At first, when we came to the farm, we lived in the same shingled two-story house with my grandfather, my uncle and his wife, and their two boys - one of whom was my age, the other several years younger. My uncle's family moved into a home they built next door the following year. Then there were just my parents and I - and Grandpa - in our house.

My room was very small on the northwest corner of the upstairs of the house. It looked out into a huge maple tree. It was the room from which the trap door opened into the attic. Although I had been in the attic and seen what it contained, it was unfinished and used mostly for storage. Sometimes at night I would imagine the trapdoor opening in the dark and slowly, slowly I would raise my hand and pull the string above my head to snap on the light. Underneath my bed a long rope coiled with knots in it at intervals. It was tied to the leg of the bed so I could throw it from the window in case of fire.

In the basement of our house my mother stockpiled all the canned fruit and vegetables she produced in the summer. Several times during those years the Willamette River flooded, filling the basement, and everything would have to be carried upstairs. My father and uncle hoisted squealing pigs into the barn loft, and my father rowed to the barn from the back porch of the house to milk the cows in the morning and evening.

Back to Index
Next page