Saturday, September 10, 2011

Cars, Then and Now

My granddaughter, Ashley, has an assignment to find out about "Cars: Then and Now."
She has to answer three questions about cars in her life, and she asked me to answer 
the same questions about cars in my life when I was a child. 

We lived in San Francisco in the 1940s and 1950s. Ashley lives in a city in New Hampshire.
I hope to post Ashley's answers eventually, too.

Five places we regularly drove to when I was a child:

1. The zoo
2. Swimming lessons at Fleischhacker Pool, which was then the largest swimming pool 
in the world. See pix here.
3. The Safeway grocery store, which was around 12 blocks away
4. The Stonestown Mall, which was the first mall we had ever heard of. 
You can see an old postcard picture here.
5. To our rich cousin's place in southern California for summer vacations. (He bought a 
house once owned by The Beach Boys, and we loved taking showers in the Beach Boys' 

Five places I regularly walked to when I was a child: 

1. My school, Francis Scott Key (Annex). Pictures here. It was six blocks away.
2. Golden Gate Park. It was just three blocks away.
3. Playland at the Beach, a creepy/fun place. Pictures here.
4. Ocean Beach, just a block and a half from our house.
5. The movie theater, and the ice skating rink, both just a couple of blocks away.

How my childhood would have been different if there hadn't been any cars:

My childhood wouldn't have been much different. We could walk to lots of stuff nearby; 
or we could take the streetcar, which would take us downtown for shopping, or to Fisherman's 
Wharf to buy fresh crabs. I learned to take the streetcar up to the public library on 19th Ave. 
by myself--a distance of about 30 city blocks. 

The big difference would have been that we wouldn't have had a car to take annual two 
week summer vacations, but then we would have taken the train, instead. In fact, my mom 
took me on the train when I was just three years old, and we traveled from San Francisco 
to Maine. I still have the menus. (You can read about it at A Train Trip With My Mother).

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Kids

With our 30th wedding anniversary coming up later this year, it's fun to take a look at our blended family and think that we have been a part of all of their lives now. Some have been there all of those thirty years, and some came a bit later.
Left to right: Emily, Aimee, Karlie, Isabella, Rocket, Mason, Big Chris, and Little Chris

Ben at White Sands, New Mexico

Dee and her kids

Dee and Melina

Left to right: Ashley, Mike, Rebecca, Caleb, and Joey

Ashley and Rebecca

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Son Grows Up

This is Ben in the 2nd grade. Our local school participated in a district-wide gifted program that was housed in a portable at a school several miles away. The kids got to be with Mr. Dugger in his wonderful Quest classroom once a week. Ben is in the back row on the far right. 

This is a more recent photo of Ben (4th from left) hanging out with friends in New York City, where he has lived since going off to NYU quite a few years ago. He is an accountant by day, and an actor by night. James (far right) was a classmate from 3rd grade on.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Elementary School, San Francisco in the 1950s

I am in the front with the dark plaid dress, white collar, and ringlets
They told us that our teeth should show when we smiled, which accounts for our rather ferocious-looking expressions

After my family moved out West from Maine when I was an infant, I lived in San Francisco until I was 11 years old and about to go into the 6th grade. All of these photos were taken at my two schools in San Francisco's Sunset District, the Francis Scott Key School and its Annex. Information about the Annex can be found on this page under "Other Improvements and Neighborhood Amenities" on the extensive historical site, Western Neighborhoods Project; Preserving the History of San Francisco's West Side.

It was pretty surprising to look up my old school and find that my experience is considered historical! I can gaze at these photos for a very long time, looking at the rooms and the kids, and picking out details. Look at the formality of our school clothes--all the girls are wearing dresses, and everyone's "school shoes" were kept for "good." 

I also like to see that the teachers in Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grades set up hands-on experiences, like the play grocery stores. When you look at the third grade photo, you can see that we have pretty much put all that nonsense behind us in favor of sit-at-the-desk type learning. Nowadays, much of the school day is spent doing hand-on learning at all levels.

However, I really loved the structure and quietness of the structured school room. Those little desks in a straight row, with the books and papers lined up just so were very satisfying to me. When I was older, in 6th grade I believe, I visited the third grade class where my mother taught, using the new methods. I found the noise and apparent chaos quite disconcerting, with children moving all around the room from learning station to learning station.

First grade
I am on the left in the first row with the short kids
That Scottish-looking outfit was designed and sewn by my mother

Second grade
I am in the first row, just above "Scott" on the classroom sign, trying to keep Ronald's boy cooties off me

Third grade
Real structure has set in. I am in the back, in front of the boy (Danny) with the dark vest
I am amazed at how many names I can remember; in fact there are just a few that I can't recall
The short term memory, of course, is pretty far gone, as befits a historical figure

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Train Trip with My Mother

This post first appeared on my other blog, The Zees Go West, in 2009.

I was born in Maine. When I was just three months old, my adventurous parents put my bassinet between them on the front seat of the car and headed west to a promised postwar job in the shipyard at San Francisco. Three and a half years later, in 1948, my mother took me on a train trip back to Maine to visit the relatives. Many years later, when I had a three-year old of my own, I took him on a train trip from Washington state to northern California, a total of 18 hours. We had lots of fun, but I can only admire my own mother's fortitude in taking me on a multi-day train trip across the entire country.

All I can remember about my train trip with my mother was the new brown and pink plaid dress she had sewn for me to wear. It had a little "built-in" pink apron, and my mom and I decided that the apron would be perfect for gathering eggs when we got to Uncle Murray's farm.

Reality was quite different from my imaginings. Yes, I wore that little dress out to the hen house but, as a shy and urban child, I could not make my peace with those fierce hens. I do remember feeling extremely offended when Uncle Murray offered me some fresh milk out in the barn. I agreed that a serving of milk would be a good thing, but was shocked when he delivered it by aiming at me with the cow's teat. It was a little too fresh for my citified taste!
Luckily for me, my mother saved the children's menus from the train trip. A little research on the Internet has helped me to piece together a few facts. Two of my menus are marked with the date and I found the same menus on eBay, so now I know that we traveled part of the way on the Union Pacific Railroad. From what I can tell by looking at old railroad route maps, I am assuming that we went to Omaha, and then to Chicago, and then on to New England.

Here are the breakfast, luncheon, and dinner menus for the well-traveled child in the postwar United States. They are an interesting glimpse into our past.