As I Remember



Reminiscences of and for the Family

Haircuts and buying shoes were two major difficulties in our young lives. Both Aunt Dodi and I wore our hair in what was called the "Dutch bob," straight bangs and straight hair cut just below the ears. It was "shingled" up the back a bit, and therein was the chief difficulty. The haircuts were administered in the barber shop in the building that is now where Nistly's cleaners establishment is. There were two barbers, one named most appropriately Gene Barber, and the other Mr. Hilway. Gene Barber owned the shop and had the chair by the window in front, right on the street. And there we were, first sitting in line with all the men in town waiting a turn and then boosted up into the chair for all the world to see. The very worst came at the end when Mr. Barber insisted, despite all my pleading, on putting shaving cream on my neck and actually shaving off the hair on the back of my neck-- and way into the top of my blouse, commenting all the time for all the hear that he never saw so much hair except on a money! And every boy in my class wandered by to see me festooned with all that lather and blushing to my heels! How I dreaded haircut days!

Buying shoes, then, was another agony. At first we bought them at Miller's (it later became "The Merc" and now is where the Sears store is). In the back there was a little area with shelves of shoes on display, benches for the patrons and that funny sear that shoe clerks use with a shoehorn and a shoe measurer hanging from it. Buying shoes when we were younger wasn't so bad, but by the time we were 12 and 13 the shoes for young girls were simply atrocious-looking things with cuban heels that only grown women would wear, pointy toes, and ugly styles. Poor Mam, we would sit there and weep and weep as the clerk would bring shoe after shoe, each progressively worse. We would finally settle on the least obnoxious and weep all the way out of the store and into the car. These expeditions usually took place in McMinville, with Mom vowing all the way home that she never intended to accompany us for another pair. More torrents of tears.


Summers on Beach Street in Portland were a real treat for two little girls from the farm! We usually both went together, but one of us would stay with Aunt Anna and Uncle Jake in their cute little hosue and Beach Street, and the other would stay with Uncle Frank and Aunt Minnie on Vancouver Avenue (later they moved to Commercial Ave., just a couple blocks away). Two fantastic delicacies were involved-- introduction to Grape Nuts at Aunt Anna's (we at oatmeal and cornmeal and horrible Cream of Wheat at home) and hot buttered toast at Aunt Minnie's. Mom didn't believe in such, and said teeth should have something to chew on, so toast was always unadorned! In Portland, we played with the neighbor girls, the Rainsfords, who lived across the fence to the back (big blackberry bush covered the fence-- couldn't even see the house beyond) and the Collins, whose house faced Williams Avenue. Mr. Markenon ran the store on the corner of Williams and Beach and he always said the same thing when Aunt Anna and I would come to the counter. "You two must be sisters!" We both thought that was great! Aunt Anna took us for rides on the streetcar (oh, how urban we did feel!) and to the little park in the neighborhood to play in the wading pool. And just down the street, the Williams Bread Bakery filled the air with the delicious aroma of baking bread night and day! On the topmost part of the hills above Portland and right out my bedroom window was Council Crest and the Amusement Park up there. I always hankered to ride on the roller coaster that extended over the brow of the hill-- the lights blinked ever so enticingly every night-- but there Aunt Anna never ventured! I don't remember ever being homesick except for the one time when I was staying with Aunt Minnie and Uncle Frank in the Commercial Avenue house and I fell on the edge of the cement steps in back. I cried like everything and Uncle Frank said he'd spank me if I didn't stop. It hurt dreadfully, and later at home we discovered I had broken mykneecap and I spent long weeks with hot packs and an elevated knee. Saw my first movie in Portland, too, "The Cat and the Canary," and it scared me spitless and I was fearful of movies for years afterward...


This page has had 2853 visits.
Last Modified: 05/01/2000 21:00:35

    As I Remember|my home page