|House in the 1960's|
|House about 1928|
|House showing added back bedroom|
After one of our visits, when my brother was about 2, Big Mom called in a panic to say that she had found an empty container of aspirin in the bedroom where Tim had been playing. We were ready to rush him to the emergency room when somebody thought to unzip his snowsuit, and the pills came rolling out!
Big Mom died in 1962, and soon, by chance, my family was looking for a place to live. After looking at several houses, my grandmother decided that we would just move into the house on 38th St. We made our own modifications to the house, including the addition of a mantel and gas stove in the living room, shelving in the doorway between the living and dining room, closets and doors, opening and widening the stairs to the upper floor, and modernization of the kitchen and bathroom.
|Mantel we brought from the house on 42nd St. and shelving in the doorway|
The property backed up to Red Fork Hill, and a large area at the back of the lots was fenced for the Castles' livestock. Big Mom raised cattle and chickens there, and later my brother would raise bantam chickens, pigeons, and a particularly rambunctious goat named Sugar.
When I remember the house on 38th St., I am as apt to remember the yard as I am the house. Trumpet vines and honeysuckle grew over the chain-link fence and the stump of an old tree near the front porch. (I wrote an especially syrupy poem about the stump when I was in junior high.) We had room to play softball, designating various trees and bushes as the bases, and I remember knocking a pitch from Aunt Jessie right into one of the living room windows. We had a playhouse in the back yard that had originally been the office at one of Uncle George Beebe's parking lots in downtown Tulsa.
|My grandmother and the stump|
|Me and the stump|
But what made a bigger impression on me than the yard or the house was the hill. There was no fear in those days for kids playing outdoors, and I often climbed the hill by myself and enjoyed the woods. After I read Freckles by Gene Stratton Porter, I planted flowers on the hill in a not-very-successful attempt to recreate the sanctuary that Freckles built in the woods.
The hill was also the scene of the most terrifying experience in my life as a mother. When my son was about 4, we were living in a house in Carbondale and came over to visit my grandmother one Saturday. Jason mentioned the hill as we drove up to the house, but I told him to stay in the yard while I went in to tell my grandmother we were there. Four hours later we found Jason a mile up the hill, sleeping in a dry creek bed with my dad's dogs. In his interview with Channel 8 News, he explained, "I was jus' chasin' the dogs." And taking ten years off his mother's life.
After that brief excursion into independent living, I moved back home with my grandmother and dad, and Jason went through 5th grade at Park Elementary School--sent every morning and welcomed home in the afternoon by my grandmother. After she moved into a nursing home in 1990, it got harder and harder to maintain the old house. My brother and I finally sold it. I drive by now and then, but it's just not the same.