Moving South

Three weeks after Judy was born we were transferred from Roundup Montana to Houston Texas. Houston was one of the main offices of Cities Service Oil Company and we thought we would be more settled and not have to move every few months.

It was freezing at night in Roundup Montana so I dressed the girls in their winter clothes and their winter underwear for the trip. We all had on our coats and extra mittens were readily available in a suitcase in the back seat of the car. The farther south we went the warmer it got. I must admit we were loving it.

It was raining and 95 degrees when we arrived in Houston, We got there just in time to get caught in the five o'clock traffic. There were more people in the city of Houston than there were in the whole state of Montana. Traffic was terrible, we didn't know our way and didn't see any motels. I don't think it would have made a difference if we had seen a motel because we didn't see anyplace to get off the freeway. We would up in a motel in Galveston Texas. We spent several nights in the motel while we looked for a house to rent in Houston. '-"

City Service Oil Company sent us a map of the city before we left Montana and told us what part of town would be the most appropriate part of town for us to live in. We found a two bedroom rent house on a dead end street. The street ended at the catholic school. I especially liked that because Pat would start to school in another week.

The neighbors were very friendly. The day we were moving in they all came to introduce themselves and tell us what a great neighborhood we would be living in. I was busy talking and with all the moving etc I wasn't paying to much attention to Pat and Mickie. I thought they were in their new house looking at their new bedroom. I soon saw Pat but Mickie was missing. I began to panic when one of my new neighbors said "Don't worry, She's probably over yonder by the bayou." I said" How far is over yonder and what's a bayou?" I thought I must be in some foreign country. I sent Pat to look for her and she found her in a house across the street. A little girl Mickies age asked her to come in and watch television. Televisions were still very new back then and not everyone had a set so to get to watch TV was a real treat.

Our house was small by today's standard but at that time it was medium size with three bedrooms, living room kitchen and bath. We bought our first furniture. A local furniture company advertised a house full of furniture for a very reasonable price. The furniture was pretty simple and made out of wood and we used it for many years. . .

One of the first things I noticed when we moved south was how slow everyone walked and how they all went bare footed at home. I thought "What lazy people." Six months later I was walking just as slow as they were. The heat and humidity were very depressing .

Houston was very lush with flowers and beautiful trees everywhere. I didn't realize that along with all the lush vegetation there would be a lot of bugs. One day while I was fixing lunch in the kitchen I saw a big bug about two inches long running across the floor. I got the broom and tried to hit it but it was to fast for me. I called Pat to come in and help me kill that bug. I got up on a chair because I was afraid the dang thing was going to run up my leg. I took the mop and had Pat stand on another chair with a broom. , We were determined to comer that bug and kill it. About that time Jean came home for lunch and saw Pat and I up on the chairs with our weapons. He asked what the hell we were doing. I told him about the huge bug which by this time was running along the baseboard. He saw it and said" It's only a cockroach. They don't bite". Believe me I saw many many cockroaches after that but I don't remember ever seeing one up north.

We bought our first television later that year. We were so fascinated that we even watched the commercials. The TV was not working most of the time with the notice "One Moment please" .splashed across the screen. The one moment please meant many hours. The television tubes also burned out often. Jean would have to take off the back of the set and take several of the tubes to the local U- Tote-um store to be tested because you didn't know which one or maybe two were burned out. After Jean got the tubes back in ,the picture had to be re adjusted so we took the mirror from the bedroom dresser and one of the kids stood in front of the set holding the mirror while Jean looked in the mirror and worked on the readjustment from the rear. It took a lot of time to keep the television up and running but we all thought it was worth it.

Television shows were pretty simple and always had a message telling kids how to be good and behave. The kids watched shows like Howdy Doody Time, The Mickie Mouse Club, and Father Knows Best. One evening we all watched the Peter Pan movie. As the show is ending Tinker Bell throws fairy dust on the audience so they will be able to fly.. After the show the girls went into their bedroom when all of a sudden I hear a loud crash and Mickie is crying. I ran in and asked what happened. Mickie had climbed onto the dresser and jumped off. She was crying because she fell and, as she said, "I didn't get any fairy dust like the rest of the kids did."

Our next door neighbors Fritz and Betty Mathis were an interesting couple. Fritz Mathis was in medical school and had two more years to go. They had twin boys the same age as Judy so they played together a lot. One day Betty went to the store and along with her usual supply of food she bought baby aspirin. Baby aspirin tasted like candy so the kids liked it. The twins started playing with the bottle and somehow got it open. Bottles didn't have a safety cap like they do now. Aspirin were spilled everywhere on the front porch and onto the lawn As each twin took an aspirin they gave one to Judy so she was getting a double dose. We found and counted as many pills as we could but by no means did we find them all. Fritz was studying at home at the time and he decided Judy should have her stomach pumped because no one was sure how many of the pills she had swallowed. Judy had her stomach pumped at the local hospital and did fine.

We stayed in the rent house about a year when we decided we had paid enough rent and decided to buy a house of our very own. Once again we found a house in the suburbs on a dead end street and with a school only a half block away. This time we had a living room, dining room, three bedrooms, bath, and a den. The den and the kitchen were the most lived in rooms in the house because the den held the television. Now that I think about it, I don't think we spent to much time in the den either because the TV stations were not on the air full time only a short time mid morning and again in the afternoon.

All of our new neighbors were young couples. The husbands had come home from the second world war only a short time earlier. There were babies everywhere and Jean and I were no exception .I became pregnant once again. This time I was in the city and didn't have to worry about maternity care or how far I'd need to go to get to the hospital. Another baby girl was born on February 3rd 1954. We decided we wanted to name her Carole but we didn't know if the name had an E at the end of the name or not. We asked the nurses but they didn't know either so we left the e on. Later we found out that the name Carol was without an e but that the Christmas carole's had an e. To this day Carole likes her name. Once again a ten day stay in the hospital was required.

The doctors and the health department seemed to be obsessed with cleanliness. I wanted to be the perfect mom so I followed the rules. A baby had to be bathed at a certain time everyday. Bathing the baby every day was essential for the babies good health. Baby bottles had to be sterilized and the water to make the formula had to also be sterilized by boiling the water for a certain number of minutes. Taking care of the baby took a lot of time. I had baby bottles and baby equipment all over the kitchen.

Carole was a good baby and it's a good thing because when she was five months old I found myself pregnant again. I tried to give Carole extra attention because I knew she wasn't going to be an only baby for long. Jean and I tried to get her to walk before her first birthday and before the next baby arrived but we weren't having much luck. One day Judy came by pushing the doll carriage. Judy put Carole's hands on the handle of the buggy and low and behold Carole could walk just fine as long as she had her hand on the buggy and didn't need help from anyone..

I washed and ironed all the baby girl clothes. I didn't feel any different with this pregnancy than I did with any of the previous pregnancies so I knew I'd be having another girl which was Ok with me but I knew Jean would like to have a boy. I went to the hospital late in the afternoon but after I got there the contractions stopped so I thought I would be going home. The doctor came in, gave me a sleeping pill and that's all I remember until the following morning when Jean was trying to wake me up says "It's a boy, Katy". He kept repeating it and I was thinking I wish he'd shut up. I know it's a boy. We decided on the name William because my dad's name was William and Jean's dads name was Wilhelm.

When we took Bill home, all his sisters were waiting for him with the mumps. They were not real sick but they sure didn't look like they felt to good. I asked if they were surprised to have a baby brother. Mickie said "You all might be surprised but I'm not, because I've been kneeling at the crib praying for a boy." Ah! what faith.

Our neighbors were all out of Towner's just like we were. Hope and Jane Adams were from Lansing Michigan. Mark and Margaret Lillick were from Denver and Iowa, Dottie and Dick Millan were from New York and so forth right down the block. Since no one had immediate family we sorta made our own family we all worked and played together and when anyone needed help we all pitched in.

Window unit air conditioners were the newest thing but nobody in our area had a unit in the main part of their houses. If they had one it was in the bedroom so people could sleep better at night. We all spent a lot of time outdoors. The wives hurriedly did the housework early in the morning before it got to hot and then met on our front lawn. We spread a blanket on the lawn and let the babies and the mothers sit on it while the older children ran around riding their tricycles, jumping rope, or showing off some of their new tricks like doing summer saults. By noon we were all inside fixing lunch and it was getting to hot to have the babies outside.

Our back yard seemed pretty big at that time but when I saw it years later it was actually pretty small It was fenced, thank heavens, so I could let the little ones play in the yard without me being with them every minute. The back fence was lined with crepe Jasmine bushes I thought they were gardenias because they looked and smelled like gardenias. When Bill was three he liked to play around the bushes with his toy cars, trucks, tractor and even a dirt grader .He did the usual things making dirt roads in and around the bushes. One morning he started frantically yelling for me. I ran out the back door to find him surrounded by bees. I took my apron and began flapping at the bees to get them off of him. When I finally got off as many bees as I could I grabbed him up ,wrapped him in the apron and ran in the house. I immediately took him to the doctors office. I was in a panic, thinking he sure would die with as many stings as he had but the doctor said no. If he was allergic to them his throat would be swollen and he would be having a hard time breathing. We counted 32 bee stings on his back, arms and face. The doctor gave him a shot and sent us home.

The ladies on the block got together and started a bridge club which met every Wednesday evening. The men could stay at home and baby sit but if they needed mom she would be nearby. At this time the men were still considered the breadwinners. I didn't know of any married women who worked outside of the home so it was good therapy for the mom to get away from the kids for a couple of hours.

We had a large German shepherd dog named Duke. We had him only a short time before Bill was born. Bill and Duke became buddies and Duke followed Bill everywhere. Jean built a large dog house for Duke which he seldom used. One day Bill was playing out in the back yard and got in trouble for digging up some of the newly planted shrubs. I went to the back door and started yelling at Bill to come in the house. Bill ran into the dog house. Duke sat down right in front of the dog house door and wouldn't move. He just sat there as if to say "I dare you" I left well enough alone because I really wasn't quite sure what Duke would do if push came to shove.

Jean drove the car to work most days but if the kids had a doctor appointment or we needed to grocery shop he rode the bus, The bus came by the nearest main thoroughfare every fifteen minutes. I'd take Jean to the bus stop and drop him off. At first he didn't like to ride the bus but after awhile he decided it was less trouble riding the bus than finding a place to park the car.

The Saint Charles catholic church in our area was also new. The mass was being held in a temporary building which held about 100 people. Jean sang in a four man group in high school ( which won the state gold medal) and also sang in college so he joined the choir. The choir was small but very good. The priest was very friendly and everyone liked him. I wish I could remember his name so I could give him credit for a job well done.

Mass was still said in latin. When Bill was four or five years old the priest would sing certain parts of the mass and the choir would respond. One Sunday as mass was in progress at the appropriate time before the priest sang anything Bill sang with must gusto the priest part "Dominus V osbiscum". Everyone in church laughed including the priest. The Choir answered "Et cum spiritu tuo". Translated into English means. "The lord be with you." and the response is, "And with thy spirit." Carole came out of church one Sunday and said" I know what they are saying". The are singing "Here comes fairy two two oh!"