My mother and father bought an acre and a third on 82nd Avenue, off of Taylors Ferry Road. We had a route number for an address— Rt 6 Box 936 to be exact. My father cleared the land by dynamiting the tree stumps and digging them out. He built our home in stages as the family grew
We were on a party phone line with the next door neighbor who liked to listen in on our mother Dorothy MacKay’s calls. We would hear her say, “Get off the line Maude.” Our home was heated with a wood stove and we had no indoor bathroom for a few of our early years. We had to go outside to the outhouse. When we were young we used a potty chair. We took baths in the laundry trays when very young and then in the shower that was in the utility room when we were older.
Our eating table folded down from the wall in the kitchen and revealed shelves with different condiments. My dad made oatmeal every weekday morning for the entire time we lived at home, but we got to make pancakes or waffles on weekends. Cold cereal was always a treat. Once in awhile my sister Rhoda and I would make “breakfast in bed” for our parents.
We listened to the radio while our mother would cut out quilt blocks from clothing that was worn out or remnants she bought at the Goodwill store or knit or crochets as she relaxed. Sometimes she worked a crossword puzzle or a jigsaw puzzle. It was before television was in our home and the kitchen was filled with quiet excitement as we listened to radio programs like “Gun Smoke”, “The Whistler”, “Fibber McGee and Molly”, “George Burns and Gracie Allen,” and “Our Miss Brooks” etc. while cleaning up after dinner.
We got our first TV in 1952, but we kids watched “Mr. Moon” at 4:00 at the neighbor’s house. This was a children’s program that had a man dressed up with a paper-mache head that looked like a moon. They showed cartoons and the sponsor was Alpenrose Dairy. One day the man who played the part of Mr. Moon thought he was off the air when he wasn’t and said, “That ought to take care of the little bastards.” The show was never on the air again. ** Ed: Urban myth, see Note at end. Angie confirms that they didn’t actually hear the remark.
We ate dinner at 5:00 each night. My dad was a carpenter before going to work at the school. He got home about 4:30, showered and dinner. The Mickey Mouse Club was on at that time, so we missed some of it. I especially wanted to see “Annette,” starring Annette Funicello. On Saturday mornings we were able to watch a few cartoons before beginning our chores. On Saturday evenings we had hamburgers, chips and 7-Up. We ate on TV trays while watching “Have Gun Will Travel.” On Sunday evenings we usually had popcorn and watched “Lassie” and “The Ed Sullivan Show”. I remember shows like, “The Lone Ranger”, “The Cisco Kid”, “Roy Rogers and Dale Evans”, “I love Lucy”, “I Married Joan”, “Mr. Ed”, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet” with Ricky Nelson, “The Honeymooners” and so many more.
We went to “The Crab Bowl” on Barber Blvd occasionally for fish and chips. This was always on a Friday, payday and was a special treat.
My mother did her shopping at Safeway in Tigard. One time Uncle Bob and the Squirrel Cage, a radio show, came to the store. It was a very big deal to us as my mother took all of the neighbor kids with us to see Uncle Bob.
On every birthday our names were announced on KEX which we listened to every morning during breakfast.
We three children enjoyed playing outside, anywhere, anytime and with no fear of being harmed. We especially enjoyed playing in the woods. There were three woods to play in that were near our home. There were the woods down by Fanno Creek that ran through the back of our property. We used to call it the “crick.” Usually we built bridges across the water, but it is very swampy. We caught frogs and lizards. We also caught tadpoles and watched them get legs. My brother liked to catch snakes.
All three of the woods were different. The one at the end of our dead end street had tall trees and was like the common Oregon woods with ferns and shrubs, perfect for building wooden lean-tos with fern coverings. These woods connected with the third woods by a narrow strip of wooded area behind Schisler’s house which was across the street from us. We could see the path where the railroad used to go through, between Washington Drive and 82nd Avenue where we lived. It was overgrown, but the evidence remained where a strip was cut out.
The third set of woods ran along-side of our road and was more than a block long. It wasn’t forested like the one at the end of the street. This property was owned by Mr. and Mrs. O’Donald. They were kind and let us play in the woods. Across the shallow ditch was a path that lead up to a huge tree stump. The stump was jagged, so it wasn’t useful for climbing on, but further along the path was a great huge tree stump, flat on the top. It was difficult to get up on because it was rather high, but we would make it up and stand on top feeling like we were on the top of the world. The rest of the woods were mostly underbrush, just good for hiding in.
My sister Rhoda and I were the only girls in our immediate neighborhood. We were outnumbered by the 3 boys in the neighborhood. Our brother Darrell, Steve Schisler, and sometimes Daryl McMullin whom we called Bub, would come down from Washington Drive. One time we girls put a box on our wagon like the seat on a stage coach. Our red wagon was the largest available at that time. The box was wooden as were most of the boxes during that time. We put our jewelry box filled with “precious” jewels under the box seat. One of us sat on the box while the other pulled the wagon down the “hole filled” road. Then all of a sudden the boys jumped out of the woods with cap guns drawn from their holsters. “Bang, bang,” they shoot into the air; their identity was hidden behind the scarves tied over their face, just like in the westerns we watched on TV. The boys held up the stage wagon and stole the strong-box. The girls screamed with fear as the boys escaped into the woods. You could often hear the phrase, “Let’s pretend that . . .” Pretending was fun and developed our imaginations.
Our dad built Rhoda and me a playhouse. It was a small one room house, just the right size for two little girls. As we stepped up the two steps, we entered the front door. We had a nice wooden floor, wooden walls and three nice sized windows, one on each of the remaining three walls. Curtains made from scrap material hung from the windows. As you looked at the room, the only furniture was a child’s metal table with the ABCs as a part of the table top and two small chairs. To the left was a double wooden box, hung on the wall in such a way as to enable us to stack our play dishes in it and on top of it, three shelves in all. Our baby dolls were tucked into their doll buggies taking a nap. We pretended our babies were ill and the nurse had to come and give them a shot in the buttocks. That was where most of their shots were given, but sometimes in their arms. Those poor babies had lots of holes poked in them. A few times the boys attacked our playhouse as boys will do.
Darrell built a “go cart” of sorts. No motor, just wheels, a place to sit and a rope attached to the wheels to turn with. We would sail down Taylors Ferry Road. Today, there is traffic on that road, but we seldom saw a car in those days.
A few times, when it was time for our dad to come home, we ran to the end of the road and waited for him. When he saw us he stopped and let us jump on the running boards and ride down the street, ever so slowly, on the outside of the car. What a treat.
Our parents went to an auction a few times. The next morning we kids were excited to see what they brought home. A phonograph with several 78 rpm records, a very tall stool, a small play clothes washing machine that plugged in and agitated our doll clothes and had a wringer that worked.
We had the most fun when some of our many cousins came over. We all gathered together and someone would eventually say, “Hey, let’s play . . .” and if there was an approving consensus we played; if not, we accepted another idea. Some of those ideas contained “Red Rover, Red Rover” and “Kick the Can”. Our favorite was “Hide and Seek” at night. Being out after dark was not a scary thing and our parents never worried. Other games we played were “What’s Your Trade?” or “Red Light, Green Light,” “Button, Button Whose Got the Button”, “Tag”, “Freeze tag”, “Jump the Can”, “20 Questions” among others. One of our cousins taught us all the song they called “Hand On Myself”.
We children picked the person to be “it” by saying ‘Eenie, meeny, miny mo.’ In later years we used ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’ as a means of elimination. We also played it as a game. The loser got his or her wrist smacked with two fingers from the winner. We found that if we licked our fingers before smacking the wrist, it hurt more. Sometimes our wrists got scarlet red. We also played “chicken” or “splits”. We played “chicken” by throwing a knife between a person’s legs seeing how close we could get. Each time the “victim” had to move one foot to where the knife landed and then it was his turn to throw the knife between the other person’s feet. The first one to quit was a “chicken.” Once Darrell had a knife thrown between his big toe and the second toe. He was lucky it didn’t stick into his foot. Splits was played seeing who could spread their legs the furthest by placing their foot where the knife lands on the outside of their feet, stretching a little at a time.
Our dad made stilts for us kids which we thoroughly enjoyed walking on. He made one set low to the ground and really tall ones that we needed to stand on a ladder to get onto them. It taught us great balance while having fun. He also made a tetherball. I liked to play at school and won more often than not. The winner got to stay and play the next classmate in line as long as they continue to win. Dad also hung a swing on a limb on the cherry tree that grew in the front yard. Rhoda and I used to rake the leaves in the fall and swing as high as we could and jump out into the leaves. The tree was also used for climbing.
Another fun past time was playing baseball in the street. Since it was a dead end road, cars seldom drove down the road, so there were no interruptions. First bounce or fly and work up were the games of choice with our limited number of players.
When it rained at school and before the new lunchroom was built, we went into the basement adjacent to the lunchroom and played, London Bridge, Hot & Cold, where one person is blindfolded and told to find a person or object by being told if they were hot (close to) or cold (far away from it). We had Four Square and tag and squat tag and freeze tag and the girls loved jump rope. In Gym we played prison ball and volleyball.
When we got to the eighth grade we could have the chance to go to all the rooms and pick up the lunch tickets and turn them into Mrs. Steele and Mrs. Norris. Our principal was Wayne Thurman. The Lucky Strike Cigarette Commercial was LSMFT “Lucky Strike Means Fine Tobacco.” Some smart student changed it to “Lord Save Me From Thurman.” Then Leonard Gustafson became the principal.
Our father Roderick MacKay was the Garden Home school custodian. When the school bought a school bus, he obtained his commercial driver’s license and drove the bus. He kept the bus in our driveway. We periodically cleaned the bus, inside and out. We kids used to play “Annie, Annie Over” over the bus. Before that, we played over the house.
My dad paid me $1 a week, on Fridays, to take a vacuum cleaner on my back and go to each classroom and vacuum the chalk holder and erasers. Some of the teachers were still in their rooms working so they all knew me. I also picked up the papers in the bathrooms. Some of my girl classmates thought it was cool that I got to go into the boys’ bathroom.
Not all of our lives were fun and play. When we were old enough, we helped around the house and yard. We always had a large garden; it covered approximately half an acre. One of our favorite things to do was to sit on the roller that Dad pulled behind his tractor. It smoothed the garden for planting. He would plow, disc, harrow, and then he had a large roller to level the ground. He wanted weight, so we kids provided it. We worked in the garden by helping plant and harvest.
We really loved it when we were able to have a bonfire and burn all of the underbrush and tree clippings. That meant wiener roast and roasted marshmallows. We cut our own sticks and whittled a point for the roasting.
We kids mowed the lawn, raked the leaves, and weeded the flower beds, picked up walnuts and filberts and picked apples, cherries and peaches from the orchard. We picked berries and helped preserve the food by canning and freezing. We had a large fruit room for storing all of our canned goods. Taking care of clean-up after dinner was also our job. This was good training for us girls in preparation for our own homes.
Besides the outdoors, we girls helped clean the house, dusting, cleaning windows, sweeping, mopping, cooking and when we were old enough ironing. I actually liked ironing and got paid ten cents for each piece when I ironed for the neighbor lady. I also babysat. I started out getting sixty-five cents an hour for babysitting and seventy-five cents after midnight.
All three of us learned to tap dance and Rhoda and I learned ballet. Darrell only took it a couple of years. He enjoyed building model cars and planes, while we girls played with our paper dolls.
We had three dogs over the years and several cats. We had rabbits and chickens for food. We butchered and plucked the chickens. Once we had a pig. One time we dared one another to run through the mud and climb up on the roof before the pig got us and then run back.
Darrell was in the Cub Scouts and we girls were in Blue birds and Campfire Girls. Our mother was always a leader. Then we got involved in 4-H: head, hands, heart and health. I still remember the pledge.
“I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service and my health to better living, for my club, my community, and my country.“
We girls learned sewing, cooking and knitting. I taught a bachelor cooking class when I was in high school.
My sister and I also played the clarinet. This is a photo of my eighth grade graduation. On stage was Gerry Johnson on the flute, me on the clarinet, Florence Dean on the clarinet, Warren Cook on the drums.
We used to sled on Florence Lane when we had enough snow. Our Dad used to also pull us down the road on our sleds, behind his tractor. We made snowmen and had snowball fights.
Off and on we attended Sunday school at the Methodist Church in Garden Home. Mrs. Whitney was my teacher at one time and I was thrilled when I was chosen to be Mary in the Christmas play.
I have many wonderful memories of growing up in Garden Home.
Angie MacKay Fredrickson
3360 Barrington Drive
West Linn, OR 97068
**Note: Thanks to Valley Times Editor Mikel Kelly who also listened to Mr. Moon. The “little bastards” comment seems to be an urban legend as noted by Wikipedia regarding a different character:
“For decades, a widespread rumor claimed that one night Uncle Don Carney had inadvertently spoken into an open mike, saying “There! That ought to hold the little bastards.” However, this has been debunked as untrue. The rumor was later resurrected in the 1950s, when an audio recording of the mistake turned up on a Kermit Schaefer Bloopers album, though this was later shown to be a fake recreation. Ultimately, this became attributed to later children’s shows as well.
This scenario, a host inadvertently talking into an open mike at the end of a live show, was used as a comeuppance for lead character Lonesome Rhodes in the fictional film drama, A Face in the Crowd. Amplifying the urban legend, a scene in that film shows two real Variety pressmen handling an issue of Variety with a headline comparing Rhodes to Uncle Don.”
Note by Elaine Shreve