The Ken Dickson family lived in the older two-story blue house on Oleson Road at Shirley Lane. Mr. T.E. Hills lived in this house, now 7730 SW Oleson Road, back in the early 1900s. His obituary says he lived in Garden Home from 1908 to 1941. He married a teacher, Emily Beebe and then in old age, married her sister who had lived with them.
(Mapes research and Mapes, Virginia: Garden Home – The Way It Was, 1980)
The Ken and Muriel Dickson family lived here from 1952 to 1975 and then moved to Scappoose, Oregon. Ken had suffered severe burns over much of his body in 1929 at the age of 16. He was burning earwig nests in his mother’s garden and accidentally spilled gasoline on himself. He lived an active, involved life in Garden Home.
Shirley Dickson recalls: When my parents moved into the house on Oleson Road, it was heated with a sawdust furnace. A few years later, that was replaced with natural gas. Dad did a lot of upgrading to the house, including moving the kitchen into the main part of the house from the entry room, which became the laundry room. He installed a picture window so Mom could do her bird watching when she was in the kitchen. The carpeting in the living room was replaced with linoleum tiles; the picture window in the living room was replaced because there was a hole in one of the upper corners; the stairway to the third floor was turned and the landing taken out so that Dad could set up his ham radio. (He used to test the boy scouts so they could get their Morse code merit badges.) The ceiling in the kitchen was lowered from 10 feet to 8 feet. He built shelving and closets. I don’t think he ever quite completed the remodeling.
Unfortunately, the picture window in the living room not only gave Mom a view of the children on their way to school, it also gave us a view of the deaths of several neighborhood pets on Oleson Road. The neighborhood children sometimes played in what we called ‘the field,” the empty lot(s) past the Tate house, between Shirley Lane and Mayo Street.
Family: My older sister was born in 1948, and my brother in 1950 and our younger sister in1956. My parents bought the house in 1952, and moved in in March, about six months before I was born in 1952. The claim is that my name was chosen before they moved, and I take them at their word that I was not named after the lane. I later discovered that Dad’s senior class advisor was named Shirley, and I like to think that that is where I got my name. My middle name was for my father’s Aunt Ann, who died just four weeks before I was born. They lived there until 1975, when they moved to the property they had purchased near Scappoose. My cousin now lives in the house. His father (a first cousin) bought it from Mom and Dad; I’m not sure how the son ended up with it.
The Tates lived next to us on Shirley Lane, which was named after Shirley Johnson, whose sister had once been first runner-up to Miss America. [Ed: see Dorothy Johnson] As you probably know, Toad Tate was killed in Viet Nam. The bell tower at the United Methodist Church was dedicated to his memory.
Neighbors: The Wengers lived across Shirley Lane from us at 7680 SW Oleson Road. Mr. Wenger worked with his father, Vern L. Wenger, selling and repairing televisions. They probably started with radios, but that was before my time. Their daughter, who was a few months older than me, was my favorite playmate, and we also played with the Rohrer girl who was a year or two younger. The Wenger’s son, who was two years younger than his sister, was also a playmate. The Wenger girl and I played with our little plastic horse herds. As we grew older, we rode our bikes up and down Shirley Lane, and played with hula hoops. On hot summer days, we ran through the sprinkler at the Wenger’s house.
The Farrells lived across Shirley Lane from the Tates. I think those were all the houses on Shirley Lane when my parents first moved there. The Farrells moved away when I was in grade school, and the Roggis (?) moved in. A house was built about that time next to the Roggi’s house, and the Rohrers moved in. The oldest Roggi child was the same age as my younger sister. They eventually had six children.
The Farishes lived across Olsen Road, and my brother played with their sons. Most of the mothers and fathers worked, so the children were at home alone. My parents didn’t like us being at the neighbor’s houses when the parents weren’t home, so neighborhood children often ended up at our house. We played a lot of tag, especially freeze-tag. We also had a sand box and a swing set. It was the largest yard in the neighborhood.
The McGuires lived between the Wengers and the Stevens. I remember that the Steven’s house was set well back from the street. I guess they had an extra lot. There was a weeping willow in their yard near the street. Their yard was often flooded when it rained. My father was a technician, first at KPFM, then KQFM, and finally moving to television, KATU and KGW. For most of those years he worked in the West Hills near Council Crest. Mom was a stay-at-home mom.
School: We all went to Garden Home School. I went for six years, then three years at Whitford Junior High. The neighborhood children all walked to school. Mom would watch us from the big picture window that faces Oleson Road. When I was in first grade, I dearly wanted to have the smiling second-grade teacher as my teacher. Unfortunately, I also wanted to be in Mrs. Munson’s class, because my older sister and brother had both had her as their second grade teacher. I was so pleased to find that the smiling teacher WAS Mrs. Munson!
Garden: Probably the things I miss most are the fresh fruits and vegetables. My parents also had an extra lot (there is a house there now, again, heartbreaking) where my father grew lettuce, carrots, green beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, squash. There were also filbert and walnut trees and several apple and pear trees. We had strawberries, logan berries, raspberries, nectar berries, and Thompson grapes. Dad eventually cut down the crab-apple tree, but left the two cherry trees – one Lambert and the other Bing. In the corner of the croquet yard, at the edge of the two lots, there was a mulberry tree. The cedar waxwings ate most of them. The fig tree that was in the back yard was cut down by my cousin’s wife (the mother of the current owner) when they first moved in. My mother and my older sister were the only ones in our family who ate the figs.
At a certain age, we children each got a section of the garden in which to plant our own crop. My two sisters both grew corn, I chose potatoes. After helping with the harvesting, we spent a lot of time snapping beans, peeling and cutting apples, and otherwise helping Mom with her canning.
During the gas rationing of the 1970s, the lines form the gas stations at the corner of Garden Home and Oleson roads (there were three stations for a while) would reach our house and beyond. If it was our day to be able to get gas, we would wait for the line to get small before we joined it!
I am excited that you are doing this history project. Unfortunately, when we were younger, many of the children called the area Garbage Hole. You know how cruel children are. Anyway, I am proud to tell people that I grew up in Garden Home!
June Dickson Taylor remembers:
My father, Ken Dickson, was the softball coach for GH United Methodist Church co-ed softball team. He coached off and on and it seems like he did it forever. My oldest sister Elaine played, brother Charley played, sister Shirley played and I played. Our home field was the GH school playground lot and the field was oriented differently than it is now. I played from1971 to 1974. Elaine started softball probably in 1962. She graduated high school in 1966. In our family she was the only one to actually “graduate” from GH. My brother was two years younger and went to 7th grade at GH then on to Whitford. We sold it to to our cousins so in our family we call it the Dickson Homestead. We moved there in 1952. After all the kids moved out, my parents moved to a house they built in Scappoose.