S: Margaret Brookes Steen Day Volume 1
FC: Margaret Brook Steen Day A Lifetime of Memories | Margaret (Peggy) Brookes Steen Day
1: In Celebration of Ninety Years of a Full and Rich Life Margaret Brookes Steen Day June 28, 1921
2: I know I have told you many times about “When I was young this is the way it was—“ and I am sure most of the time you were all bored to death and shut me out as much as you could. But shut me out or not, here I go again – maybe some of this will be new to you.
3: I was born in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, and the reason we were there is because my father was in the Navy and happened to be stationed there at the time.
4: I was only about 6 months old when we came back to the mainland, and that was because my father contacted TB. We were in Brooklyn for a short period of time and then they sent my father to Fitzsimmons Hospital in Denver, Colorado, to recuperate. You realize I don’t remember a thing about this.
5: I am very vague on this but think my Dad was still in the Navy and working— maybe he was in remission after his treatment in Denver, I don’t know. (I was still a baby, you see) | At this time my father was sent to Ft. Lyon to work. I think then Ft. Lyon was still a Naval Hospital for TB patients and he was there also working. During that period of time Colorado was where people went to recover from TB—they thought sunshine and rest did the trick.
6: Another thing was getting a diphtheria shot—I thought they put me up on an ironing board to give me the shot and I think now it was probably an examining table but my child's eye didn’t see it that way. | I remember very little about Ft. Lyon this time around—a couple of things I remember vividly was driving to Lamar in an old open touring car and it just took us FOREVER to make the trip and it was hot and dusty.
7: Now Betsy, Sis, and Brother have wonderful memories of this period of their lives as they were older—Jr. and Sr. High School and they just had a wonderful time as we were in a small, gated private community and they had a lot of freedom. Ft. Lyon did not have their own schools so the children were bussed into Las Animas (about 7 miles away) to their schools
8: In 3-4 years time we moved back to Denver—I am guessing it was because my Father’s TB did not get better but he was again working at Fitzsimons while we lived out in University Park by the end of the old No. 8 trolley line across from University Park itself. | My father drove to the hospital across country roads to get to Fitzsimmons (it was waaaay out in the country)—today that area is completely built up and only takes 15 minutes or so to drive by freeway!
9: I remember a couple of things from that house—I went to kindergarten from that house and used to walk home with my “boyfriend” whose father owned the local drug store. He was always bringing me candy from his father’s drugstore—you know the cheap stuff like gum and jaw breakers. It was behind a bush in the park that I got my first kiss!—another memory is my mother enrolling me in an “elocution class” which was memorizing poems or sayings and getting up in front of an audience and reciting them. If my memory serves me right I was terrible at it and REALLY hated it. I was terribly shy and am sure it was done to get me over my shyness and might have worked if I had continued it.
10: We soon moved to another house about two blocks away on Milwaukee St. –right across from the observatory in University Park. My brother was going to DU at the time and I can remember him coming to my school and carrying me home on his shoulders. I was a big first grader then and thought that was really special.
11: I remember being so impressed with school because we had big blocks to play with—I mean these blocks were like a foot long and we could really build houses we could get into—it was neat. In this house we had a parrot. We always rented our houses and one of the conditions of this house was the parrot went with it. It was a mean parrot and would reach out and try to bite you. Every morning when Mom would come into the kitchen she would say “Good Morning, Polly” and the parrot would say “Good Morning” and the parrot bit her good. After that the parrot disappeared and I guess I was too little to question what happened to poor old Polly. Two other pets we had at this time were Guinea Hens that had the full use of our back yard. Their names were Side and By Side (after the song you know). I don’t remember whether they became a Sunday dinner or not but they were very tame and the family loved them, so think they might not have, but don’t know for sure about those things.
12: At this time I think my father retired from the Navy and for a short period of time we moved to Sterling, Colorado, where he tried his hand at selling insurance. Apparently, he was not too good at it because we soon moved again—to Lamar, Colorado, where my father was the first administrator of a brand new hospital that had been built for the Arkansas Valley. This is where my memory really takes hold. I loved him being connected with the hospital and he would call me if there was going to be an operation so I could go stand in the operating room. Now you realize this was before they thought too much about germs or sterilization or any of that other good stuff and today something like that would be unheard of, but then I loved it and it was also something to brag about!!!
13: The first house we moved into in Lamar was right behind the courthouse. (the house is no longer there), but on the opposite corner was the schoolhouse and I was in the 1st or 2nd grade when we moved there.
14: Those were the days when teachers ruled supreme and if you didn’t do as they wished you got a whack with a ruler which they carried in their hands at all times. I got whacked quite a lot – mostly because I wouldn’t keep my wrist flat on the table during penmanship. One of the drills we used to have in penmanship was they would put a piece of candy on your wrist and give you a bunch of stuff to write. If you could finish the writing with the candy still on your wrist you could eat the candy. I seldom got to eat my candy – despite their efforts my handwriting is atrocious still. During this time our school caught on fire while school was in session—it was winter and very cold. The teachers herded all the kids outside without their coats and then went back in and started throwing coats out to us. By the time we got our coats we were all so cold and since we lived so close to the school I invited all the kids to my house to get warm. WEEEELLLLLL!!!!!!! My mother had just finished putting a mud pack on her face when I started pounding on the door to let us in with this horde of kids. She didn’t soon forgive me.
15: The most exciting thing that happened at this time was the building of the new school. We were going to Old Central and it was really old and decrepit (how old could it have been in the late 20’s?) | but they were building a new school several blocks away to be called New Central. Before New Central was finished I did go to Pioneer School for a few months. Old Central went through 3rd grade and then Pioneer went through the 6th grade. Both schools were fire traps and in bad condition so they built this really nice brick school that is still being used today. Dad and I both went to school there the first day it opened.
16: We did a lot of moving—I’m not sure why but in Lamar we lived in a lot of different houses. Each house has it’s own story. We lived in a house that was next door to the girl that was the talk of the town. RUMOR was that she would stand naked in her bedroom window if boys came by. I never saw her and to my knowledge no one else ever saw her, but she was the talk of the town and everyone knew where she lived! I only had to say I lived next door to Betty Rose and everyone knew where to find me
17: BETTY ROSE MORRIS was born January 2, 1920 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, the daughter of the late Jesse Edwin Rose and Lottie Alice (Wright) Rose. She was raised and received her education in the Lamar, Colorado community. Following her high school graduation with the Class of Union High of 1938 she attended the Denver University in Denver, Colorado, having received a degree in Liberal Arts. She was united in marriage to Robert Russel Morris on July 10, 1942. Following their marriage they resided in the Denver, Colorado community. She followed her military husband before her children were born. After a divorce in 1969, Betty moved to Portland, Oregon to live near her daughter and son-in-law. By 1974 she was blessed with two granddaughters. The family moved to Texas in 1980 where Betty worked for State Mutual Insurance Company and volunteered at the Botanical Gardens. Upon returning to Portland in 1987 she worked at the Hilton Hotel ~ International Club office and volunteered at Children Trust Fund. She was a member of the Astrology and Bonsai Society, the Senior Studies Institute, and a Gamma Phi Bata Alumni. Among her special interests she enjoyed being a homemaker and a scout leader for her daughter. She also enjoyed family swimming, golfing, skiing, attending sporting events and traveling.
18: Another house we lived in was in Paseo Place which was a very nice part of town. We probably lived in that house the longest of all the houses. It was in this house I used to listen to the radio and think that the people talking were little people inside the radio – don’t laugh, I was very naive. | Another house my father had an old car with no wheels delivered to the house and it was my playhouse. I had a lot of good times playing everything in that old car. It was a two seater and could be my house, my car, or whatever I wanted. I have no idea where he got the car or why he even thought of me being able to use it as a playhouse but am sure glad he did. Lots of hours of enjoyment were spent in that car
19: The last house I remember in Lamar was what we called “across the tracks”. It was north of the Railroad tracks about a block and this was in the days of the “Bonus Army” where all the WWI soldiers were going to Washington to try and get a Bonus for fighting in the war. It was deep in the depression and no money so the men “rode the rails”. They would get off the trains and come looking for food. They didn’t want a handout – they would offer to work for food and I really don’t remember my mother turning one of them away. We got a lot of them in this house as we were so close to the tracks.
20: Now by this time Brother had graduated from DU and was living in Arizona and working for the Park Service. Sis had married Ty and Betsy had married Vernon Banta. Dad got a job back at Ft. Lyon as the Registrar and Mom, Dad and I moved to Ft. Lyon. This was my time at Ft. Lyon and I had just as much fun and freedom as the rest of the kids had had earlier.
22: The Fort kids all stuck together as there were not huge quantities of us plus we had to ride the school bus together etc., so we were thrown together a lot. We had so much fun, and in the summer time we would have these great games of Hide and Go Seek, Kick the Can, and Follow the Arrow. I have never heard anyone playing Follow the Arrow except at Ft. Lyon, but you would have two teams and one would get a head start of 5-10 minutes of the other team and they would draw arrows out of chalk on the sidewalk.
23: When you made a turn you made the arrow turn and the other team had to follow the arrows to find you. When you got to near where you wanted to hide you would draw a bulls eye and you had to hide within 25 feet of the bulls eye. One night we were going to be really funny and we took the arrows down by the morgue. It was down in a very secluded, dark, quiet area and all of us were scared of it but we hid there and waited for the other team. Well, we waited and waited for what seemed like forever before we finally came out and the team was waiting by the bulls eye – they suspected where we went and wouldn’t go down there. That was the last time we hid by the morgue. In these games were all ages of kids and no discrimination – we just all got together and played.
24: In this house I had a pet pigeon. I had found it when it was a baby – it had fallen out of it’s nest and maybe it had broken it’s wing. I don’t know, but it would follow me around all the time and never would try to fly. I would put it up on the clothes line and it would fly down from that but would never fly away. It was so tame and everyone adored “White-Tippy”, it’s name because it’s wings had white on the tips of them. That was during th days of the grocery stores delivering your groceries and one day the grocery truck ran over “White-Tippy”. I don’t know who was more upset, me or the driver.
25: My father was getting sick during this time, but I really wasn’t aware of it until he had to quit work and then he was hospitalized. Mom and I had to give up our housing on the Fort and we moved into Las Animas until Dad died a short time later. It was devastating to me to lose my father at such a young age and he always had time for me. I have nothing but good memories of him
28: Mom and I had to do something so we went back to Lamar to be near Sis and Ty. We rented an apartment in the Norjune Apartments – very small apartments with two rooms and the bathroom was in the hall and we shared it with another apartment. During this time my best friend was Ginny Francis. She was born with two slits for her eyes and she did look strange to most people, but I didn’t notice she looked any different. We had hours of fun playing paper dolls on the steps of the apartment. She had a couple of brother’s that were quite good football players, one played for CU and the other for Nebraska. Didn’t impress me as I didn’t know anything about football.
29: It was during this time that I joined Rainbow. I would walk to the meetings which were 4-5 blocks away and when they were over, I would walk home. Things were much safer in those day and no one thought about anything happening. You didn’t go near the “bad” neighborhoods, but things were pretty free and easy in the growing up department. We moved to the Sweet Home Apartments – they were owned by a woman named Mrs. Sweet – hence the name. Again we had a small apartment but we had our own bathroom but it was across the hall from the rest of the apartment.
30: I was small for my age and I could still get into the movies for under 12 and for only 10 cents. Mom and I went to the movies once a week – our only real entertainment. We listened to one soap opera on the radio that came on once a week at 9 o’clock at night and since it was so late we would have the radio on real low and sit wit our ears next to the speaker so we could hear and that way we wouldn’t bother the people in the other apartment. For years I carried a crush on Lew Ayers (saw him in a movie last night – he was very old). He was the male lead and Nan Grey was the female lead.
31: It was during this time I learned to embroidery – Mom didn’t sew but did embroidery, she used to do some Danish Embroidery on all our sheets that was just beautiful. By the time I got married she was all through with that sort of stuff so I didn’t get any in my “hope chest” darn it. Suppose I would have used it though and it still would have been gone so no sense in crying over spilt milk.
32: At this point I think I will tell about the Jr. High School. Jr. High and Sr. High were in one building. Jr. High on one side and Sr. High on the other. Seemed like you were semi-associating with the high school kids when you were a Jr. High Schooler, and you grew up a bit faster maturation wise. I can’t remember having any problems with behavior or teasing etc. Some of my most favorite and disliked teachers were in that school. The Spanish Teacher liked the boys and they could do no wrong – truly – Dad will attest to that. You would dread going to her class if you were a girl as she could really make your life miserable. My favorite teacher of all time was Mr. Main. We lived next door to him and his mother when we lived “across the tracks” and he was always explaining something about nature to me. One day he dug up an anthill and explained to me how they made their nests etc. Anyway, he was the science teacher (had you guessed?) and I loved Biology and always stayed after school for extra credit to dissect another frog or whatever. The one class I made A’s in without a lot of effort. I was not a good student – I know all of you are shocked and are amazed at how much I have learned since – but C’s were my normal report card and occasionally a B. Our Basic education was good though and all my basic skills were such a good foundation. I always loved to read and spelling came with the territory, I guess – I never thought my math was any great shakes but think now I had a good basic math foundation although I never went on with any of the higher mathematics – Geometry was as high as I went. When I was a Junior in High School, Ty got transferred to Denver, so when school was out that year, Mom and I moved to Denver also. That was quite a decision for Mom to make, but we really didn’t have anyone in Lamar to keep us there, so we followed after the Carson’s.
33: Before I get into “Life after Lamar”, I just want to say that all of this took place during the depression. Life was very simple and uncomplicated. I had a happy childhood even though I lost my father and it was a terrible void. We didn’t have any money, but then neither did anyone else, so we were all in the same boat, and if I didn’t have a new dress, neither did the rest of the girls. Our enjoyments were simple – going to the drugstore for a coke could use up an entire evening. On Saturday night everyone went to town and walked the two blocks, both sides of the street, and stopped and chit chatted with the people you knew. The school dances were simple affairs in the school gym with a student dance band, but I would be willing to bet we probably had more fun at those simple dances than the kids do now with their elaborate affairs – plus we had them more often. Our football games were social events. The night before a football game, we always had a pep rally with a big bon fire and we would start a snake dance and it always ended up down on Main St., weaving in and out of the cars and even in and out of the theater, but no one seemed to really care and the fun was harmless – there was very little destructive behavior – well, occasionally, but it was nipped in the bud immediately and everyone was well aware it wouldn’t be accepted. Going to school in a small town has real pluses – you don’t have to be part of the “in” crowd and yes, small towns definitely have “in” crowds, but somehow you still go and you still enjoy yourself.
34: Ok, on to Denver. I went to South High my senior year in high school. The school seemed too big at first and I was very lost, but I soon found a few friends and most of those friends I still have today.
35: I never did get to know a wide range of people at South and I never did go to any of the dances or activities – even the football games – to start with they cost too much compared to Lamar, and then of course I didn’t know anyone and again I was very shy. I can hear you all laughing now, but I truly was. One thing about South that is strange is Sis went to South when we lived in Denver and graduated from there – she had the same steno teacher I had and the same Principal was there – the Principal retired the year I graduated. Anyway, when Frank started High School, George Washington wasn’t finished and so he did his first year at SOUTH. Keep it in the family tradition. Anyway, when we went back for PTA for Frank I was amazed at how much smaller it had become.
36: The apartment Mom and I rented when we first went to Denver was down on South Pearl St. – about a block off Evans. The living room and kitchen were on one side of the hall and the bedroom and bath (which we shared with another apartment) were on the other side of the hall. We always had to share our baths until we moved into 1275 Pearl and I was raised that when you left a bathroom you left it CLEAN for the next guy – we never even left our towels in the bathroom. Anyway, from that house I walked to South in all weather – was quite a walk and I suppose I could have taken public transportation but we didn’t have the money for it so I walked to school – when the weather was nice it was great, but when it was cold it was pretty miserable.
38: In the spring before graduation all the Denver High schools have “Color Day” and the tradition was you wore your school colors to school that day. | Purple and White was our colors and that year “Deep Purple” was the top song on the charts so all day long you could hear “Deep Purple” being played throughout the school. Each classroom had a record player in it with that record on it. I never hear the song now that I don’t think of that particular day in my high school life
39: Graduation from High School was in the downtown Auditorium and there were over 700 in my graduating class – more than there were in my whole school in Lamar, but it was exciting. Most of the kids went out to Elitch’s to dance but I went home with my family. I really didn’t feel left out because I never felt in so it just was one of those things that happened. I was glad to have my diploma and really wanted to go to nursing school but knew it was out of the question. I look back now and think if I just had a bit of gumption and fortitude I might have done it but that came later on in my life.
40: As soon as I graduated from High School I started looking for work and of course there just wasn’t any. I had my application in everywhere and each morning I would get on the ole #8 trolley (yes, Sis and Ty lived out by DU and at this time Mom and I were living with them) and do the rounds to no avail. In the afternoon I came home and worked on my very first quilt. I have never been the temperament to not do anything so I decided to make a Martha’s Vineyard quilt. (I had it finished before I found a job). Mom had made some quilts when we lived in Lamar – She made a couple of Lone Star quilts for Betsy and Sis and she made the grandgirl's Sunbonnet Sue quilts and I had watched her but really didn’t know a whole lot about what I was doing. The pattern I picked was very hard. It was grape vines trailing on the quilt – green stems and leaves with 600 purple grapes. The grapes were about inch across after they were appliquéd on the quilt and I know there were 600 because I counted them! I thought I would never get through cutting out and appliquéing these little circle on this piece of fabric, but I finally did and it really was quite nice for being my first quilt. I would love to see it now (we wore it out), just to see how atrocious my work really was, but I was proud of it.
43: Denver had an Emily Griffith Opportunity School which was really Adult Education and I started taking classes at that to pass the time. I took a gift wrapping class there before Christmas hoping to get put on at one of the Department Stores wrapping packages for them – didn’t work and maybe you that get packages wrapped by me these days know why, but at the time I thought I was doing as well as the next person. Then I took filing and typing and before and after school I would go job hunting again. Also had my name placed with Emily Griffith in case someone called and wanted someone to work for them. Lo and behold! One day they called me out of class to go on an interview with a doctor in the Republic Building. (This was a big medical building in downtown Denver and has since been torn down). This was the very first interview I had in all those months of pounding the pavement – I couldn’t believe it, I got the job and it was a job I really liked.
44: I was just a general flunky for the Dr., but I was his only help so I did everything from making his appointments, to his billing, to assisting him in the examining room to sterilizing his instruments. He took a lot of interest in me and because I was interested he taught me how to run a lot of the routine tests so before I was through I could do his urinalysis, his blood counts, draw blood, give his shots, etc. I started out at $8.00 a week and I thought I was rich!!!! I remember when I got my first paycheck Mom had gone back to Boston because her father had died and when she got home she was so mad at me because I had spent my first paycheck on a powder blue wool pleated skirt. I loved it until she had such a hissy and really don’t believe I wore it too much after that. Know how she felt now as I have since reacted the same way with my kids when I thought they spent their money foolishly, but I had wanted a skirt like that for so long and I had the money in my hot little fist so WHY NOT? I said – I soon found out why not!!!!
45: This is where my youth started. I really had fun during this time of my life. There were about 8 girls that worked in the Republic Building making about the same kind of money – in fact I was overpaid to a couple of them. Our night on the town was Thursday night and each Thursday night we got together and went to Hof Schroeder’s for dinner (if we went before 6 and had their house special, halibut, we got our dinner for 25 cents). If we could get through with dinner and get to the movie before 6 we could get in for a quarter so for 50 cents we had a great night out on the town! I am still friends with some of those girls today. It was during this time I met Dad. Now I was dating and having a grand time – I hardly missed a night at either Elitch's or Lakeside in the summertime and I was having a good social life, but one day all that changed! (for the better I might add) Mom and I were walking (again walking), Dad was home on leave and I guess our mothers naturally assumed we knew each other since we were both from Lamar, but we didn’t. We stood and stared at each other while our Mom;s did the talking and soon another boy and his mother (also from Lamar) came along and we ended up going over to their apartment and spent the afternoon reminiscing etc. On the way home I told Mom I wish Ferris would call me for a date and she told me he would never call for a date as I had acted too silly all afternoon.
47: Well, the next afternoon he did call and he asked me for a DINNER date for that night! I was so excited but my dinner date was at the local bar with him drinking scotch and coke and me drinking coke – no dinner. Well, you would think that would have made me leery, but he asked me for another date and this time he said he was going to take me to hear a wonderful singer named Frank Sinatra at one of the theaters downtown. In those days the movie theaters would have a movie and then between the movies they would have a stage show of a name band for about a half hour before the next show began. What bands you didn’t see at Elitch's or Lakeside you saw at the theaters performing.
48: The next night he picked me up and we got down to the theater and they announced that Frank Sinatra was no longer singing with Tommy Dorsey and their new singer was Dick Haymes. He was good and it was an enjoyable evening but -----Grandad blew it again! We had a date every night the rest of his leave and sometimes he would come down and have lunch with me – we spent a lot of time together and before he left to go back to his ship in Hawaii we were pretty well committed to each other but both of us were going to continue to date (don’t know where he was going to date out at sea). We even talked about marriage at Christmas time in Hawaii, but am not sure I was ready for that quite at that time. However, we did write EVERY day and got very well acquainted through our letters. You can get to know someone very well in letters. Think he might have had some doubts about me at this time as I always ended my letters with a Moron Joke. The Moron Jokes were the forerunners of the Polish Jokes – in fact they just changed the name of Moron to Polish. Anyway, him being away from civilization he didn’t know what a weird turn our sense of humor had taken and think he thought I’d lost my marble or something.
50: When Pearl Harbor struck, Mom and I were getting ready to go to a movie and had the radio on when it came on as a news bulletin. I was devastated not knowing if Grandad was alright or even where he was. The Minneapolis was never mentioned in any of the reports. It took about two weeks for me to get a letter from him that he was alive and well. From then on I didn’t know where he was or what he was doing, but I followed the Pacific battles avidly.
53: In the meantime I was still working at the Republic Building and my salary had increased to a staggering $10 a week. My friend, Ina Bott, had gone to work at Remington Arms in Denver making bullets for the war effort and she talked me into going out and applying for a job, which I did. Imagine my delight and surprise when I was hired at $50 a week!!!! The only drawback was it was shift work and Mom and I were living in a one room apartment and it made it very difficult for me to sleep during the day. Mom would sit quietly in a chair while I tried to get some sleep and midnight shift was a trying time for both of us, but the money was great! Richest I’ve ever been and life was good except my sweetheart was overseas getting shot at. All this time we continued to write letters faithfully and he could never tell me where he was or what was happening to him, so innocent that I was I thought all was well with him.
54: I had no idea where he was coming from or what train I was to meet. I called the florist and he told me the flowers had been sent from San Francisco so the day he was to come in I started meeting trains but he was never on one. I had to go to work at 4:00 – they were very strict during the war and if you didn’t show up the FBI came looking to see why you hadn’t gone to work. | One day a florist delivered roses to the door and the card said
55: Grandma Day started meeting the trains when I went to work and he was waiting for me when I got home from work. Within a week we were married.
56: We got married at Sis and Ty’s house in a very simple ceremony. We didn’t have much time to plan anything and we didn’t really care – all we wanted was to get married at that point. Sis did a great job getting it all together and it went off well. She even got a preacher that had retired from the Christian Church in Lamar to marry us and his name was Frank Day!
58: Dad had a months leave and of course in those days you had to plan 3 days coming and 3 days going by train to San Francisco. His ship had been hit so it was in dry dock in Mare Island and would be there for a while, so I was planning on going out there to be with him for a while.
59: Dad rented us a room with kitchen privileges in a little home in Vallejo. We packed a lifetime into those few weeks we had as in those days you didn’t know what the war was going to bring so you really lived for the moment. We had a great time and I first tried my hand at cooking in that little kitchen with some major disasters to prove it. Just lately we went looking for the little house while were staying with Frank and we found it – hadn’t changed much.
60: Soon Dad volunteered for another duty and they sent him to Madison, Wisconsin. We traveled to Denver together then he went ahead to find a place for us and again he rented us a room in a house WITHOUT kitchen privileges. We lived right off the campus of the University of Wisconsin and had a ball walking the campus and holding hands – about this time I found out I was pregnant!
62: Dad was only in Madison a short time and they sent him to Camp Crowder, Missouri, and I traveled with him.
63: We had asked the Red Cross to get us an air conditioned room with a private bath in Joplin, Missouri. During the war they brought out every old train and coach they had sitting in every corner of the train yards and the coach I rode from Kansas City to Joplin was the old cane seats and the lights were old kerosene lights. That was an experience. Dad was back in a Pullman because he was “one of our boys”. Servicemen were number 1 in those days. We got into Joplin in the afternoon – must have been 106 degrees and our hotel room was small with the window looking out on a brick wall – our air conditioning was a little 6 inch fan and we shared our bathroom with another room. Dad would not hear of it – he sent me home the next day as much as I fought him, but by September he had found us a nice apartment in Carthage Missouri, by that time the weather had cooled down and things were looking up. There were a bunch of navy men there taking army basic training and these people in this small town in Missouri did not know what a sailor was!!! It was really our first real home as all the other places had been one room, but we had three rooms and felt like we had a palace. It was here I went into maternity clothes and started having Frank think I was a football.
64: During this time we made some really good lifetime friends. The Kantrowitz’s from White Plains NY. He was Jewish and she was Italian and they were quite a pair, and could she cook!!! They came through Salt Lake one time and spent a few days with us and also when we went back east in 1961 we spent an afternoon at their house. We wrote for years but soon their letters stopped and we never really knew what happened except in 1961 she had Multiple Sclerosis so suppose she died and he just didn’t or couldn’t keep up the correspondence.
65: Another friend was Kermit and Ruby Randall. She was pregnant while we were in Missouri also and we had a lot in common. We went through Minneapolis also on our way back from the East Coast in 1961 and visited them. We corresponded until she died from cancer and Kermit has since remarried and we exchange Christmas Cards every year with them
66: Before long that all came to an end and it was back to Denver for a leave for Ferris before he left for the European theater and I moved back in with Mom – since there was going to be an addition to our family we soon got a two room apartment. It was awful saying goodbye to Dad. It is amazing how close a couple become in a few short months. We felt like we had been married forever and especially since there was Frank coming it was doubly hard saying goodbye. Does it make sense that this was the longest period of my life and also the shortest???? I thought Dad would never get home. I bombarded him with letters. They had what they called V-Mail letters which you wrote on a one sheet of thin paper and folded into an envelope – they went to a centralized location and were microfilmed and the microfilm was sent overseas and the serviceman got a photocopy of your letter. They went faster so you found yourself using them for that reason. Again I didn’t know where he was most of the time. We had worked out a code so he could tell me where he was most of the time I had a vague idea where he was but had no idea what kind of action he was seeing – good thing I didn’t either because ignorance is bliss.
68: Frank decided to start coming in the middle of the night and Mom and I called a taxi and got to General Rose Hospital. We of course were nervous (me especially as I had NO IDEA what to expect). I was NOT a good patient but despite it all Frank finally made it into the world and has been the light of my life ever since. What attention he got.
69: He had two doting women catering to his every wish but despite it all he wasn’t obnoxiously spoiled. Believe it or not he was a fat, roly poly baby and extremely good natured. I went back to work and Mom cared for him during the day. I wanted to go back to school and get a lab technicians certificate, but the doctor I worked for convinced me to come back and work for him for a whopping $25 a week! Money talks and that’s where I went. I gave Mom my $80 allotment check for board and room and tending Frank, and the money I earned plus what Dad could send me from what he saved we saved $1500 and that is what we used to put down on our first house we bought in Salt Lake City. We led quite an uneventful life. In the same apartment building we lived in were about four other war widows and all of us had boys within a year or two of the same age so Frank had lots of playmates. As far as I know all the husbands made it back OK but of course that was one of our main topics of conversation – the war.
70: When VE day happened Mom and I got on a bus and took it downtown just to see what was happening never realizing the bedlam it turned out to be. People went absolutely wild – the streets were jammed with people and they were dancing, laughing, kissing – just joy everywhere. There wasn’t a family anywhere that wasn’t touched somehow by the war. People were in the windows in office buildings up above throwing out toilet paper and the place was a mass of paper. No destruction. I can see something like that happening now – they would be breaking windows and stealing etc., but it was very peaceful – it was pure unadulterated joy. We sat in the bus with Frank (he was about a year and a half) for several hours but he drank in the toilet paper routine so that for several months after that if he was quiet we would check him and he would be in the bathroom unrolling the toilet paper!!!!
71: Soon after came VJ Day and it was VE Day in duplicate and we went downtown again to see the excitement. Today I would no more do something like that, but in those days things did not get out of control. Sometime after that I was at the beauty shop getting a perm when I got a telephone call at the shop (this never happened to me) and it was Ferris calling from New York. He was in the States and ON HIS WAY HOME!
72: Yes, we did have some difficulty with Frank at first with jealousy but he soon settled down and accepted this new man that kept hanging around. Dad’s first job was working in construction as a hod carrier at $1 an hour. Hard work and no future, but it got us through until he got a job with the VA. They had turned the arms plant where I had worked making bullets into a VA office building and he worked out there.
73: It was during this time we bought our first car. First for both of us! At least Dad knew how to drive. It was a 1936 Oldsmobile and we were so proud of it. They were not making new autos yet and if you wanted a new auto you had to get on the waiting list for it. We had neither the money or the desire to wait that long so a friend of ours told us about a back yard mechanic that took old cars and fixed them up and resold them. This was our first car and it gave us a lot of service. About a year later Ty suggested to Ferris he put in an application with AT&T and see if he could be hired on with them as he hated working for the VA. Lo! He got hired but the catch was the job was in Salt Lake City and we would have to move ourselves if we wanted that plus get our poor old car to Salt Lake. It was HOT!!! It was August. We pulled into Rock Springs Wyoming about 4 in the afternoon and it was so hot our car vapor locked so we decided to spend the night there and get an early start the next morning. We got up about 5 to get on the road and our speedometer had frozen during the night. Such extremes – we learned early about the changes of temperature in Wyoming.
74: Grandma Day had a friend in Salt Lake and she had told us we could stay with her until we found a place to stay. We lived in a dark, dank basement, but it was cheap and we had our meals with her. We finally found an old house for sale that was 25 years old then – to us it seemed like heaven and we bought it. It wasn’t long before we wanted to change things like rip out the partition between the living room and dining room and modernize our bathroom. We didn’t know a thing about what we were doing and we really botched up a couple of jobs, but we learned a lot from that house. It was in this house that we brought John home from the hospital.
75: It didn’t take us long to decide we wanted another baby – let us say Frank pressured us into it. He wanted a baby brother so bad. We almost lost John when he was two weeks old by his choking, but thank goodness we saw it happen and were right there and saved him – let me say Dad saved him as I went to pieces. John was the one we had to watch as he was always into things – it is a wonder he is alive today. Besides the choking, he bit through the lamp cord and burned both inside and outside his mouth, in those days Dad smoked and he was continually getting a cigarette and eating it and making himself sick – you would think he would have learned wouldn’t you? We had a floor furnace and no amount of watching and barricading it kept him from stepping on it and burning his foot and he was constantly taking off on his own, not exactly running away, just exploring, but there was a big irrigation ditch about a block away from us and I lived in terror he would end up in that. I managed to stay fairly thin in those days. It was in this house Frank started school and he had quite a ways to walk to get to school. We lived on a very busy street and he had to cross it to get to the schoolhouse. We spent a whole summer teaching him how to get to the school. He would cross the street in front of our house and walk the rest of the way. He loved school -- in fact he wanted to go to school for two years before he was able. He always had a thirst for knowledge.
76: It was about this time I became pregnant with Susan. I really wanted a girl this time! We decided we would sell our house so we could put in for a transfer to Denver. Unless the company transferred you they wouldn’t pay your way so the first step was to get rid of the house and not have that to worry about. We finally sold the house and moved into a new area of town called Rose Hills. Very small houses and even smaller duplexes, but we moved into one of the duplexes – have since gone back to see it and really wondered where we put three kids and us and sometimes more often than not one of our mothers.
77: Susan arrived and was everything I wanted in a little girl – adorable, lots of hair, and petite. She had one fault – she cried all the time. Dad worked midnight to 8 which he did most of the time we were in Salt Lake and I would try to get a bit of sleep before he left for work because the minute he left the house she woke up and was awake the rest of the night crying – of course we lived in a duplex and I didn’t dare let her cry for fear of annoying our neighbors so I would be up all night. Those were bleak days. Another disastrous thing happened at that time. Dad had joined the reserves primarily to give us a bit of extra money, but his reserve time ran out and he was not going to rejoin when the Korean conflict came about and he was the first one called up from Salt Lake City. What a blow!! Susan was 5 months old and crying all the time and when Dad left town John took it out on Susan. He had always been a Daddy's boy and think somewhere in his little head he figured out that Susan was the reason he left (probably because she cried all the time) Anyway, I was back to watching him all the time as I would find him standing on her or holding her upside down and any number of things. Those were fun days. Fortunately for my sanity they didn’t keep Dad in the Navy for very long as he could prove his Reserve time was actually up when they called him into active service so he was only gone about 5 months. (Seemed like 5 years). We enjoyed Salt Lake but knew we didn’t want to raise our children there because if you didn’t belong to the Mormon Church at that time you were sort of on the sidelines. Tuesday evening was Primary and there were no children anywhere to play with – all were at Primary, and when Frank started feeling the effects of it at school we felt it was time to ask for that transfer to Denver which we got. '
78: Money was scarce so Dad went to Denver ahead of us and found a place for us to live and I stayed in Salt Lake and packed our belongings and then I was going to travel by train to Denver. Sounded good and would have been great, but Susan actually cried all the way from Salt Lake to Denver (she was 18 months old) and I was a wreck knowing she was disturbing the rest of the people in the car but I couldn’t pacify her in any way. | When the train pulled into Denver station I handed Dad Susan and just collapsed. It was an all day trip – we left Salt Lake at 5am and got into Denver at 5pm. We rented a house out by Grandma Day for a few months while we hunted and then found the little house on South Elm St. It was primarily all War Veterans buying their first NEW home in this neighborhood, and we were thrilled to find this house. The Veterans were buying the homes with the VA Loans so it was a lot of young families and everyone was in the same boat financially and almost everyone had several kids, The house was a three bedroom with one bath, living room, dinette, and small kitchen. It was a great house for our size family, but soon Sharon was on the way! In a lot of respects the US was still feeling the effects of the war and lots of industries were still way behind and since that was a brand new large area it was two years before we had telephone service. The phone company installed a phone booth at the end of each block and that lasted for two years.
79: One time on South Elm a shoe store was giving away a 10 speed bicycle to the boy who could get the most points during a certain time. You got points if someone bought a pair of shoes and used your name, you got points for each pair of old shoes you would bring in and our kids would go out with their wagon and go door to door gathering old shoes, you got points on Thursday by just going in and signing your name for the child you wanted to win and I would gather up the neighborhood and we would take a trek to the shoe store – several trips each Thursday. We won the 10 speed bike for Frank – otherwise he would have never had one, also it was a family effort. Frank was out there plugging away but so was the rest of the family. We were thrilled Sharon was a girl and it made our bedroom situation work out great. Two girls, two boys and us except my Mom moved in with us! It was a tight squeeze and we added on a rec room onto the back of the house and extended our eating space so we had more room for our growing family and lo! Here came Bob.
81: One time on South Elm when the kids were all little I was getting them ready to go somewhere and was bundling them in the car which was a major project in itself and drove off when a few blocks from home I came to and I had left Sharon asleep in her crib. Talk about feeling foolish. Another time on South Elm we were getting ready to go somewhere and we were all in the car when I remembered I had left a pie in the oven, so I ran back in to take it out. When I came back outside the car was gone. John had taken it out of gear and it had rolled down the hill with him and Susan in it. Fortunately, the car ran up on a lawn and didn’t stay in the street where they could have really been hurt at the bottom of the hill. When I got to the car John said to me “I guided the car!” He was so proud and I was scared to death. I have a million stories – about the time John ditched kindergarten, but where he didn’t use good judgment was taking Susan with him and I found out about it because I started looking for her.
82: We were still using one bath and three bedrooms and wondering how we could enlarge to another bedroom and maybe another bath when Dad got transferred to Kansas City. Dad left for Kansas City for a new job and left me with 5 kids (one 2 weeks old) and a house to keep up to snuff to sell. Well, it didn’t sell and it didn’t sell so Dad got tired of being in Kansas City by himself so decided we would move anyway. We bought the cheapest house we could find in Kansas City and we were still paying payments on the house in Denver and moved into a three bedroom with one bath house. The saving grace was we did have a basement in that house, however, I think we like being cozy as we seldom used it. Finally the house in Denver sold and Dad went back to Denver to close the deal – after he signed the papers he went by the office to say “hi” to everyone when the boss came up to him and asked him if he had sold his house yet. When he told him yes, that was why he was there his reply was “Too bad, as you are moving back to Denver.” Exactly a year to the day we moved back from Kansas City. I really didn’t get out too much in Kansas City as I was a bit tied down, but we did like what we saw and the schools were excellent – We lived in Johnson County, Kansas, and I can say one thing their springs and falls are spectacular, but you can keep their summers and their winters. Both Frank and John got very involved in Little League while we were there and we spent many a summer evening watching Little League games.
83: Once in Kansas City when Susan and Sharon were across the street playing with some other children the mother frantically called me that Susan had had something fall down off the wall in the garage and hit her in the head. I went over to the garage and there was Susan crying her heart out, but we couldn’t find anything wrong with her. We finally looked at Sharon and she had blood running down her face. She needed several stitches. Susan was crying because Sharon got hurt.
84: Coming back to Denver we bought the house on Atlantic Place. It was a nice house and I really liked it a lot. Still three bedrooms, but a bath and a half and it also had a basement which we soon built two bedroom downstairs and made the house a lot more livable. We were all happy to be back in Denver – it has always seemed like home – and we soon became involved in all sorts of things. The kids always had a project going and the whole family would pitch in together to get it done. John wanted to go to summer camp through the YMCA and you could earn your way by selling candy. For each dollar box of candy you sold you would get 50 cents toward going to camp. Our kids worked their tails off selling candy so John could go to camp.
86: It soon became a yearly thing and he would end up going for a month and each of our kids got a chance to go to camp through the YMCA. They would have never got that experience if we hadn’t all worked together. We had that selling candy down to a science. On year just before candy selling time John hurt his hand playing stick hockey – I looked at his hand and didn’t think it was anything but a bruise and we went ahead and got the candy and loaded it in the back of our station wagon and each night John would have to unload it as it was winter and it would freeze if we didn’t take it out of the car! After the candy sale was over I took him to the doctor with his hand and he had broken it and here he was loading and unloading the car every night!! I felt terrible but the doctor said it didn’t hurt it any. That turned into a family project each year and we worked together and we sold a whole lot of candy!!
88: Another time we wanted to get Dad a Christmas present that he didn’t have to earn the money for us to buy it for him so we decided to sell Christmas Cards. The kids spread out and would sell Christmas Cards door to door. I would take the kids to neighborhoods nearby but too far to walk and drop them off to do a block and then go to the next block and drop one off until I had them all dropped off and go back and start picking them up. One time in going back and picking them up I forgot to pick up Susan. We got home and then missed her and I drove back to get her and there she was standing on the corner where she was supposed to be and you guessed it, she was crying! Once when Frank was going to South, they dismissed the school during a real bad freak storm we had in September and South didn’t have any heat so they dismissed the school. He didn’t think I would know abut it so he went to Merrill (the Junior High) and spent the day there and all the time I was frantically looking for him. He was a lot taller than me, but I shook him until his teeth rattled.
89: When we lived on Atlantic Place the Highline Canal was not too far from our house. It was a canal they used for irrigation for the farmers and we lived on the edge of town so there was a lot of open space past us. The kids would pack a sack lunch on Saturday and head out and ride their bikes along the Highline Canal and have a ball. There wasn’t always water in the canal, and at one place there was a rope hanging from a big cottonwood tree and the kids could swing across the canal. Today in Denver that is all built up as homes where our kids used to play and they have made nice bike and jogging paths out of the road that used to run along the canal. It’s still a neat place to go but not nearly as secluded and private.
90: It was about this time (after Bob went to kindergarten) that I went back to work part time. I got a job at the new Neustetter's in Cherry Creek and I worked 11 – 3 so I would be home when the kids left for school and be home about the time they got home from school. It worked out great and I enjoyed getting out into the work force again. | Things were so much easier in those days – we thought nothing of letting the kids get on the bus and go downtown and attend a movie and when they were old enough the girls joined Rainbow and they joined an assembly in downtown Denver – they would take the bus down for their meetings and come home by bus. Thank goodness because it seemed like I was chauffeuring everywhere anyway