A New House

Me on the top right with my brother and sisters on the front doorsteps.

My parents rented houses and apartments for their growing family up until I was seven years old. I remember living in six different houses, but there was at least one I don’t remember. Then Daddy decided to buy us a house. A new house. A bigger house. Less than five years old, with three bedrooms and full closets, wood paneling, and a huge yard. Mama was so excited. They financed it with Daddy’s boss and a mortgage for $8000. (This was 1966.)

So I grew up in that house. My brother and two sisters and me. My sisters shared a bedroom with me, and we had three twin beds in one room, just like “The Brady Bunch” sisters. In fact, I idolized Marcia Brady. I wanted to be just like her.


My brother, being the only boy, got a room all to himself. He didn’t stay in there by himself, though. He took great delight in terrorizing his sisters. He and I are only fourteen months apart, so sometimes I got to do things with him that our younger sisters did not. He would build an entire ranch in the dirt pile under a huge oak tree at the corner of our backyard, and allow me to use some of his Tonka trucks to have a ranch near his. He used his wide open hand to make the roads. I always asked him to make mine because I just couldn’t quite get the knack for it.

After moving into that house in May, we played outdoors all summer long, riding bicycles in the asphalt road, making roads in the dirt, playing with the water hose, and running barefoot everywhere. We got poison oak (similar to ivy), chiggers, ticks, wasp stings, pinworms, and sunburns, but we had a blast.

I guess this house was “the house that built me.” What about you? Do you have fond childhood memories? Was there a special childhood home?



When I Was Two (The House That Built Me)

When I was about two years old we lived in an upstairs apartment in Tyler.  I can remember wood floors and watching the TV game show “Concentration” with Mama while she folded clothes.  I remember my brother Allen being a baby, and I also remember looking out of our second story window to see the neighbors’ children playing in the yard. 
Image from here
I also remember that we shared a bathroom in the hallway with another family or couple who was living in another apartment.  I guess that was a shared duplex.  These memories are sketchy at best.
After that we moved to Willow Branch Road near Van.  We always called it the “big house” because it was a large farmhouse with a long central hallway.  During the winter, which was really cold the year I turned three, Daddy and Mama moved all of us into the kitchen and living room in an attempt to stay warmer. 
My brother and I had some good times in that house.  The bedroom at the back of the house became our playroom with nothing in it but our toys.  It seemed huge to us.  There was a large cardboard box that we were supposed to keep our toys in, but we had to be careful digging into it or we would fall in!  Usually it tipped over so we could access our toys.
My brother Allen and me.  People thought we were twins.
The old house had hardwood floors and a long hallway perfect for riding tricycles or pulling our wagon.  One year I received a tiny china tea set from a great aunt and I would arrange the pieces on the tiny tray and carry them down the hall.  One by one those pieces fell off the tray and broke.  No matter how careful I tried to be, my three-year-old hands couldn’t hold it steady enough.  it made me sad.
My brother and I shared the middle bedroom which had walls covered with peeling old wallpaper.  We peeled that paper off slowly when we were supposed to be sleeping or napping.  We would get in so much trouble, especially when Allen would snicker into his hands cupped over his mouth and nose.  His hands would get dripping wet, and then Mama would come in and turn him over her knees for a good spanking.  I guess I got spanked, too, but I really don’t remember.  I didn’t get near as many spankings as my brother did.
My grandmother on the porch of the big house with Sandy.
We also had a dog named Sandy, and another one we named Tarzan-Pinochio.  I guess we couldn’t agree on the name.  Mama read books to us all the time.  One of my favorites was one which was so politically incorrect that they stopped printing it.  Little Black Sambo was the story of a little black boy who receives new clothes and trades each piece to a different tiger in exchange for not being eaten.  At the end of the book the tigers chase each other around a tree until they turn into melted butter.  I recently found a copy of the book in a Louisiana plantation gift shop.  It is being printed again!
Image from here
Such memories.  Stay tuned for more from “the big house.”