Wednesday, July 27, 2011


My oldest sister, Karen, married Niels in the fall of 1959.  Niels was a Danish citizen in the U.S. on a work Visa.  They met through a ward member who had met Niels at a grocery store where he worked and invited him to church activities. Niels wasn't a member of the church. But after a period of time, he was baptized and he and Karen were married.  They returned to live in Denmark for the first year or so of their marriage.  Not long after their return to the U.S., Niels realized that even though he had a good Danish education, he needed more education in order to be well employed and better support his family.

To help with the living expenses for my sister and her family while Niels was in college, they moved into the lower level of the new home on Columbia Pike.  They used the large bedroom downstairs as a combination living area and bedroom.  The laundry room, with it's double cement sink, was turned into their kitchen.  A refrigerator and stove were installed and I think some shelves or cupboards.  Since there was an outside entrance from the basement besides the sliding doors to the patio, they had their own entrance to the lower level.
I think the set up worked fairly well for them.

But, Karen and Niels had at least one child when they moved into and there were no additional bedrooms finished downstairs.  My father, and probably with Niels' help, took on the job of finishing two additional bedrooms in the unfinished downstairs area.

Karen and Niels lived with us for a couple of years.  Since Karen worked full time, my mother cared for her children during the day.  Often, when I got home from school, I took over the child care so that my mother could do some errands.

The downstairs kitchen and living space got more use when later, my sister-in-law moved in with her children.  My brother, David, was in the Army and had been sent to Korea for a period of time.  Ramona lived with us while he was gone. Eventually, the large bedroom downstairs was taken over by my father for his office.

My parents never really told me why they decided to move to a new home in 1962.  But, looking back, perhaps they knew that there would be a need to help some of their married children by providing child care and housing.  We hadn't lived in the new house too long before Karen and Niels moved in.  So I'm guessing that the multi generational living arrangement had been discussed as part of the decision process.

We all lived happily together - grandparents, a married sister, her husband and family, me and my younger brother.

Monday, July 25, 2011


The kitchen in the new house was a big improvement for my mother. She loved the layout.  According to her, a U shaped kitchen was the most efficient design. I know that when she and my father built a new house in Utah, she was adamant about having a U shaped kitchen.

She loved her electric, double wall ovens.  No more lighting the oven pilot light with a match whenever she wanted to bake.  Those double ovens got a lot of use when she baked and cooked big meals like Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner.   The turkey could be cooking away in one oven and she could bake rolls and other dishes in the other.  She also used the second oven as a warming oven.

The kitchen had a gas cook top.  She could have had electric which was the latest and greatest new thing back then..  But she wanted gas so that she'd have a way to cook should the power ever go out.  Smart woman.  I don't know if the power ever went out making it necessary for her to use only the cook top.  But she was prepared, just in case. But probably the biggest thing in the new kitchen was the dishwasher.  No more hand washing of dishes! Even I learned to love having a dishwasher.

The kitchen was big enough for a good size table under the window and with room to spare for my mother's sewing machine next to it.  Overall, it was a good kitchen arrangement....a dream kitchen of the early 1960s.

Saturday, July 23, 2011


The new house that we moved into in the summer of 1962 was at 6308 Columbia Pike in the Lake Barcroft area of Fairfax county, Virginia.  Lake Barcroft was a large man-made lake surrounded by homes.  The people with a lot of money had lakefront homes.  The further away your house was from the lake put you a little further down the scale of exclusiveness.  Columbia Pike was a main, multi-lane road that bordered the area.  Our house was on the Columbia Pike frontage road and still considered in the Lake Barcroft...but just barely.  The dam that formed the lake was also on Columbia Pike.  My father used to joke that we lived on the Dam road.
The new house... 48 years later.
My parents purchased the house while it was still under construction.  My mother must have had a great time picking out paint, carpet and other finishes.  The only input I had was the color of my bedroom.  I picked pink...a very bright pink.  When the paint was put on the walls, it was so bright that when viewed from the hallway, the room had a neon like glow.  The problem was solved by painting the wall that faced the hall white.  The other walls reflected on that wall and made it appear to be a pale pink.

The house was a rambler constructed from used brick.  That meant that there were several different colors of brick on the house - shades of red, brown, black, white, and off white. The driveway curved in front of the house, with two entrances from the street.  This house was probably close to my mother's dream house.  She finally had a house with an entrance hall and master bedroom bath. I know that she loved the kitchen with all its bells and whistles that included a dishwasher.  The house even had the latest technology.  A Nutone Hi-Fi Radio/Intercom system made it possible to have music through out the house.  The main unit was in the kitchen, with speakers in the bedrooms and at the front door.  However, I don't remember the system being used for anything other than a radio.

 When entering the home, you could walk straight ahead and, slightly to the right, to the living room, which was on the back of the house.  The entrance to the kitchen was on the right of the entry with the kitchen facing the street.  The formal dining room was next to the kitchen, also facing the street.  The dining room was also an "L" extension of the living room. The open stairs to the basement were directly opposite the front door.  A decorative railing provided the necessary barrier between the living room and stairs.

The hallway to the bedrooms was on the left at the end of the entry.  The main bathroom was on the left side, with my parents room at the end of the hall on the left.  The glowing pink bedroom was at the end on the right.  My brother's room opened to the hall on right.  The bedrooms and bath were bigger than in the previous house.  All the bedrooms had large closets as well. Both of the kids rooms had large windows that faced the backyard.

In the living room, there were sliding glass doors that opened to a deck that ran the entire length of the back of the house.  I don't think we spent much time out there and I don't remember if there was ever any outdoor furniture on the deck.

Downstairs there were two large finished rooms and a bathroom.  The room on the right at the bottom of the stairs was the recreation room.  There was an area in that room that was designated as a wet bar in the original design of the house.  But since, there would be no need for a wet bar in our family, my parents made changes to the plans by putting bookshelves at either end of the area and a built in bench against the wall between the bookcases. The room on the left side of the stairs was quite big and was more or less the guest room. The laundry room was also downstairs.

The lot that the house was on sloped from the front yard down to the back yard.  The basement was thus a walk-out through sliding glass doors from the recreation room.  There was a patio outside the sliding glass doors.  But  I don't think it was used for much.

It was a lovely home. Especially after my mother put all her finishing touches on it.  She made all the window coverings for the home.  There were floor length drapes in the living room, dining room, and the downstairs recreation room.  She made cafe curtains for the kitchen, my bedroom and my brother's bedroom.  Fabric Roman shades were made for the bathroom windows and the master bedroom windows.  There were no venetian blinds or roller shades on any of the windows.  They were considered old fashioned at the time.

My parents lived in that house until the summer of 1968.  Even though my younger brother was still in high school, they  uprooted him.  But this time, it wasn't a move to a new house a few miles away. My father had retired from his long career with the Bureau of Public Roads and even though they hadn't lived in Utah for more than 40 years, they moved back.  Once a Utahn, always a Utahn, I guess.  Well, I understand that. Because if I'm asked where I'm from, I always say, "Northern Virginia" or "suburban Washington DC".  I haven't lived there for more than 40 years.

Note:  I found the above picture online in Google images when I was looking for pictures of Lake Barcroft.  The house is for sale.  There were a few interior pictures. The kitchen had been remodeled with an archway above the kitchen sink area into the living room.  It looked weird. There were hardwood floors as well.  The upstairs deck had been expanded off the living room. For $650,000, we could buy a former family home. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Back in my olden days, there weren't the plethora of amusement parks like we have today.  Disneyland opened when I was in elementary school, but it was on the other side of the country.  We didn't have a local place like Lagoon.  But we did have Glen Echo Park.
Glen Echo Park was located in suburban Maryland.  Looking back on the place, it was small and charming.  But it had everything that a kid or teenager would want for fun and amusement.  We probably made at least one trip a year to Glen Echo Park.  I seem to remember that some of those outings were related to church activities.

 The rides were fun, but probably by today's safety standards, quite dangerous.  There was a ride called "The Whip".  One called the "Cuddle Up". There were roller coasters, bumper cars, an airplane ride, swimming pool with a sandy beach, a midway and picnic areas.  There was also a fun house with a large wooden slide that you rode down on while sitting on burlap bags.  In the fun house, there was also a large spinning table top like thing.  To get your fun and thrill, you sat down on this thing and tried to stay on it as it spun faster and faster.  There were probably some injuries as kids went flying off, unable to hang on.  I remember a mirrored maze where you could easily loose your way.

The bumper cars were really fun.

The Cuddle Up was probably a favorite of teenagers "in love".

The midway with the Airplane ride in the middle. "The Whip" is in the lower right corner.

I never went on this big roller coaster.  I was too chicken. I still don't like roller coasters.
But my very favorite ride was the carousel.  The carousel was wonderful.  When you rode the carousel, on every rotation, you passed a device that was loaded with metal rings.  As you passed the device, a carousel rider would reach out and grab a ring.  The ring machine was loaded with plain metal rings and one brass ring.  If you were lucky enough to grab the brass ring, you got a free ride.

From what I could find online, Glen Echo Park was closed in 1968.  But through the efforts of a local foundation, many elements have been or are in the process of being restored.  The carousel was one of them. Isn't it beautiful and charming?

Glen Echo was a delightful place.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


The fall of 1962 found me in a place that I had never been before.  I was the new kid at school.  I started my junior year of high school at JEB Stuart High School and  I didn't know anyone.  I had never had to worry in the past about making friends or trying to fit in at school.  I went to school with kids from my neighborhood and ward that I had known a long time. I had absolutely no skills when it came to making new friends.  I was totally lost.

I was nervous and scared as I walked in the doors of high school on that first day.  It was hard enough that I had to find my way around a new school.  But not having anyone that I knew to at least help me find my way from class to class made the experience even worse.  I was also upset that even though I'd been accepted into the A Capella choir at my old high school, I was put in girls chorus at the new school.  I was told it was because I was basically an unknown quantity in the choral music department. I had to prove myself.  It was like adding insult to injury. 

On that first day of school, I discovered that I did know at least one person.  When roll was called in one of my classes, a girl who had been a pretty good friend in elementary school was in the class.  We made the connection. She was a cheerleader and in the very popular crowd at school.  And as high school cliques go, they weren't going to just include me in their group because I was Ann's friend from elementary school.  Again, I had to prove myself.

I floundered through most of my junior year trying to fit in and make friends.  Thank goodness that I had associations with the kids from LDS Seminary and my ward or the year probably would have been a total disaster.  I also vowed to myself, that if I could at all help it, I would never make any children that I had change high schools with only two years left.  It was just too hard for me.  I knew it would be hard for them.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


In the summer of 1962, I had no idea that a big change was coming in my life.  I spent that summer living away from home during the week working as a nanny.  On one of my weekends at home,  my parents told me that they had bought a new house and that we were moving before school started.   They had bought a brand new home, several miles away.  The move would mean that I would be going to a different high school and a different LDS ward.

I was stunned and upset.  I didn't want to move away from all my  friends.  I certainly didn't want to change schools for the last two years of high school.  I wasn't the least bit excited about a new, bigger, house, with a dishwasher, that was in a more upscale neighborhood that bordered a lake. To me, our house was just fine. But I had no say in the decision.  As a teenager, my life as I knew it was over.

Since I was gone from home during the week, my mother did most of the packing and clearing out of the home where we had lived for 14 years.  Having made many such moves as an adult, I know that it was a lot of work for her.  But back then, I had no concept of what had to be done.  She even took on getting my things ready for the move.

I came home one week and discovered that during the week she had gone through my bedroom and packed up most of my things.  But she didn't just pack up everything that I had. She had gone through my childhood treasures and trinkets and got rid of many things.  That was like pouring salt into the wound that I already had to deal with about moving.  I was very angry and crying as I asked her, "How could you do that with out asking me?".  It was like she had just thrown away my memories on top of making me move from the only home I had known.  It was devastating.

Ever since then, I haven't been much of a keeper of "things".  I guess my mother's actions told me that things and stuff that make memories aren't that important.  Keepsakes aren't important.  But, I have regretted that I didn't have my dolls and the clothes that my mother had made for the dolls to pass on to my daughters and granddaughters. I didn't keep the dresses that my girls were blessed in to pass on to their daughters.  I didn't keep the dress with hand smocking that my mother made for my oldest daughter when that daughter was about two. What a shame.  In all the moves that I've made as a married adult, it really wouldn't have taken much to pack away a few special things. But, I didn't.

The move to the new house happened during the week while I was living away from home.  I left on Sunday evening from the old house and came back on Friday evening to the new house. I don't even think that I got much of a chance to say goodbye to friends.  There was one bright spot in the move.  I would still see my church friends at early morning Seminary every day.  It turned out that some of my church friends families also bought new homes and moved from the ward that same summer. We were all sad that our life long associations were being broken up and that we'd have to forge ahead in a new school and ward.

Friday, July 15, 2011


Back in my olden days, only really rich people had employees that they called Nannies.  The rest of us who took care of other people's children were called babysitters. During the summers of my high school years, I had a job as a babysitter.

My mother had an adult, married cousin with two children, who lived in the area. The first summer that I worked for the family, they lived close enough to us that I was dropped off at their house every day and came back home when the parents got home from work.  The next summer, however, the family had moved a little further away and travel time was a factor.  So I lived with them from Sunday evening until Friday evening.

My duties were pretty simple....take care of the two elementary school age children during the day, fix them lunch, and keep things in order around the house. For this I got paid $25 a week.  When they moved further away, I also had the perk of taking the kids to the local swimming pool when ever they wanted to go.  Occasionally, I did a little extra housework and got paid  another $5 or $10 a week.

$25 a week doesn't sound like a lot of money today.  But I thought I was really raking it in.  Today, I wouldn't be surprised if parents pay a babysitter $25 for just a few hours of babysitting in the evening.