Places I’ve lived
Miranda Lambert's song The House That Built Me inspired me to record my memories of the places I've lived.
Here is Part One
When I was born in 1955, my family lived on a farm on Highway 51 a few miles east of Decatur, Nebraska. The house is right next door to the A T & T tower. I’m not sure when the tower was built, but I don’t think it was there when our family lived there. My siblings went to school at a nearby country school house called Edgington. If my sisters check in on this post, maybe they can tell more about that place. Did Shirley go to Kindergarten at Edgington? My dad’s sister and her family lived on a farm nearby and my sisters tell stories of our cousins, Paul D. and Jim coming over to play, hiding buried treasure in the woods. My brother told me about horseback riding with them and how Dad never used a stirrup to mount his horse – he’d grab the saddle horn and swing himself up and over to get on.
When I was two years old, we moved to a farm 2-3 miles north of Lyons, Nebraska. I don’t remember this, but Mom once told me that I cried and begged to “go home” the first night we stayed at our new home. I’m trying to imagine what a monstrous job it must have been to move this family in 1957 or so. There were six of us kids by then, ranging in age from two (me) to the eldest at 16. And now I’m wondering about all the farm machinery and livestock that must have been involved in addition to the household goods and possessions? OK, Sue? Myrna? Shirley? Got any details to add?
I have a few memories of living at this place in the Jefferson neighborhood – it is now occupied by Dwight Long. We bought it from Mom’s parents. I remember once I was with Mom in the chicken house and a small airplane buzzed over us. The roar of it scared me silly and I remember running into the chicken house and grabbing hold of Mom. It may have been our cousin Joe Gatewood, who did some flying for an insurance company and happened to be in the neighborhood, so he buzzed us. He became a pilot in the military and before he shipped out to Germany in 1944 or so, he flew up and buzzed Decatur. I also remember that we had a mean rooster for a time and I wasn’t allowed to go outside of our fenced in yard by myself. I was very ill the winter that I turned 4 with whooping cough. We went to see Dr. Tibbles so often that year and I had a navy blue sweater that I called my “doctor sweater” because I wore it every time we went to see him.
We didn’t have any horses when we lived on this place. I remember a dog named Lassie, who must have gotten exposed to rabies because we had to keep her tied up for a certain amount of time, after which she must have come down with the disease and had to be shot. I remember Bob bringing her into the yard so I could pet her a few times during her confinement. We also had a black and white sheepdog type of mutt we called Sport. I wonder where we got our dogs? Probably from a neighbor? Dad milked cows and farmed on this place. I think we also had some pigs. Mom had chickens, both laying hens and meat birds. Mom also took a job at Campbell Soup in Fremont while we were living here. I was sent to a babysitter in town, Mrs. Davis. I would ride in with my sibs and they dropped me off on their way to school. They must have picked me up to take me home, as well, though I remember Mom picking me up some times. One morning, I told my brother I was supposed to go to Grandma Anderson’s instead of the babysitter’s. I must have been a pretty good liar, because he believed me and left me there. Mom wasn’t too happy about that. Grandma was too old and frail to be a fill in babysitter for a (naughty) 4 year old. We were still living on the place north of Lyons when I started school a mile or so away at Jefferson. I learned to read using the Dick & Jane readers. The first word I learned was “Look.” And the page featured a picture of Sally putting on Dick’s galoshes, which were w-a-a-ay too big for her. Why do you suppose I remember that?
In the middle of my second grade year, (1962) we moved to a little house in the town of Lyons, right behind a feed and seed store. I think Dad went to work at the local creamery then. By that time, I think there may have only been three or four of us kids still at home. My brother, Bob and my sister, Shirl and me. Brother Mick got married and started his family around this time, which included a puppy named Chiefery. Sue had graduated high school and was off to the Lincoln School of Commerce. Myrna was an air force wife living in Colorado and then Mississippi and Hawaii, but those are her stories.
Being in town meant I could walk everywhere: to school every morning; to the swimming pool in the summers and to children’s choir practice at the Methodist church once a week. I don’t remember the address of this house, but we always got our mail at PO Box 338. Until they built the new post office when our new PO Box # was 165. When I was in 3rd or 4th grade, Mom taught my Sunday School class. I also joined a 4-H club when I turned 8 and learned how to cook, bake and sew from a lady named Nell Hightree. I don’t think I stayed in it very long, because I didn’t like getting things ready for the county fair every year and I really hated the fashion show, where we had to model something that we sewed. I always thought the things I sewed or baked or cooked weren’t as good as everyone else’s and I didn’t really want to put them on display.
I had the measles while we were living in this house. It might have been in the summer time, as I remember being very hot for a very long time.