Butterfly on Abelia, 2009
Although I am unsure of the exact date, but probably in the summer of 1942, we moved to Albuquerque after my father went to Grand Junction, CO. Other than remembering that we came on the Trailways bus, I don't remember anything about the trip, nor of moving into the furnished house at 706 N. Second St. (now disappeared forever, along with many blocks surrounding it, to make way for big banks and other commercial buildings.) The address, 706, placed the corner lot on which the red brick house stood at seven blocks north of Central Avenue, or Route 66, which was the "Main Street" of Albuquerque. Mama's place of employment was also on Second Street, probably in about the 300 block, so it was very well placed so that she could walk to and from work.
About all I remember of the house itself was that it had a few steps leading up to an open front porch, a living room which contained a piano (to our delight), probably a couple of bedrooms (although I remember only one), a kitchen, bathroom, and back porch.
The bedroom that I remember contained a brass bed with a tall headboard. That bed is where I spent a great many days during my "Childhood Illness" about which I wrote at length last year.
My memories of "706" are somewhat limited, probably due to my being so sick most of the time we lived there. But, I wasn't sick the entire time, and the memory butterflies have left me with a few snapshots.
At some time after moving from Las Vegas, we must have acquired a "wringer" washing machine, which was housed on the back porch. I was too young to participate in the laundry process, other than probably hauling dirty clothes to the machine, but I do remember that I was fascinated by the wringer. So much so that, at age 8, I considered it an appropriate instrument of punishment for the younger sister who simply would not mind me when I told her to do something. This torture (as she now describes it), which was applied only once, was to have her hand and arm inserted into the turning wringer until she agreed to comply. I thought it was a dandy way to bring about cooperation, but she squealed on me, and my mother applied suitable persuasion upon another region of my body, which compelled me to abandon the practice.
It was in the yard of this home that I first explored smoking. Real tobacco not being available in our house, my friend Helen and I discovered that Rabbit Tobacco, which grew in profusion, could be picked, dried, crumbled and rolled up in toilet paper to create a substitute cigarette. This practice was not long continued because my father, upon one of his visits to Albuquerque from Colorado, caught us.
Another memory is of my mother's "Jewel Tea" dishes. Jewel Tea dishes were a free gift, or at least of very low cost, that came with the purchase of Watkins products, such as vanilla, spices, and other food stuffs. Watkins products were personally delivered to one's home by "the Watkins Man" who drove a small commercial van with "Watkins" emblazoned on the side. I suppose Mama had been buying Watkins products for some time, for she had quite a collection of Jewel Tea "Autumn Leaf" dishes, probably a service for six. The dishes were glazed pottery, with red, brown, orange and gold designs. I understand that they are quite "collectible" these days. We used the Jewel Tea dishes on Sundays; I don't remember any other dishes, although we must have had them.
Example of "Jewel Tea" ware
On one fateful Sunday afternoon, Mama had washed the Jewel Tea dishes that had been used for dinner, as the noon meal was called in our household, and as she dried them, had placed them on the "drop leaf" kitchen table prior to putting them away in china cabinet. Said table had the leaf extended and the leg to support the raised leaf was in place. Younger sister, full of energy from lunch, was running through the house at breakneck speed, probably being chased by yours truly, and was just short enough to run under the table in her getaway efforts. She ran under the table, all right, knocked the supporting leg from under the leaf and all the Jewel Tea dishes came crashing to the floor. There may have been one or two surviving pieces, but that was it. For all intents and purposes, Mama's hard won collection of Jewel Tea dishes was gone, gone, gone!
Same sister had a penchant for playing with Mama's dishes, some of which, I learned later, were wedding presents. At least two pieces that I remember suffered disaster at my sister's hands -- a platinum banded stemmed compote, and a peach-colored crystal sugar bowl. She maintains to this day no memory of these occurrences, but I do!
Another thing I remember was a huge fire at a lumber yard which was located perhaps 6 blocks from the house. The fire started after dark, and I recall standing outside in the front yard, hearing the fire truck sirens, smelling burning wood, and watching burning embers and smoke shooting into the sky. The lumber yard was completely destroyed, and the fire believed to be arson.
One last memory before I wrap this segment up. After my "illness" I was occasionally allowed to walk my sisters and baby brother, who was about 2 years old, to the neighborhood park. about three blocks away. Exposure to sunshine was deemed to be a contributor to my recovery. It was on one of these excursions that I found, lying next to a trash barrel, a copy of "Sunshine and Health" magazine, which had some very interesting photos in it. Turns out it was a nudist publication. I took it home with me, where it promptly disappeared.
It's funny what one remembers.
We moved from "706" to 607 N. Second during the summer of 1943, before I entered the third grade. The new house was somewhat larger, and it was closer to Mama's workplace. We lived there for over two years, and I have lots of memories of that place to share.
Until next time, I leave you with a few more 2010 lily photos.