I grew up in a two bedroom, one bath house in the Florence Park neighborhood about five miles from downtown Tulsa.
My parents closed on the house on April 11, 1959, just a few months before I was born.
It wasn’t fancy, but it was home to me for almost 32 years. I have many fond memories of growing up in that home and anytime I’m back in Tulsa, I always drive by and take a look.
The house included a two-car detached garage that was filled with boxes of old clothes, tools and fishing and camping gear. There was an old Admiral chest freezer as well. When I was older, the seal on the freezer door gave up the ghost, so my dad used the weights from my barbell set to keep the door closed. It was quite an ordeal to get food out of the freezer.
In junior high school, I built a club house in the garage attic, which was accessible from a stationary ladder on the back wall of the garage. My club house featured a cot and sleeping bag, a bean bag chair, board games and even electricity with lights and a radio. I carpeted it using carpet square samples I got at a nearby carpet store. One of my prized possessions was a poster of Rachel Welch hanging on the ceiling.
There was also a clothesline in the backyard. It featured four or five metal wires strung from two large, heavy metal poles. There was a wooden birdhouse on one end that my dad helped me build. He also hung some of his old antique water well pullies and antique tools on the clothesline posts. At the other end were two decorative pink flamingos stuck in the ground. I have no idea where my parents bought the flamingos, but they were there for many years.
Even though we had a washer and dryer, my mom, who did all the laundry, often used the clothesline on nice days.
I can still see her using a washrag to clean the clothesline off before hanging the wash out. The bag of clothespins hung nearby. I can still see all the clothing items blowing in the breeze on a hot Oklahoma summer day.
My mom had an old antique Maytag ringer washer in the garage. Once a year, she’d dig it out, wash it off, plug it in and we’d spend a Saturday washing quilts, bedspreads and other heavy clothing items from the winter months. It was a family affair for sure.
She’d wash the items, run them through the hand-cranked ringer and then hang them on the clothesline to dry. I remember helping many times.
My dad took lots of pride in the yard and spent hours tending to a small garden in back and mowing the grass. In 1962, my parents remodeled the kitchen and had custom cabinets built right into the house. The remodel project included the addition of a Frigidaire Flair Imperial electric range and oven. It was almost space age like as it pulled in and out of the wall.
They later added a dish washer and garbage disposal and some years later, they had custom shelving built in the dining room. My mom displayed her many family heirlooms on the shelves.
In the early days, we had a floor furnace, but it quit working so my folks took it out. They installed a heater in the hallway. There were also gas heaters in the bathroom and kitchen and gas logs in the fake chimney in the front room.
When I was age 10, my parents bought a window air conditioner and it was an added plus on hot summer days. The house also featured a large attic fan, a common sight in southern homes before air conditioning. Back in the day, folks would open the large windows and turn on the attic fan to keep cool. After we got the air conditioner, we used it during the day and turned it off at night. We opened all the windows and fired up the attic fan.
Sometime in the early 70s, my mom had a small addition added to the house and part of that work included a new four stair central heating unit and water heater.
I learned to ride my bicycle in the driveway and built stick forts out front by the big oak tree where I played with my Matchbox cars. And anytime I got a spanking at school, I got one when I stepped through the double French doors into the living room. Ouch!
I enjoyed many home cooked meals in that house and family backyard barbecues with family and friends. And we had many wonderful family Christmases, birthday gatherings and anniversary celebrations at that house. After I graduated from high school, my family gathered in the dining room for cake and ice cream.
And to this day, I can tell you most of the names of the neighbors on my block and where they lived. We all looked out for each other. My dad and I mowed their yards and my mom and I tossed the daily newspaper on their porches in the 1970s.
It was a small house, but it was filled with love and lots of memories of good times along the way.
Have a great week and take care of yourself, my friends. And always remember that “Good Things are Happening,” every day and always.