The house that was my home for 12 years had a quite large cherry tree in the back yard. Each year I was allowed to go higher on the ladder to pick the sweet/sour red berries. After the picking Mom made tasty cherry cobbler and cherry pies. She also preserved them in Mason jars and used some to make jelly.
Our home was on Mooberry Street and at some point after we moved out, there was a fire and the property became a cavity filled with weeds. In recent years a house from a similar neighborhood was moved in and fits the style of homes already still there. These two story houses so close to each other are now very close to a busy interstate highway.
Mom and Dad were very proud the day they made a down payment on their first house. It was in the 1930’s. On my first birthday Dad began what would be an annual event for my sister and me. He planted two spindly maple trees — one for my older sister and one for me. Every year on my birthday he photographed us standing next to our maple trees. By the time I was twelve and packing to move I remembered with joy how these trees grew. In the spring they produced these wonderful miniature flying machines, and fall brought the vibrant red leaves. Raking wasn’t much fun but jumping in the piles certainly was.
In the basement my dad had installed a complete woodworking shop. The tools hanging on pegboard were in order by size and purpose — every hammer and screwdriver had a specific location. He was a master at organization, paying attention to the finest detail.
Dad found 24 wooden cheese boxes and stacked them in a wooden frame. They held every conceivable nail, screw, washer, nut and bolt. Of course each box was labeled.
One of my favorite spots during my elementary school years was in the workshop sitting on a high stool with a round wooden seat, simply watching my dad. Come fall Dad would spend many hours cutting a variety of wooden shapes. Every piece was carefully cut on the jigsaw following the pencil traced lines. It was then sanded and painted a bright color. Mom and I helped when it was time to assemble the various shapes into toys that were donated to an organization that distributed them to families who would be unable to buy Christmas toys for their children.
As I matured I was allowed to use the various tools and machines. Dad would show me what to do and then it was my responsibility to clean what I used, replace tools to their proper places and vacuum the sawdust. I remember creating a small wooden boat I proudly made and painted green. It actually floated.
If I had been born a boy, I think my dad would have encouraged me to follow his career path. He worked at Federal Glass Company, as did my mother, her father, and several brothers. Mom was a secretary there, but when my parents married, she had to quit because of a rule that only one of a couple could have a job there. In the early 1940’s Dad and a friend formed a business they named Manifold and Phalor Machine Company. They repaired and designed many types of machinery. The business thrived with their motto, “If you can’t buy it, we’ll make it.”
Dad worked 50 weeks a year and Mom maintained our home. During his two weeks of summer vacation, from 1941-1951 we loaded the car and drove to a new state park called Lake Hope. It was a part of Zaleski State Forest in southeastern Ohio. It took forever to get there. Log cabins were rented to families, and I have many happy memories of returning year after year to a place I loved.
I vividly recall a concrete platform which served as a “look-out” over the vast forest. A trail led to the lake where we frequently journeyed for an afternoon swim. One summer, perhaps when I was ten, new cabins were being built and each one was constructed from a different type of wood. We gathered samples from each site. After returning home Dad cut them all to the same dimensions, sanded and glued them to a board, then placed a label below. It didn’t take long for me to recognize the difference between cherry and walnut along with the others.
My childhood memories of Lake Hope are vivid. I still smell the logs burning in the fireplace and watching the embers as they cooled. Mom fixed our meals and every evening we played cards or board games. Children whose parents take time and initiative for experiences of this type are fortunate indeed, as I was.