This blog was formerly dedicated in 2009 to my Dad who died of Alzheimer's in 2013. It's been three years now...and I find myself missing blogging...so I am re-inventing my blog... because, after all, life is about moving through, and going forward...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Childhood Memories of Bremerton, Washington...

I was thinking today about my childhood.  So many vivid memories of when we lived in Bremerton, Washington on Wright Ave.  We lived there for 5 years and moved back to California when I was 10. Our house was a Duplex.  We had underground trash cans, where the trash can was sunk into the ground, to the side of the front sidewalk by the front porch of our home.  Dad would step on a lever thing and the lids would fly open and then he dropped the trash into the can.

During the Summer,we used haul the empty can out of the hole, fill it with water and use it to cool off.  Maybe that is why my parents finally bought us one of those rubber blow up kind of wading pools...but we sure had fun playing in it. Our imagination was our best toy.  When we went down that hole we pretended we were in a submarine and it was flooding and we'd have to jump in and then climb out so somebody else could take a turn.

Whenever Easter rolled around, Mom would always line us up on the front porch and take our pictures before church.  My brother had to have a bow tie (went better with his buzz cut) and my sister and I had to have our hair "spring loaded" from having Mom make us sleep in Bobby Pin curls (yeowwww, those things hurt to sleep on, despite the scarf she covered the pins with and tied off at our forehead.  Kind of like an upside down diaper.)  We had to dress up for special occasions.  My sister and I had to wear a dress, hat (which looked like a Frisby), gloves and a purse.  I HATED IT.  I never felt comfortable in a dress unless it had pockets in it.  I was always in blue jeans.

There were no fences in those days, and the woods were right in our backyard.  The street below us, I think was Halverson and it was down the hill, below the woods.  When I caught the school bus, Mom could sit in our kitchen and watch me walk out through our back yard, go through the woods, come out in the neighborhood below us, and then down to the street where the bus stop was...

Mom used to tell me, I would fiddle-fart around on my way down to the bus and miss it.  I would then happily skip back home and Mom, having seen me miss the bus, would be really PISSED!  I think she did not walk me down, because she had my little brother and sister to wrangle if she did. Dad drove our only car to the Navy Ship Yards, where he worked.  He was also a Mailman for a short time.

I remember there was a cement wall on Halverson, about three feet tall, with various stair steps leading up to the front yards, breaking up the wall. I used to go play on the wall with my girlfriend.  One of our favorite games was to jump down from the wall, to the ground below and pretend we were under the ocean.  We'd see how long we could hold our breath. Who ever built that wall, was quirky, because there were marbles and shells stuck in it.  I loved exploring that wall and pretending I was finding a sunken treasure.

We used to play the board games,  Candyland and Chutes and Ladders. We would sit on the porch, drink Kool-Aid, eating bread, butter and sugar open face sandwiches, watching some blond haired girl touch her nose with her tongue...

In the summer, we would use old cardboard boxes, break them down and use them as sleds to slide down the grassy hills.  When it snowed, we shared sleds.  Even the grown ups would sled and ski in the backyards, which was simple enough because no one had fences.  They could sled or ski from the top of Wright Avenue, around the woods and down to the neighborhood on Halverson Street.

We had tool sheds for the mowers, shovels etc behind the Duplexes.  One time I ran away and hid in someone's shed.  Dad went out looking for me and found me because I was sobbing so loud...

Dad used to take me for walks in the woods and show me what kind of berries I could eat, and which ones I couldn't.  He even showed me some roots to eat, that tasted kind of like carrots but were white.  My friends and I used to build "forts" in the woods.  We'd dig a hole, then put sticks over the top and cover with ferns.

I remember when Dad took us camping with another family to Mt. Olympic National Park.  We weren't expecting it to be so cold, so Mom put extra underwear on our heads, for hats and socks on our hands to keep us warm.  We sat and laughed our heads off at one another.  Dad told us scary stories by the fire.

We all used to travel on the steel electric ferries across Puget Sound.  Dad would drive the car onto the ferry, then we would hold onto Mom or Dad with one hand and plug our nose with the other, because the gas fumes stank.  Mom and I were discussing the ferries, and I ask if she remembered the names of any of the ferries.  She told me we rode on Klickitat the most. (All six ferries were built in San Francisco in 1927 and named after areas in Northern California.  In 1951 they were bought to service in Washington and renamed with American Indian names.) I Googled it, and found a picture of one of it.


We used to bring those little plastic Cowboys, Indians and horse figures to play with on the ferry.  I loved to go with Dad to the top of the ferry, where it was nippy and cold. We would huddle against the wind, and it made my nose run.  I can still remember looking up at my Dad and liking the expression on his face as he looked out over the water...

I used to get so frightened when Dad would drive over the Puget Sound Bridge to Seattle.  I could look at the window, way down to the whirlpools below and think we would be swallowed forever if we ever fell in.

Dad used to take us on the beach under the Manette bridge to dig for a real ugly clam called goeduck ("gooey-ducks").  We had to dig like a dog, legs spread apart, bent over, and digging like mad with our hands to catch them.  They have this long hose like thing on them that holds a lot of water, and unfortunately, the clam is head down, while it's tail-hose thing is closest to the surface...One cloudy day, Mom, Dad and I were all digging, and one spit up at me, making me look like I wet my pants.  

Dad LOVES clams, oysters, sardines and Mom would make him eat it outside
because it grossed us out and we hated the stink from those things!! He used to have
some saying he used to always tell  us, "Don't eat oysters or clams in a month that does not have an "R" in it", so basically, not in the summer.  So that particular, cold, day, my wet pants made me a lot more than just uncomfortable!  I was freezing!!

Thinking about Dad so much lately, I am so Blessed that all these memories are still
so vivid in my mind.  It is keeps my Dad closer to me...

How Blessed we all are, to have the memories we do.  They are priceless, especially now.  Each of us, when we get together, find ourselves reminiscing and sharing our stories with Dad...

I wish I could have connected with you today Dad... I'll just have to try again
tomorrow...

5 comments:

Wander to the Wayside said...

I'm so envious of you! I have so few memories of my youth that it's almost like someone took an eraser to my brain. If it weren't for the few photos I have, there probably wouldn't be any recollections at all. And the memories of your dad are priceless.

Mari said...

Such great memories! I remember sleeping with bobby pins in my hair and wearing gloves to church. I'm intrigued by the underground trash can. I never heard of such a thing!

Donna said...

My sister lives in Bremerton, and we hope to get up that way next summer, if my husband's back heals up enough for us to travel in our 5th wheel. We stay in Charleston, OR in a really neat RV camping park called Bastendorf, right next to the ocean. As I child, we played Kick the Can, Run Sheepy Run, Hide & Seek, Hopscotch, Jump Rope, Double Dutch being my favorite. We played outside all the time. The kids now days need to play out side more instead of playing with all the electronic gadgets. Too many obese children. Thanks for making me think back to my childhood days.

Gillian said...

I love your blog. How do they diagnose alzheimers? My gran had it and now my mum is 68 and is concerned she may go down the same path. Is it hereditory?

Donna B said...

Hi Linda (Wander..) Please feel free to share my memories with me...

Hi Mari...weren't those Bobby Pins the worst! Those were the 50's...yeah, I have never seen trash cans like that since, but apparently, they still have them in Washington...maybe to keep animals out of the trash?

Hi Donna...I hope your hubby's back heals up well enough so you can travel. I have such wonderful memories of Washington. It is still such a beautiful state with so much of Nature's beauty.

Hi Gillian..I sent you a longer private email in response to the Alzheimer's...thank you and please come visit again.