Learning From The Past and Living the Simple Life
I have a remarkable support system in my life; I am surrounded by caring, loving people who think as I do. In other words they are not impressed by possessions but rather by the quality of life I have spoken about in previous articles.
As I think back I have always had a similar support system. I have loved ones in my life who have had horrendous childhoods but I did not; rather, my childhood was just about as good as a childhood could be with loving parents, family and good friends. My family always seemed to struggle financially but we had an abundant supply of good values and supportive love and I’ll settle for that any day of the week and twice on Sunday.
Bev and I decided to take advantage of some beautiful Washington weather to head back to my childhood neighborhood and I remembered this time to take my camera, so if you care to, grab a seat, maybe a cold drink and enjoy a journey back in time COMPLETE with pictures. It will almost be like you were on the trip with us as I will serve as your narrator and guide. I promise some informative and charming stories of life in the 50’s and 60’s and as an added bonus the pictures turned out pretty good.
So are you ready? Buckle your seatbelt, get as comfortable as possible and let’s head south to Tacoma, Washington. This is a special vehicle you are riding in as it has the ability to travel back in time; it may get a bit bumpy along the way but I promise you’ll be safe.
I was born October 13, 1948 and adopted nine months later by Evelyn and Dale Holland. The first picture you will see to the right is the apartment house my family lived in at that time. They had recently moved to Tacoma from Charles City, Iowa after my dad’s discharge from the Army. He had just found work at Pioneer Sand & Gravel as a general laborer, a job he would hold for twenty-one years until his death, and they were saving money to buy their own home.
Mom was settling into housewife duties after working as a welder in a shipbuilding factory during WWII and my sister Darlys was at this time eleven years old and judging from old pictures she was a beauty.
OUR FIRST HOME
Check out the second picture and you will see the first home my parents owned. We lived there until I was five years old and my first family memories are associated with this tiny house. I remember my first dog Sugar and I clearly remember my dad playing catch with me after work. He would come home, grab the gloves and he would throw me grounders and fly balls on the front lawn. Remember, at this time I was maybe three or four, so my love of baseball began early and more importantly the bond between father and son was strengthened during those nightly baseball clinics.
Sugar eventually ran away (or maybe she was hit by a car and my parents didn’t want to tell me) and after three years we moved as a family to the house I would live in during my “formative years” on 18th & Monroe Streets.
A GREAT NEIGHBORHOOD
For the next twenty years I lived in this post-war brick three-bedroom home and if there was a better neighborhood for a boy to grow up in I can’t imagine what it would be. The neighbors were supportive (except for Mr. Steitz who may have been the meanest man alive) and there were at least ten other kids around my age to play with, kids I formed friendships with and spent thousands of hours with over the next twenty years.
I remember that the yard was a mess when we moved in and dad and I and other neighbors spent many hours putting in rockeries and cement walls and landscaping to make the house and property a real home. What still remains in my memory-banks today is that it seemed whenever dad and I would head out to work on the landscaping inevitably a neighbor would walk over and lend a hand. It was just that kind of neighborhood, a small community of good folk who looked out for each other. It was just assumed that a kind deed would be re-paid at some point down the road. I like that concept!
My parents gave me a puppy shortly after we moved into this house. I named her Pixie and she was with me until I was twenty-one when we finally had to put her down.
TAKE A WALK WITH ME
See the baseball field? That is where I pitched my first game in Little League at the age of eleven. I pitched for the Knights of Pythias (I’ll never know what that means) and spent many a summer afternoon and evening throwing fastballs at guys who were quite eager to ram one back at me.
Walk with me down the streets of Proctor District, my home away from home in those days. See the bowling alley? That’s where I got my first job, repairing lanes during league play. I got paid $2 per hour and all the free bowling I wanted and I thought I had died and gone to heaven. The bike shop was once the Proctor Dime Store and my mother worked there for quite a few years. This was my turf and I still smile at the memories of walking down that sidewalk and having the barber wave at me and other shop owners call me by name, asking me how school was that day. Oh, see the Blue Mouse Theater? That was once the Proctor Theater and you could find me there on many Saturday afternoons watching a double-feature. By the way, tickets are still $5 for adults for first-run movies. Not a bad deal at all if you ask me!
Oh, look in the distance! There is St. Patrick’s Church where I was an altar boy and over there is Bellarmine Prep where I went to high school for an un-distinguished educational career but four pretty good high school baseball seasons. Even then I understood priorities!
LET’S GO A LITTLE FURTHER DOWN THE ROAD
This little house is where my grandmother and grandfather lived, very nice people who doted on me with an almost religious fervor. Every Saturday night the family would meet there and say the rosary together. I would sit in my grandfather’s lap and he would always have a quarter to give me after the rosary was completed. Then I would take the quarter and walk down to the Ruston Grocery Store, which is still there as you can see, and buy some candy.
This house was also strategically located between our house and Point Defiance Park, a sprawling wooded and landscaped park of some renown, filled with trails to ride your bike on, a carnival complete with a boat slide and arcade games and the zoo, always the biggest attraction. I kissed my first girl there; her name was Paula and my knees have never shaken as much as they did that day on one of the trails.
ONE SIDE NOTE OF INTEREST
I mentioned earlier that my dad worked at Pioneer Sand & Gravel for twenty-one years. Take a look at it from a distance, still looking somewhat like a sand pit, but then take a look at it as it looks today up close….it is now Chambers Bay Golf Course, the site of the 2015 United States Open Golf Championship, and one of the finest links golf courses in the United States. My oh my how times have changed!
BACK TO THE NEIGHBORHOOD FOR ONE LAST LOOK
My grandmother came to live with us after her husband died in 1958. Two years later she died in her sleep in this house; nine years later my dad died of a heart attack in the bathroom on a night I luckily was home from college. My mom and I stayed there until 1974 when she re-married and moved into an apartment complex.
At that point I moved out on my own for the first time, saying goodbye to the old neighborhood that had served me so well. It was a fantastic place to grow, a safe harbor where mistakes could be made and forgiveness found. There are only a few of us left now. Dick Gordon, my old buddy, is an executive for Sears; Mrs. Lilly went into real estate after her husband died and she is still in the area. Karl Zetterberg runs a construction company but that is just about it. People lived, people loved, people shared and people died. Such is life!
Oh, I almost forgot to mention Sam and Delores Conrad. That’s their house right next door to ours. You can read about them on my site; their story is called “Sam’s Legacy,” and I think you’ll enjoy it.
I hope you enjoyed my tour. They were good people all; probably even Mr. Streitz had his good points. They were, after all, just humans, doing what humans do. I will forever fondly remember them for their giving and caring spirits, their willingness to lend a hand at any time and for the lessons they passed on willingly to a shy, awkward little five year old. It has been a good life and much of the credit goes to the people of this fine neighborhood in Tacoma, Washington.
2012 Bill Holland (aka billybuc)
- Lifestyle Choices: Homeward Bound
For this author he really could go home again to re-visit lessons learned long ago.
- My Old House
The author has lived in his home for sixty-three years and finally learned to love it!
- Sam's Legacy (A Love Story) Part One
A love story for the ages about two people I was lucky enough to know during my childhood. Part one of two parts.
- Sam's Legacy (A Love Story) Part Two
The final chapter of a love story for the Ages.