hired hand for Ted, and perhaps the house was part of his pay.  I think I had to attend a different country school while we lived there, but it was such a short period in my life that it's all blurry.  Mother let me stir the gravy once, and I thought that was a big deal.
My parents were telephone operators in Villisca, Iowa, for awhile.  I have sharp memories of things that happened in the house there, but I don't remember attending school.  Perhaps I was too young.  There are no pictures from there.  

We lived at Eagleville, Missouri for two or three years, until the telephone office closed.  That's me, standing beside my fourth- or fifth-grade teacher, who also taught my mother when she was in school.  

There was a time when we moved to Harlem, in Kansas City, but didn't stay long.  That's when somebody decided I should be advanced a grade.  It was horrible, mainly because the math was beyond my comprehension.  Here's a strange thing:  I don't remember a house associated with this brief stay in the city; maybe we stayed with one of my uncles.  
Another time we moved to the Kansas City area and lived in Riverside, up on a hill in a basement house where the block walls were always damp.  The only thing I liked about that place was that I could see the Riverside drive-in theater from our yard.  It didn't take me long to figure out that movies aren't very interesting if you can't hear what's being said.  I walked up the road to a school where I never got to know a single kid.  The only thing I remember about that school is the lunchbox my mom got me, and the hot cocoa she sent in my thermos.  
Daddy worked as a hired man on a farm near Eagleville after the phone company went modern.  Words can't begin to describe how much I loved living on that farm.   
Our final move to Kansas City took us first to a tiny apartment in a building that had once been a grocery store.  Two uncles and their families lived in the downstairs apartments.  There was one bathroom for the occupants of four apartments, a bathroom that had only a stool and a sink.  There was no tub or shower available to us; we'd never had one before, so I guess it was no big deal.  We had running water there for the first time.  Cold running water, no hot.  

Only a levee stood between our apartment house and the Missouri River.  I loved playing on the levee.  
Next we moved a couple of blocks down the street to a two-story rental house that I think might have had running water, but no bathroom.  
And then my parents became home owners for the very first time and moved across the road.  Now we had all the amenities:  hot water, a bathtub, you name it.  That's where we lived when I took the picture that's in the previous entry of my mom talking on the phone.  
This picture of some of my cousins was taken in the front yard of that house.   
Now, at some point in those Kansas City years, we lived in a dumpy little rental house on Antioch Road, but I don't know where that fits in.  I remember really liking Tab Hunter and Elvis, when we lived there; I must have been thirteen.  
After my parents sold the Harlem house, they bought a little prefab, newer home in Crestview, a subdivision in Kansas City North.  

That's me, with one of the smartest dogs I've ever had; his name was Danny Boy.  We had to keep him tied in the yard when we were gone, and neighbor kids teased him a lot.  He started biting strangers, some salesman threatened to sue us, and Mother called Wayside Waifs to come and take him away.  I guess I never have had much luck with keeping dogs.  
Notice how the house next door looks just like ours.  

  Crestview was near St. Pius high school, so it was a heavily Catholic neighborhood.  At one time or another I babysat all those kids except for the oldest boy.  

Here's the car my parents drove when we lived in Crestview.  
I  never made another move with my parents; they moved to Blue Springs because of my dad's job, and I moved to an apartment by myself until shortly before I married Cliff.  Since we got together, we've moved a total of six times; one of those moves simply bounced us right back to this place, which we've owned since 1975.  
We had our fill of moving before we ever met one another.  
I only wish I had thought to ask Mother before she died why we so often relocated to places where we hardly stayed long enough to change the address at the post office.


Lindie said...

I can only remember 6 houses growing up but there were probably a few others when my dad was in the air force in Canada. But my older daughter lived in 18 houses by the time she went away to college at 18. We were military and I got in the habit of writing our addresses in the back of her baby book. She and her sister got used to changing schools and it wasn't so hard in the military schools as all the children were used to making friends fast.

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

When I was 21 I'd moved 21 times. I don't know if I could count them all now but I used to be able to. My Dad loved fixing up homes and reselling them for more money. This was what he loved to do and did it as a hobby more than anything else. It was good to make new friends and I never was in one place often enough to get used to it till after I married. Some good and some not so good memories there today.

Paula said...

Love the picture of you and Danny Boy. I attended the same school all twelve years and still keep up with classmates. One friend recently told me she appreciated that I befriended her when she moved to the country town from the city.