After my brother was born, and after my father had established himself in a law firm, my parents finally were able to buy a home of their own in Portland, Oregon. This 1937 Cape, two bedroom, one bathroom, galley kitchen, unfinished attic space and unfinished basement was it. We moved in July, 1950, with me 3 and my brother 6 weeks old.
At the time, this area was still fairly undeveloped, though it had been platted for future growth. They bought the lot next door and were able to make money from a later sale to a builder. The lot was deep in the back, allowing for a very large vegetable garden, abutting the gravel road which ran behind our home. The area was full of kids, as every place was in the 1950’s. My granddaughter laughs at the phrase, “baby boom,” but clearly that was the reality of those days. People were having babies as quickly as humanly possible. On two blocks of my street alone there were four boys my same age as well as numerous siblings.
I have clear memories of my years here from 1950 to 1955, from age 3 to age 8. Here I began elementary school, riding the big yellow bus with all the other kids. Supervision of kids was much more lackadaisical then, and we wandered from house to house. Someone’s mother probably knew where we were. We certainly had no sense of fear of strangers or cars.
I shared a room with my brother until I was considered old enough to sleep upstairs. Eventually, after my first sister was born, my brother joined me in another twin bed with matching cowboy bedspreads. The attic was never converted into rooms, but the walls were finished and we shared a portable metal closet. Today when I hear of children not only having their own room but also their own bathroom, I wonder what they are missing. We learned to share and to wait, valuable skills for later life.
When we first moved to New England, I found myself surrounded with Cape houses built in the early 1940’s for all the aircraft workers. The area looked so familiar, as if I had teleported back in time to Palatine Hill Road.