Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Enid Avenue: Vancouver 1963

When we moved to Washington--to Vancouver along the Columbia River--my father bought a brand new house on Enid Avenue. It was a new subdivision with some established homes and some empty lots and some homes under construction. These were the typical 1950s ranch-like tract style homes: one story, three bedrooms, one and a half baths, a spacious yard. It was located a few blocks from a grade school and George C. Marshall High (or maybe my school was called george C. Marshall and maybe the high school was a junior--or middle--high school). So, we walked to school when the time came.
But when we first moved in, we had no furniture. The government paid for the move, via Mayflower Van Lines, and our stuff was like a week or so behind us. I think it was in storage back in South Dakota, until my father found and bought a house. So, my parents went out and bought a rug. Yes, a big round living room rug. One of those, what I think are called, braided rugs. It was oval shaped and almost multi-colored and it went down in the living room, on the hardwood flooring. And then we got blankets and pillows or maybe we'd brought those with us. And that first week or so, we all slept on the new rug in the living room with blankets.
I think there was a fireplace.
The yard held no grass, only weeds, though there was one big adult maple tree in the back. Which quickly became home to a tree house--or the fort--with cut two-by-four ladder steps and an open platform where the branches forked. I recall we helped Father with the yard. It was full of tall weeds and grasses--wildflowers--our lot and the unsold one on our right (or left, depending on where you were standing). So, we picked weeds. For a long time, we cleared the yards. When it was bare, Father found that it was very rocky--as most western soils are. So, he'd spend weekends digging up the ground and would pay us--I don't remember how much, not much--to pick out the big rocks and pile them in the back yard (where, eventually, he made a terraced flower garden, that held maybe some veggies too) and he then seeded the yard and grew his grass. He loved grass. He loved trees and flowering plants, too. So, over time, we had a very full yard of trees and plants with swaths of tended grass. And in Washington--unlike South Dakota--things pretty much stayed green year round. Washington was like Hawaii compared to South Dakota. (I remember we had a snow day once or twice--school cancelled--but it was only a dusting of snow and we were all incredulous that they would cancel because of it, I mean, it wasn't even sticking to the pavement! In Sioux Falls I can recall walking to Kindergarten along towering drifts of piled snow along the sidewalks--yes, I was a little kid, but there was still tons of snow everywhere.)
So, on Enid Avenue in Vancouver, Washington in the early 60s, we started anew in a house pretty much from scratch. There were some other kids and more moved in and soon we had a true neighborhood with all the magic and drama and roustabouting that a good childhood entails. We all liked it. We'd lay in the grass my father had planted and watch clouds, watch the acrobatic seagulls wheel in the sky. We had the tree fort and a huge sand box (the sand came from the banks of the Columbia, where Father would take us to fill the sacks) (the sandbox was a central gathering point for all our childhood endeavors) and the famous swing set. The swing set had no swings. Oh, it'd had swings at one time, but we'd broken most of them and, anyway, we'd come to prefer it without them because then it was just one long, high metal pole and the smaller side-brace poles and we'd climb them like monkey bars and do all sorts of things on the set that we wouldn't/couldn't do if it had had swings.
And when I think of childhood--true childhood full of fun and semi-innocence and long days and longer summers--it's my life in Vancouver that comes to mind.
We had a happy family, I believe. And we all liked the northwest--the climate and weather, the mountains (on clear days we'd count them, name them, those big volcanic cylinders with snowy tops: Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Baker, the Three Sisters and more) we loved the river and Portland and the big Pacific beaches and the ocean--and, years later, it was quite the shock when we moved to Tennessee. But, that's a different memory.
Enid Avenue in Vancouver? Those were good childhood times.

No comments: