Monday, February 28, 2011


An early recollection about living in the Franklin Park house is the family radio and Saturday nights.

When I was little, my family had a small radio.  It was about the size of a shoe box. The exterior of the radio was an off white material called Bakelite.  It had a knob or two and a dial that was used to tune in the station that you wanted to listen to.  It doesn't sound very special.  But back in those olden days, it was pretty state of the art.  Since television was  in the early stages of development way back then, the radio was a source of family entertainment.  When the radio was on, the  tubes inside the radio glowed. It seems to me that we would often listen to the radio with the lights in the room turned off as the glow from the radio provided the only light.

                      The "Glow In The Dark" Radio was similar to this one.

On Saturday nights, after bath time, I remember gathering around the family radio with my sisters and listening to a favorite weekly program.  As we sat listening to the radio, my mother would be putting our freshly washed hair up in pin curls using bobby pins.  Mother had attended beauty school before getting married and had great skill with pin curls and bobby pins.  She always wanted  her girls to look their finest for church meetings the next day.  So we would go to bed with our damp hair in pin curls and a scarf tied around our head to keep the pin curls in place as we slept. On Sunday morning, the scarfs came off, the curls were brushed out and church clothes put on.  Off we went to church, looking mighty fancy.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


I was three when my parents moved from the house in Franklin Park.  So there are very few clear memories for me of time I lived in that house.  I know that the lot the house  was on was large enough for a vegetable garden. They also had some rabbits. Apparently, the rabbits ended up as part of family dinner at some point.  My mother kept the fur from the rabbits.  As a young girl, I had a beautiful royal blue, wool coat made by my mother.  The collar had white, rabbit fur on it.  Then there is the story of the family cow.

My grandpa Reid was visiting the family and decided that instead of having milk delivered to the house each day, it would be cheaper to have a cow to supply the milk. My parents said they didn't want a cow, but Grandpa bought one anyway.  The cow didn't last long with the family because the pasture where it grazed had wild onions that became a part of the cow's diet.  The family wasn't too fond of milk that tasted like onions, so the cow was sold.

I remember that there was a long driveway, going down a hill towards the back of the house.  The hill was held back with a rock wall.  In the lawn above the driveway, there was a flagpole.  I vaguely remember that once I was holding on to the flag pole and running around it. I let go of the flagpole and centrifugal force carried me over the wall and on to the driveway below.  In my recollection, my oldest brother, John, caught me as I fell.  But more accurately, he was probably near by as I went flying and picked me up, no worse for wear.  But in my mind, he saved my life because to a toddler, the rock wall was VERY high and I might have died had I hit the ground below. So, John, if you are reading this, maybe you have a better recollection.

Update:  My brother, John, confirms that he did actually catch me as I came flying over the retaining wall.  Luckily, he just happen to be standing there.  He's 11 years older than me.  So at the time of this incident, he was about 14.

Saturday, February 26, 2011


My parents, along with my older brothers and sisters, John, David, Karen and Linda, moved to the Washington DC area in 1945.  My Father, a civil engineer, worked for the Bureau of Public Roads (now the Federal Highway Administration) and had been transferred to the Washington DC headquarters office.  Dad had begun his career with the Bureau of Public Roads as a surveyor on horseback.  He moved up the career ladder in the federal government with assignments in San Francisco, Ogden, Utah, Seattle, and Edmonton, Alberta, Canada prior to the transfer to Washington.

My family lived in suburban Maryland when they first arrived in the DC area.  But according to my father, the area was less than desirable for a young family.  Early in 1946, they purchased a home in Fairfax County, Virginia, in an area called Franklin Park that was about seven miles west of downtown Washington.  Back then, it was a heavily, wooded rural area and the house was on a half acre lot. Today, you would have to drive quite a way outside DC before you could find anything that would be considered rural Virginia.

Even though my family lived in Virginia when I was born.  I wasn't born there.  I joined my family at the National Homeopathic Hospital in Washington, D.C.

And that's how I'm a US citizen without being born in a state.

Update:  My oldest brother told me that this house was on a full acre.  Because my two oldest brothers used to complain about have to care for the yard and property, my dad called it "Belly Acre" because the two boys were always "belly aching" about their chores.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


In 1946, Thanksgiving fell on November 28. It was also the day I was born. My mother told me once that she didn't have room for both me and the turkey, so she had to have me. But, since she was in the hospital birthing me, she missed Thanksgiving dinner anyway.

The following story of the circumstances of my birth are as they were told to me by my mother. Time may have dulled my exact memory of the story and since she is no longer here to verify the details, everyone will just have to go with it.

Apparently, my mother's doctor was anxious to deliver me because he didn't want to miss the Army-Navy football game which I guess was sometime around her due date. He decided to induce labor. I don't know the exact details of that process back then. But Mother said labor was started, but not very productive. She walked the halls of the hospital for quite awhile hoping things would move along. Her water broke (either naturally or by the doctor, I don't know which), but labor eventually stopped and even though I was in the breech position, she was sent home. Now in this day, that would never have happened. A C-Section would have been done. I find it hard to believe that she was sent home in the condition that she was, but my mother always said that was the case.

Almost two weeks later, Thanksgiving morning, she went into labor again. I was still breech, but the delivery went OK and my mother never said there were any complications. I was the 5th child and 3rd daughter born to my mother, Editha "Dixie" Reid Christensen, and my father, Morley Burt Christensen.

Update: I recently rediscovered a letter written to me by my mother. In it, she writes about the details of my birth.  It was pretty much as I have told it.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Not too long ago, my oldest grandson asked me "Grandma, what were cars like back in the olden days?". The question took me by surprise. Not that he wanted to know about cars way back then, but that he referred to my younger days as the olden days. I responded with "Well, it wasn't THAT long ago.". Since I'm probably one of the oldest people he knows, I guess that when he thinks of me being younger, it seems like the olden days.

When I think of the olden days, I think of when my father was born back in 1904. Now that was really olden...long before automobiles, indoor plumbing and paved roads. In his personal history, my father writes about life in the olden days of Brigham City, Utah:

"The house was a one-story adobe one with an attic that was unfinished and only accessible by ladder to one of the windows at the gable ends. The house consisted of a parlor (which was rarely open for use), a dining room, two bedrooms, a pantry a lean to kitchen, and room intended for a bathroom but without any fixtures. The toilet was a 2 holer out in the back yard where a Sears Roebuck catalog usually served as toilet paper. The only water supply in the house was a cold water tap in the kitchen sink and the sink drain pipe extended through the wall and spilled the water on to the ground outside.

The only source of heat in the house in addition to the kitchen range was a small coal-burning heater in the dining room. This meant that the bedrooms were unheated and so were uncomfortably cold in the winter months. It was common practice on the coldest nights to heat a flat iron on the stove, roll it in rags or newspapers and put it in between the bed covers to keep the feet warm."

I guess the "Olden Days" are just a matter of perspective. For my grandson, it was life without video games, microwaves and iPods. For me, it was the lack of indoor plumbing, electricity, telephones and automobiles. This blog is mainly for the benefit of my children and grandchildren. I've realized that they may not know too much about me before I became their mom and grandma. I'm going to share the good times and the bad times of my life. Enjoy the trip back to my olden days.

Note: Excerpt from my Dad's life history is as he wrote it, including the punctuation or, lack of, in some cases. I was tempted to correct it, but refrained.