Thursday, March 27, 2014

mary poppins looks for a nest

Darrel and I have been looking for the Practically Perfect in Every Way House to let the Family Cotton set up housekeeping in Mexico in a style that would shame Mr. Banks. 

That got me to thinking about an email discussion I had with my mother last year.  It all started with my post (false memories) about the first memory I can trust as my own.  I was five.

But there were five years of Stevie-life before that.  Because I cannot count on my memory, I opened the discussion with my mother about what went on during those years.  More particularly, where we lived.

This is what she had to say.  Well, with my inimitable spin.

I have mentioned before that I was born in 1949 in Myrtle Point, Oregon.  But we didn't live there when I first shook hands with a doctor. 

We lived twenty-some miles up the road that followed the curves of the south fork of the Coquille River as it eroded its way through the barrier of the Oregon coast range.  A kind soul would say we were mountain people.  An unkind soul would use a term not so picturesque.

And hill-billy could easily be applied to the town.  After all, the woods were filled with the descendants of Okies and Arkies who made their way west during the Depression.  But my mother's clan made their way through the more genteel streams of Minnesota-through Canada-through Vermont- through Massachusetts.  Yankees through and through.

But my papa was a travelin' man.  Or, at least, we were a traveling family.  He was an independent logger.  "Gyppo" was a label he wore proudly.  As a result, we moved a lot.  From one clear cut to the next.  We were the Joads of old growth harvesting.

So, we were off to the town of my birth in 1951 when I was two.  But you have already heard the tales of how I was a youthful run-away and how the first Jiggs probably saved my life in Myrtle Point.  (dog-gone days)

The next year we were off to the Big City -- Eugene.  I was about to write I have no independent recollection of living there.  But that is not quite true.  I remember the older neighbor boy who played basketball.  And I remember a very nice house with hardwood floors.  At least, that is what I recall.  Had we stayed there, who knows where I would have ended up politically.  Probably as an aging advocate of the SDS.

But that didn't happen.  We headed back to Myrtle Point.  My dad had decided that getting out of the timber industry was the wave of the future.  (In that, he was quite prescient, if a bit premature.)  His escape route?  He opened a tire shop.

The tire shop ended up in a pile of burned rubble after Dad would not sell it to a large oil company.  The conclusion was always left unstated.  But it would make a great script.  Hold it.  That's No Country for Old Men.

So, back to Powers we went after that boy-dream summer at Sitkum I told you about in
false memories.  Powers, where I attended the first, second, and third grades.  And made the type of friends that boys make -- spending days at the mill pond catching frogs for the high school biology teacher or scaling death-defying cliffs.  It was a boy's life.

Those adventures and relationships are some of my strongest memories.  And, even though I spent at most a total of five years in Powers, I still think of it as my home town.  Even as the memories dissolve into nostalgia.

But the Powers idyll did not continue.  In 1958, Dad had had enough of The Woods (as we so Grimm-ly called it), and we moved north to Milwaukie, Oregon.  That would be my home through the rest of grade school, high school, and college -- until I left to join the Air Force in 1971.

And now, I am looking at moving once again.  I have lived in Villa Obregon for five years now.  If the right opportunity shows up, I may once again revive the part of Tom Joad that was in my father -- and be off to where the pickin' is different, if not better.

Oh, yes, the Mary Poppins house.  I do have a conclusion for you that is currently weaving itself into a tale.  And I will share it.


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