Our house started out as a dump, but it was ours
A trumpet vine was growing up the side of the house where bright orange blossoms bloomed. It was ours!
We moved from Sacramento Avenue to what was Florence Avenue at the time, but which soon became Dunsmuir Avenue after the freeway was finished and they renamed the street.
My dad was working the hostler, which was to park engines from trains and be ready to hook them up to the incoming trains when needed. He said he could help us move until 4, when he had to go to work.
I remember my sister and me carrying armfuls of stuff up the hill to our new house. We were a 6 and 8 and a little disjointed when the cars and pickups would drive right by us and wave as they made the quick two-block trip, unload and come back for more. But we were helping.
I don’t think it was our first choice. But that was the way it was. We didn’t own a wagon, but one would have come in handy about then, cause we could have ridden down the hill.
Anyway, the day wore on, and dad had to go to work. And because my folks were frugal, (and also because there was no such thing as takeout in Dunsmuir, except for Motto’s, which was saved for a dine-in special treat only) my mother had to stop everything and make Dad something to eat. Good thing, because my sister and I were pooped. So we hung out on our new front porch while my dad ate.
Now for this to happen, my mother had to be prepared with a complete kitchen and full refrigerator at her fingertips. Which, for my mother, wasn’t a problem. She has always been a gifted planner-aheader. So he left with a full stomach, and my mother went on with things, her hands quite full, with a house full of bags, boxes and various piles of miscellaneous stuff. Which turned out to be no hill for a climber like she has always proven to be, because when my dad came home at midnight, she had pretty much settled in, decorated, and had everything under control.
We were in our clean beds as she met him at the door. This was 1959, and they had been married 9 years, but she still had the ability to dazzle my dad, and he was dazzled!
He teasingly asked us how it felt to sleep so high off the ground, because the house had three stories. And we said yea. It was really different!
Our new house probably cost less than $5,000. Even by 1959 standards, it probably would have been classified as a dump. But my folks were very resourceful, and so the remodeling began and continued throughout my whole childhood.
I came home one day and the wallpaper in our bedroom was torn off. That was the beginning, and each day after that would bring some sort of progress, I guess. It seemed really slow to happen at the time. But eventually, after Cosentino kitchen cabinets, things took shape. We all participated.
One time my dad found a burned-down house and got all of the bricks for free. They were going to veneer the outside of our house up to floor level when they had enough bricks, which would take years and lots of chimneys, as it turned out. All we had to do was load them, bring them home, haul them up to our backyard for storage, clean them and stack them. OK, nothing’s free.
My sister and I borrowed a wagon (we were thinking that day!) from somebody, and our mom helped us load them into it, and we would pull the wagon where she would meet us in the backyard so they could clean and stack them. I remember how much fun we had riding down the hill in the wagon back to the pickup — the only fun of the day. But we all helped.
My parents set wonderful examples. We learned to contribute. My childhood is a kiss in time, thanks to them and their love. My appreciation of their fundamental foundations they taught us is unending. Time has no dominion over their devotion. I am, and always have been loved. I will be forever comforted by that.
Marilyn White lives in Medford.
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