My father came into the house one day and told mother he just couldn’t take the heat anymore. He had been gassed in WWII and only had one lung left. Before they met he had lived in Seattle and thought that would be a good place to go.
While working on the bridge to West Seattle, a timber fell and Father was home with a broken leg. Jack was born and I had to have my tonsils out. There was no medical insurance of course. Mother had thick, very long red hair. Rent and grocery money was needed. While daddy was home to watch us children, mother left to get a few groceries. When she got home, she handed him some money. She’d sold her hair.
That fall my oldest brother, Don, got sick. He had polio. Mother had been reading about Sister Kenney and she said it made sense to her. Even though she was still nursing Jack, she kept hot packs on Don. He got over the polio but had leakage of the heart, which they didn’t know at the time.
In the spring, I was going on 7 and in the first grade. Mother said I could ask a few kids to come Saturday afternoon to help eat my birthday cake. We live nine blocks from Lafayette School. I stopped at every house on one side of the street going and the other side of the street coming home. I made sure to tell them absolutely no presents. Just come, play and eat the cake.
About 12:30 they started to come. Mother said she lost count after twenty! They ate the cake, the pies she’d baked for Sunday and the cookies for the next week’s lunches.
There was a big field in back of our house with a huge pile of clippings from pruning our and a neighbor’s fruit trees. Daddy and Mr. Johnson, the neighbor, burned it and when there were just coals, daddy put in potatoes and apples. I can still remember the wonderful smell. Everybody had roasted potatoes and apples. Going home they said it was the best party they’d ever had.
Another Christmas came and went. I was in the third grade. We had deep snow and on January 7, 1930, my dad dropped dead while waiting for the streetcar. That was the end of an era and the depression went on worse than ever. Looking back at this difficult period of time, I think we all learned how to survive and gained confidence in our ability to make better lives for ourselves.