1957 and 1967

So Lynda went up to Montreal for a Dragon Boat Festival race last weekend and visited the site of one of our childhood experiences - Expo '67. She, Lyla and I sorted through our memories and even though we remember having fun we could come up with only a few solid memories. We all remember camping and buying amber. There were a couple of pavilions we remember including the US geodesic domed pavilion, which is still there. Even this very comprehensive web site did not jog many more memories. Lynda took this picture of the dome on her trip.


Now let's talk about other memories. For my birthday my dad sent me a very nice email about what he remembers about the time I was born until I was about 5.


Just a follow up to the card we sent for your birthday. In thinking of all the other things that were going on at that time it occurred to me, yes it was your birthday but it was also our birth day for mom and me.

You were our precious newborn, our second child and we continued on our way to becoming the family we are.

We had just moved into a renovated army barracks on the campus of Lewis College, a lay run Catholic College. It was a comfortable place: rugs over the cement floor, 2 bedrooms, a good sized living room and a small kitchenette with stove, sink, refrigerator and a combination washer/dryer. The window of the living room looked out onto a large grassy field. Looking out the kitchen window we saw our little neighborhood of barracks each with a small plot of grass and flowers between the house and a small sidewalk.It was a nice place to live.

Your baptism was at the church in Lockport. We had a nice reception in the house and on the grassy area outside. Guests were:
Omite and Opapu, my mother and step dad Hughie and Olita and Juris Valainis.
I can’t remember who else. We had just moved there and didn’t know anyone.

As we soon found out the barracks was a duplex separated only by a relatively thin wall. Dr. Judy Mendels and her elderly mother lived on the other side. They obviously were very close and commonly harmonized on Dutch songs while they were doing their supper dishes. Judy is the one who took care of you one time while mom and I (and probably Lyla) went into town, probably Joliet, for something. When we went to pick you up Judy, who was very much like Zita, was typing out her class notes (she taught French and German). She had one end of a 6 foot ribbon tied around the back of her chair and the other around your waste. You didn’t seem to mind it at all and Judy knew she could concentrate on her notes.

It was a good time for us. We had had a good income because I had been awarded a summer scholarship to work with Dr. Wasserman at Argonne Laboratories which was an easy drive away. Dr. W. was a wonderful person. He was Chairman of the Department of Anatomy at the University in Munich before he had to leave Germany being Jew during Hitler’s rule. He was immediately accepted onto the faculty at the University of Chicago and wound up at Argonne with faculty status at the U. of C. We had tea at mid afternoon and he would tell me about his time growing up in Germany.

I believe we only lived in the barracks about 2 years and moved just after or before Lynda joined us into a very comfortable and roomy brick house, still on campus. We were one of the few faculty members who qualified to live there I think it was because we had children. Actually ours was one of a string of 6 of these houses (sometimes alluded to as fertility row). During the war they were probably occupied by military bass.

There was a large grassy field in front to the house and a spacious grassy yard in back. The back was the area where mom and I often reminisce about seeing you frolicking, half dancing half running completely naked in the rain across the grass. Mom says you were like a gazelle, I pictured you as a fairy in Mendelssohn’s Midnight’s Summer Dream. Mom says she knew then you would become a dancer.

Just after Lenore was born we moved to our the old house in Lockport. Its address was 1812 State St. and it probably was built in the late 19th or early 20th Century. The areas where light fixtures were in the ceiling still had gas lines running to them, the floors were slanted. Lyla will remember her upstairs bedroom where she watched out her window as the house across the street almost burned down. We had an old barn in our backyard. It was a cute old house, comfortable enough for the time and now I had a full Fellowship to do research for my Doctorate with Dr. W. at Argonne and Dr. Jones at Loyola, Stritch School of Medicine, Department of Anatomy as Joint Advisors. The stipend allowed us to live comfortable enough and I spent most of my time during the week in the lab. On Sat. I listened to opera and scrubbed floors (a form of excersise), yes hands and knees, a bar of FelsNaptha and a strong brush. John Kennedy was running for nominatrion. You children watched Capt. Kangaroo and Yogibear and Boo Boo and had a neighbor friend named Movi.

Well, this is a kind of stream of consciousness, but things you may not remember when you were very young. I guess you can tell it was more about me than you, but then I do read your blog.

Love ya

I know that's a lot to read but what you should come away with is that I was one of those little kids who once ran like the wind outside buck naked while being chased by my embarrassed parents and that a neighbor/babysitter tied me to a 6 foot ribbon so I would net get into mischief. But what I came away with is a flood of memories.

I remember most the house on State Street.

  • I remember the long driveway with our Rambler parked near the concord grape vine that divided our driveway from the neighbor's.
  • I remember picking and eating those grapes and petting a cat near those grapes when I was supposed to be inside.
  • I remember the screen door that was hooked shut to teach me I shouldn't continue to pet the cat when I am supposed to come inside.
  • I remember my mother putting us all in the bathtub to distract us when the police came to the house because someone was found sleeping in the barn.
  • I remember wood interiors of the house and a basement where we once went when there was a hurricane warning
  • I remember us kids all getting measles and mumps and a doctor that made house calls.
  • I remember stomping on bees in the big gassy yard after one stung either me or Lyla.
  • I remember watching Captain Kangaroo and Saturday morning cartoons.
  • I remember the house across the street burning and the poor family standing outside helpless.
  • I remember the Texaco station nearby with its Texas star sign.
  • I remember there was a candy store nearby but I cannot picture it.

Some of these sound like not so pleasant memories but they really weren't. They were more observations as I started making sense of the world around me.

From Google satellite images there is now a car dealership where the house was.

This picture was taken in the yard. The barn is on the left. I am in the middle on Omite's lap