The Old Neighborhood

No matter how many times you may have moved during your youthful years there is always one house and one neighborhood that you have locked in your memory as the “old neighborhood”.  When you think of your childhood that is the image that comes to mind, that front window, that special friend you played with down the block or the bikes and skateboards scattered about the front porch and driveway. 

I was born during the War and we lived on Beacon street in east Dallas.  It was not too far from the old Ford assembly plant.  During the war it was used for war production to build trucks and jeeps.  My mom worked there for a short while.  She was a messenger and she wore roller skates to get around the factory quickly because it was so large.  She didn’t stay long she was no Rosie the Riveter.  She was a true stay at home mom, even if that meant living on the edge. We were with my grandmother, her mom, in that duplex for the duration.  Dad sent her most of his monthly pay from the Navy.   It was a pitifully small amount but it bought shoes and baby food for me.  Dad had left for the War only a couple of weeks after I was born.

When Dad came home we moved pretty soon to another duplex without the grandmother to Overton Road; it was not the best of neighborhoods even then. But it was ours.  Before we moved I recall once when the neighbor next door got really mad at Dad about the use of the drive way.  He was a brute and a drunk.  He cussed and yelled at us.  Not a good idea for a guy just back from the war.  I don’t remember any real physical confrontation but I do remember the guy back up on his porch hollering that he would call the police.   We didn’t have trouble with him anymore.  After Overton Rd. we moved to Monticello.  Another duplex but it was two-story in a decent but middle class neighborhood in Oak Cliff.  That was where we were when I got my first train set and my brother was a toddler there. 

Then we moved to Dawson street in south Dallas.  It was literally next door to the water plant where Dad worked.  At least he didn’t have to drive to work.  That was the place where we had our ice box.  Dad would bring a big block of ice home every few days.  We would chip it off for ice tea in the summer.  I guess he went by the ice house on his routes to get it.  It was not a great place because mom was so worried about the trucks and equipment all around the place.  It wasn’t very elegant and the neighborhood was a bit shoddy but the church we attended was only a couple of blocks away.  “Dr. Daughtery” was the preacher.  The Dr. was an honorific.   This where Dad had two jobs.  He worked at the water plant and was also working for the Texas Pacific Railroad.

Then we moved to Savoy street farther out in Oak Cliff.  It was a brand new house.  It was two bedrooms and one bath.  Very small.  It probably had only a little over one thousand square feet.  That is where I got the yellow jaundice and started to school.  Dad bought it with a VA loan.  It was one of many new developments popping up everywhere to accommodate all the veterans and their families.  This was when TV first started becoming popular.  Every other week or so you would see a new antenna going up on someone’s roof and you knew they had bought a TV.  Before we bought ours we had driven to my cousin’s house to watch theirs.  We would all gather in the living rooms and watch anything that was on, literally anything including the test pattern. I imagine there are millions of youngsters out there today who don’t even know what a test pattern is much less have ever seen one.   Not much to see those first couple of years because TV was on only a few hours a day on the days it was on.  Sign off was about 10 and it didn’t come on until the afternoon.

From there we moved to my cousin’s house.  They had built a new house on Monte Carlo not too far from our place on Savoy.  But their house was bigger and a bit nicer than ours.  We moved in with them a little while before they moved out.  Probably because dad had rented out the place on Savoy.  ‘This house was on Cascade.  I had always liked that house and was very happy to move there.  There was a creek near by and more of my friends from school lived in that area.  It was a brick house with a separate garage out back.  It had three bedrooms, but still only one bath.  It was a real upgrade for us.  I remember my Dad did lots of work on it when we first moved in.  He painted everything and knocked down a wall to open the area up so the old dining room and living room became one large room.   He put in a patio in the back for mom.  We got out first “air conditioning” unit there.  It wasn’t really an air conditioner.  It was just a fan that blew over a wet sponge like device to cool the air.  It was pathetic but it seemed like the greatest thing since sliced bread to us.

This was the house where Mom got her first modern washing machine. Before that she had the old-fashioned kind that were just a big tub that would jostle the clothes.  They all had a handle on the top with rollers that  were the “wringer”.  After the clothes were washed you would take them out one at a time and hand crank them through the wringer to get most of the water out.  Then take them out to the clothes line.  All the houses had clothes lines then.  I guess it was during the mid and late ’50’s that they finally quit putting in the clothes lines.  I wonder what happened to all those companies the used to manufacture them?  To be continued…..

Don’t forget to keep a box of baking soda very handy in your kitchen.  It is great for small cuts, nicks and bug bites.  Nothing is better for those pesky skillet fires that erupt on the burner.  Yes, ladies, those greasy skillets still catch fire on a regular basis, don’t they?   http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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