PLaces I've lived: The Houses that Built Me
I think we lived in that little house behind the feed store a year or so until we bought a house at 725 Custer Avenue. It was an aqua blue, two bedroom, house with a bar in the basement (which Mom used to store her canned goods), and a finished room suitable to be a bedroom and a laundry area. The spacious back yard had a nice, built in brick barbecue and a cement kiddie pool that was about two feet deep, five feet long and three feet wide. Mom had room for a vegetable garden here and planted some fruit trees. I remember going to school one morning from the little house by the feed store and my sister, Sue picking me up at the end of the school day to take me to the new house. This house was right across the street from a railroad track and when the trains rolled by, thundering and whistling, the windows rattled! Bob graduated from High School and was drafted into the army while we were living here and both he and Sue got married while we were living there. Grandpa and Grandma Gatewood lived with us occasionally in that house. I remember Shirley having slumber parties here and I had a Halloween party there one year, with a haunted house in the basement. Shirley and I both babysat the four neighbor kids pretty often and had other babysitting jobs around town. She had a paper route for awhile that I helped with once in a while.
I had the chicken pox while we were living here.
Sue was pretty much on her own by then, but came to visit on weekends. I remember her boyfriend, Jerry, coming to pick her up one Sunday afternoon to take her back to where ever it was she lived then. He carried her suitcase for her and opened the car door and called our parents Mrs. Gatewood and Mr. Gatewood. I think they liked him a lot and were glad to see them get married. I also remember once riding in the car with Sue & Jerry, back when the headlight dimmer switch was on the floor, but I didn’t know that, yet. So I asked Jerry (who looked a lot like James Dean) “How does the car know to dim it’s lights when we meet another car?” He and Sue cracked up laughing and then he said, “It’s magic.” And then he proceeded to hit the dimmer switch about a dozen times so the lights were blinking and he and Sue kept laughing….
While we lived at 725 Custer Ave, our family grew with nieces and nephews. Actually, nieces and nephews started coming in 1958 and 1961, but they lived way a long ways away, so I didn’t get to know them very well until later on. We drove to Mississippi for a visit one Christmas and I think Denise and I managed to get into plenty of trouble together while we were there. One thing I recall about that visit was that their neighbors had a rooster and it seemed like it crowed all through the night.
Chantelle (1963) was the first local one to make an appearance and I remember her being a cute little blonde thing, full of energy and whenever they came for a visit, “Aunt Janell, can we go out and play?” I remember once we were all going somewhere with Mick and he let her ‘drive’ – she’d sit in his lap in the driver’s seat and he’d let her steer, which she did with wild abandon. We were going down the street past the fairgrounds in Oakland swerving crazily from one side of the road to the other, until Mom yelled, “MICK!!” and he took over and assisted with the steering, making the ride considerably less exciting. Chantelle’s sister, Tina came in 1967 and their family was living in Lincoln at that time. I remember going to see her for the first time. She was s-o-o-o-o TINY I thought TINA was the perfect name for her. We didn’t stay very long, as I recall, because her mom was exhausted. When Chantelle & Tina’s parents divorced, I (sadly) lost touch with them until recently, although Mom and I went to Lincoln to Tina’s wedding and both girls visited Mom as often as they could. She adored those girls, as she did all of her grandchildren. She said Tina and her husband were doing very well because they were a couple of DINKS – Double Income No Kids for a long time.
Cindy joined us in 1965 and her sister, Tammie in 1967. Both were born while their family was living in Oakland and their mom, Sue would come to Lyons to bowl once a week, so we got to watch the girls. I remember watching Dad tickling Cindy and saying, “Gitchy gitchy goo!” and she’d giggle like crazy. After Cindy started walking, she had to wear a brace on her feet for awhile to correct her from being pigeon toed. It was a flat bar attached to her shoes that held her feet pointed straight out. So she had to go back to crawling and she’d pull herself around on our living room floor, dragging that brace behind her from side to side. It must have worked, because I don’t think she’s pigeon toed now. I wonder if they still treat it that way? Cindy and Tammie both called me Aunt Nell, because Janell was too much of a mouthful.
Deb, Bob’s firstborn, came in 1966. She was born while he was in the Army, stationed in Germany, so he didn’t get to see her until she was a toddler, and he finally got to come home with his discharge papers. Deb was a rough and tumble little girl and a biter. I remember once they were visiting us and Deb tackled me by the ankles, knocking me belly down to the floor and crawled up and was biting me on the back. Bob and his wife thought it was hilarious. I didn’t really see the humor in it, myself.
The next one whose birth I remember clearly is Paulette (1968). I happened to answer the phone when her dad called to give us the news and as soon as I heard his voice, (recognizable by his thick southern accent) I shouted into the phone, “Did Myrna have her baby?” He answered, “She shore di-ud.” And then I think Mom demanded I had the phone over to her so she could get the details first hand. I don’t remember seeing Paulette until 1969, when Dad died and she and Myrna came up from MS for several days. I remember her being a beautiful, delicate little thing.
We all lost a little baby girl named Carol Ann who lived only 6 days in January of 1969. Going to her funeral was one of the saddest things I’ve ever had to do and the only time I ever saw my dad cry. She was Deb’s little sister.
Meanwhile, Mick was starting a second family with Shannon being born in 1971. So my parents had eight granddaughters and only one grandson. We went to Shannon’s Christening in Lincoln and she had the longest, dark hair I’d ever seen on a baby. She was really a precious, beautiful thing.
We finally got some more boys in the family when Deb’s brother, Brad was born in 1972. We got another boy when Sean was born in 1973. I think their family was living in another state when Sean was born.
Cindy and Tammie welcomed a brother, Joe, in 1972 who was born on what would have been Dad’s 60th birthday.
Dad died in 1969 while Shirley and I were both still at home. At some point after Shirl graduated in 1970, Mom sold the blue house and she and I moved into a trailor home.