I don’t remember a lot about our life in Pratt, Kansas, or in Memphis, Tennessee – just little scenes of our lives. Most of my memories start with my second-grade class in Morrison School. My life in Great Bend is remembered in two parts. The first part was grade school, when we rented a small, two-bedroom house at 19th and Van Buren.
Mom was one of those “traditional” stay-at-home moms. I don’t remember her wearing pants until I was probably in high school. Every day, she would get dressed – complete with girdle and hose. She’d fix her hair and put on her make-up and come through the living room and dining room, into the kitchen where she’d put on her apron to start the day in the little house.
She was an amazing cook. She fixed three meals a day. For breakfast, we’d have scrambled eggs and orange juice, for lunch we’d have a light meal – maybe a sandwich – with salad and desert, and for supper, we’d have the full meal deal – meat, vegetables (usually potatoes), fruit, and dessert. Dad was pretty much a “meat and potatoes” kind of guy. We seasoned our meals with salt and pepper. I didn’t discover spices and herbs until I got married and one of my wedding presents was a spice rack – complete with spices!
During the winter, around Christmas time, Mom would make cinnamon rolls. She would put together the dough and let it rise. She’d roll it out and pour melted butter onto the dough before sprinkling the cinnamon sugar all over it. If I was lucky, I’ve be home when she started rolling up the dough. The ends of the dough were always raggedy so she’d cut off the ends and she would eat one end and I’d get the other end. That was pure ambrosia! Until they were ready to be cooked, the pans of dough would go on top of the washer and dryer in our utility room.
Mom would decorate the house for every holiday. Dad always wanted a Christmas tree that needed to have the top cut off before it would fit into the house. Mom decorated that tree, and the rest of the house with poinsettias and bows and ribbons and pictures. The little house had a fake fireplace where the stockings were hung.
At Easter, we had eggs and bunny rabbits all over the house. You could pretty much tell which holiday was coming up by the decorations in the house.
We had a backyard that was surrounded by a wire fence. One day Mom decided that we needed to have a sand pile, so she called the local sand company and ordered sand. When she was asked if she wanted a yard of sand, she said a yard sounded pretty good. Mom was thinking a yard square – not a cube (1 yard by 1 yard by 1 yard). When Dad came home from work that day, he was surprised to see half of the back yard covered by sand. My brother and I were pretty excited to have this much sand, but Dad wasn’t as thrilled. That sand tended to meander out of its designated space so Dad had to water it each evening to make sure that it wouldn’t take over the whole backyard. That’s when it was especially fun! My brother and I could build castles and sculptures with the wet sand.
My brother was born in the little house and his crib was in Mom and Dad’s bedroom. When he got big enough to pull himself up and flip the light switch on and off during the night, the folks decided it was time to get a bigger house.
We moved into the big house when I was in sixth grade. They had just finished building Harrison Junior High a half block south of our new house. The new house had the washer and dryer in the basement so Mom couldn’t put the cinnamon rolls on top of them anymore. We lost our sand pile, too. We gained a lot when we moved into the big house, but I sure remember that little house with a lot of fondness!