Jerry's View: History in the garden or... Moments in my life

Oh do I have a history? Yes. My dad had a shovel on Russett street in Portland,Ore and used it with Irish skill. He got brother Albert to dig a big garden in our back yard when Albert was not busy as a caddy at Columbia Country Club, not far from Jantzen Beach.

Our backyard was like many in the 30‘s. We had a cesspool with a wooden lid near the garden. Some early owner had put it in when they first got indoor plumbing. It was pretty rotten when my brother Russell flung me down smack dab on the cesspool lid. It broke in half and I managed to grab the edge of the pool as he grabbed me and pulled me out. He didn’t seem that sorry but kept his distance from me all day.

The garden was the pride of the neighborhood. We had corn, string beans, lettuce, carrots, potatoes, radishes and some tomatoes. Those grew best near the green spot in the yard.

We never had chickens to eat but I had two Banty hens that lived in a tiny house laying eggs wherever they liked. We had rabbits and a long wide row of raspberry bushes we often gorged on. So did the Rabbits.

Dad tried to raise those rabbits along the west side of the house. He gave that up after one year. He hated the smell of the cages, though the rabbits never seemed to mind. Mom would never go near them. Eventually she had to skin one but would not eat it when she put it into a stew for us kids and dad.

Best of all we had a giant Gravenstein apple tree which was loaded every year. We climbed it and ate a million green ones and sold them in August on the corner of Lombard and Vancouver avenue (50 cents for a big box).They were great but full of ugly worms so you had to be careful and not get a worm in your mouth. Ugh! Dad never had the money to have the tree sprayed.

We had six huge walnut trees lining the unpaved driveway. We gathered millions of nuts and dried them, shells and all, in a ventilator in the dining room ceiling. They made a mess on the dining room floor for mom to sweep up. She was a dining room angel. Still is I bet.

Some times my big sister Bernice would take Dad's old Essex and go someplace. One day he came home and parked it in the street. Bernice took it and came home after dark and hit one of the walnut trees. It woke everybody up as a million nuts landed on our shingle roof and sounded like thunder.

One other time Dad parked it in the front on the street. Russell took dad’s keys from the house and ran out to drive it. He was 14. Bernice saw that and ran out as Russ was pulling forward. She grabbed the rear bumper and fell, skinning her knees pretty bad. We called her burnt knees which she did not think was funny.

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