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Taming The Monster

Front cover photo: 1972. John, Margaret, Ken, and Susanne playing
fort at Cannon Beach.

Back cover photo: 1995. Joel watching Mom bottle feed a lamb.

Taming The Monster


by
Tony Evers

© Copyright 2017 by Tony Evers Collaborators:


Joyce Ochsner
First Edition: 2017
Jim Evers
Jane Evers
John Evers
Ken Evers
Margaret Evers
Susanne Evers
“I’m an old timer I’m an excellent rhymer
I’ll send you a song of the sights I have seen
‘Tis late in December but well I remember
The springtime of youth when the world was so green”

The Old Timer - From The New Christy Minstrels


Performed by Mom at her 60th birthday celebration

1994. Mom’s 60th Birthday hat.


Table of Contents
Our ‘New’ Home ��������������������������������������������������������������������� 1
Sit On The Floor And Read��������������������������������������������������� 13
The Indian War Dance����������������������������������������������������������� 21
Lost And Found��������������������������������������������������������������������� 27
The Judgement Day���������������������������������������������������������������� 35
Farm Vacation������������������������������������������������������������������������ 47
Good Morning America!������������������������������������������������������� 61
Recitation Of The Rosary������������������������������������������������������� 67
No Pets In The House������������������������������������������������������������ 81
Nickel Allowance������������������������������������������������������������������� 85
Tinsel or Flocked������������������������������������������������������������������� 93
Donuts And Folk Music������������������������������������������������������� 101
Break A Leg������������������������������������������������������������������������� 107
Rancho Craft Acres ������������������������������������������������������������ 117
Fifty Ways To Make Corn Meal������������������������������������������ 127
Castle For Amy�������������������������������������������������������������������� 141
Wedding Planner Extraordinaire������������������������������������������ 157
Taming The Monster������������������������������������������������������������ 163
Our ‘New’ Home
It wasn’t long after settling into our ‘new’ home in Roy, in 1962, that
Mom bought a bunch of 1” x 2”’s, a can of green paint, some hardware,
a saw, and a weird contraption that she called a mitre box. She started
measuring windows, cutting the boards at angles, crimping together
the frames, then painting. After the insect screen was stapled onto the
construction, they were installed on each of the double hung windows.
While some of us didn’t understand the need for all of that work, it
sure came in handy later on warm nights when we were able to have
fresh breezes and not be pestered by mosquitos. And then we came
to ‘appreciate’ on berry picking mornings, that Mom would enter our
sleeping quarters at quarter-till-early, open the windows while sing-
ing “Good Morning”, letting in cool fresh breezes, and didn’t have to
worry about cleaning fly-specks off the bedroom moldings or the later
sparkling white painted ceilings.

We had previously been living in a rental place in Shedd, a good-sized


house with a wraparound porch, perfect for skating ( Jim remembers

1967. Mom in front of the Roy house.


that he and Tony climbed out an upstairs window to go skating on the out; it would certainly have put her remarkable house cleaning skills
roof of the porch as well), a barn with a hay loft for rain-time activities, to the test.
a large fruit orchard to the side, and a huge garden plot dividing the
house from the main road. The one similarity between that place and It was October of that first year that our house – and the family - with-
Roy was that they both had a train track close by that would vibrate stood a first big test: The Columbus Day Storm. Mom was down at
the house at least once a day. But it was the abundant garden and the school having teacher conferences (probably about Tony and Jim)
orchard harvest that year that led Mom to set an all-time canning re- and Joyce, age 8, was babysitting and in charge of 5 kids, (surely illegal
cord, putting up more than a thousand jars. Seriously, where does one now, but...that was back then) when the wind starting howling. The
even buy a thousand Ball Mason jars? Thanks to all that effort, during white metal “hat box” which held mostly gloves that was on the porch
a tough year while Dad was in between jobs, the family kept in food. was carried off by the wind and stuff started blowing across the yard.
A few of the kids ran out to try to catch them and struggled to walk at
The Roy house was “fun” because it was ours, but it was definitely in all, let alone upright. Joyce recalls, “I have never forgotten that feeling
need of TLC. It was drafty, the downstairs oil burning stove couldn’t of being unable to navigate upright.”
keep the upstairs warm during the winter, and blackberry and other
vines that had made their way up to the second story through the hol-
low space between wall studs, protruded into the bedrooms through
the cardboard wall panels. Mom put on a carpenters belt and started “In the safety of our house, we
attacking one room at a time as the family budget allowed. With
plenty of young and eager helpers, she tore off the original cardboard,
played games, slept in a pile, and
pulled out the vines and weeds, installed a vapor barrier, then insu- Mom helped to make those days a
lated from floor to ceiling. Afterwards came the more challenging
part when she hoisted 4’ x 8’ sheet rock up to the ceiling, during which blast.”
she directed the kids to slide provisional supports in place as she nailed
the panels into place. After that she taped and applied mud to the
joints and nails, then sanded. Door and window moldings were mitre Joyce got everyone back into the house when she saw a piece of alu-
cut and installed, then the trim and the walls were painted. Voila! We minum corrugated siding from the feed mill at the bottom of the lane
had new bedrooms. And they were a lot cozier in the winter given the coming straight toward the house. She had been well trained on what
insulation. to do in case of a house fire, but never on how to deal with a 100 mile
per hour storm. What she didn’t know at the time was, not to have
Initially there was one bedroom on each side of the upstairs, one for everyone’s faces pressed against the window pane, watching the crazi-
girls; the other for boys. Sorry Joyce, there wasn’t a private bedroom ness. It would have been better during the storm to have everyone
for her like in the Shedd house; she’d have to wait a few years for Mom away from the window, but with the kids being so anxious for Mom
to open the slanted attic roof that gave Joyce her own room while also to get home, it would have been hard to peel them away from that
providing some needed space for closets in the other two bedrooms. perch. Minutes seemed like an eternity. Once Mom arrived though,
And sorry boys, there wasn’t an upstairs stairway that dead ended like she jumped into high gear, settled down a lot of rattled children and
in the Shedd house that you frequently pee’d down in the evening. We created a 5 day party to remember, with sleeping bags across the front
wonder if poor Mom scoured that part of the house when we moved room floor, candles and flashlights to tell stories by. We probably ate

2 Taming The Monster Our ‘New’ Home 3


food warmed on the oil stove, mostly soups and oatmeal and such that rendition of power saw) multiple times. It was a while before we could
can be cooked on a non-cooking surface. go back to school, because the storm took off part of the roof and the
classrooms were inundated with water, and when we did, some of the
Tony recalls he and Jim riding bike home from school that day. The classes were held in the small gym until the roof could be restored.
winds had already started to pick up so the nuns let school out ear-
lier than usual The boys were following their neighbor, Dale Moore, After the lull of the storm and things became more normal again,
choir director Irene’s son, who was also on a bike. He was older, had a Mom returned to remodeling activities and hired a building contractor
tendency to be a bully, so they kept their distance and tried to ignore to jack up the house, which was on rotting wooden blocks, and then
him. But this time was different. Dale was making the descent on mason in a cinder block foundation. Although the project put the
the sidewalk that paralleled the rectory next to the church and sharply house a bit higher above ground, there still wasn’t crawl space room
turned left – close to where the statue of Mary was in the upright under it, and the folks had interest in upgrading some wiring and insu-
bathtub shrine in the priest’s lawn. He turned left to ride the short lating the bottom side. The kids were ‘hyped up’ about the possibility
section of sidewalk that exited onto the road. Just as the sidewalk of building a basement with a swimming pool, so with small trowels
crossed the ditch, there was a bit of a hump, and when you lurched and beach buckets in tow, took off like a party of worker ants digging
your bike just right, you were able to go airborne for a teeny bit. That their way under the house. It started with a lot of gusto and trails
is what Dale did there. He turned to the boys and said, “Hey guys, were carved out all around the perimeter, and a network of connecting
look at me.” Just then he really went airborne. Jim and Tony turned paths through the center, with lots and lots of small pails of dirt hauled
white as a sheet. Dale stayed airborne on his bike almost until he got out. Jim said that the kids made enough progress with the pails that
to Grandma Meeuwsen’s house on the corner. It was like a scene from he started using a Red Flyer wagon to haul larger quantities of soil
The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy was riding her bike in the hurricane. out. After a while the ‘worker ants’ petered out on the swimming pool
concept, but not before sacking enough dirt that the adults could belly
In the safety of our house, we played games, slept in a pile (our living transit and access most points under the house.
room was not very big), and Mom helped to make those days a blast.
We suppose that this was what all that camping had prepared us for
so well. Dad could not come home the first night because there were
so many trees across the road. We think he made it the second night, “We loved that Mom liked to paint
although he left pretty quickly after that because they got a generator
and he was taking it from Johnny Herinckx where he was working,
because it brought color into our
to Ever May Farms, and maybe a couple of other places, trying to get lives giving reflections off of her al-
cows milked without electricity. We were lucky, electricity and phones
were down for us for only 5 days – other places in the state had two ways sparkling white painted ceil-
week outages. The storm was classified as comparable to a category 3
hurricane, the likes of which the West Coast has never seen, before or
ings.”
since.

Our house was not too damaged, but the neighbor’s oak tree fell on On the Roy house remodeling, eventually Mom attacked the down-
the front of their house, so they had to take out the “sour paw” ( John’s stairs, tearing down to the bare studs, applying vapor barrier and in-

4 Taming The Monster Our ‘New’ Home 5


sulation. Dad did a lot of re-wiring so we could eliminate the use of and matching bedspreads. And on the other side of the hall, Mom
extension cords and multi-plug adaptors, and Mom had her friend, Joe gave the girls room a soft yellow tone and installed latest technology
Van Dyke, come over and solve some of the more tricky wiring tasks, peel and stick white with grey fleck linoleum squares.
such as 3-way light switches. Joe, a home builder and master carpen-
ter, also engineered a removable platform at the top of the stairs that Downstairs, the kitchen got a facelift when Mom and Tony sanded
extended the upstairs hallway, giving the kids more play area, making and scraped all the cabinets doors and drawers and painted, changing
it safe with a railing, but removable, so mattresses and large furniture them from apricot to blue. Uncle Fred, the cabinet maker, was enlisted
pieces could be taken up or downstairs. The ceiling and walls were dry to install the new wrought iron handles, pulls, and hinges, and made it
walled and painted. Mom attempted new techniques to add texture look so easy putting all the screws in with his variable speed electrical
to the ceilings so each room was a variation. That was the era of ‘pop- gadget after Mom spent a day or so taking out all the originals with a
corn ceilings’, so she tried to modernize the coverings without renting slotted manual screwdriver. After all those years in the house we actu-
the popcorn equipment. It turned out to be a good thing she did it ally never changed the original kitchen countertop, which was a dark
her way, because now, people are paying through the nose to have the reddish with black swirl, Marmoleum type surface. It was not very
popcorn texture removed because it contains asbestos. attractive but quite functional. There wasn’t much countertop area in
the kitchen, so it was incredible how well it held up given all of the
While we weren’t burdened having that asbestos in the ceiling, we did activities that were continuously taking place on it.
have our share of another chemical. Mom was a master at painting
moldings and the wood trim between window pains, and she always It could be said that the kitchen countertop’s successful life was attrib-
made it look so easy. She also always kept her own private brushes uted to the pull-out extra wide cutting board that was to the left of the
painstakingly cleaned after each use that the kids were not allowed to sink. It was well ingrained in all of us by Mom to use the board, not
touch. And one might add that she also knew how to clean and get the countertop, when cutting anything. The pull-out also served as an
more uses out of a disposable paint roller than anyone. So when the anchor point for the hand-crank grinder, a spin around apple peeler
government started announcing a ban on lead based enamel paints, (that we tried a few times but Mom could peel by hand faster with less
Mom tried the substitute latex, but didn’t like the way it laid down, waste), a punching board for kneading bread, and of course, for rolling
nor that it wasn’t scrubbable. So when the lead ban was finally imple- out all of Mom’s fantastically delicious home-made pies.
mented, she went to the local paint store and bought up all their re-
maining inventory. The kitchen to the living room had a continuous linoleum flooring
that had a red background with a sort of grey oak leaf pattern. Howev-
We loved that Mom liked to paint because it brought color into our er in the living room most of the flooring was covered with Grandma
lives giving reflections off of her always sparkling white painted ceil- Miller’s Oriental carpet. Her lovely lush red original West Linn house
ings. Joyce’s new private quarters were finished with intense orange living room rug was adored by all and served as the centerpiece for
that rocked against the fresh white trim around the doors and the family activity for nearly two decades. Unfortunately with all the use
dormer window. Then, when Jane took the room over, she had Mom of such a large active family, the high traffic areas were reduced to the
repaint the walls with a bright light green and Tony and Jane finished woven jute background, and sadly it came time for new flooring.
decorating by installing a wall to wall hand-me-down deep green Ber-
ber carpet. The boys’ room was updated with ‘70’s spicy pumpkin or- Vince Reichow, youngest son of Mom’s friend Elizabeth, told Tony at
ange walls with JC Penney designer ‘not-so-avocadoish’ green curtains the paint store where he worked, that they were upgrading the carpet

6 Taming The Monster Our ‘New’ Home 7


and would sell the existing one, which had lots more years of use, at a didn’t say anything, just exited the bathroom and went out to play.
great discount. He didn’t mention that the carpet they were replacing
was slightly out of style. Tony thought it would look a lot better and With a subsequent flush, the toilet backed up and soon enough, a
be warmer than the existing linoleum covering, so convinced Mom to queue began to accumulate to use the dysfunctional john. Dad wasn’t
get the pre-owned flooring. In a few days a crew arrived with rolls of at home at the time, so Mom called Uncle Alvin to solve the problem.
foam padding and the carpet and began transforming the downstairs. A plumber’s snake couldn’t unplug it, so he crawled under the house in
In the end we had a totally different look throughtout the lower level: the dark and dismantled the pipe connecting the toilet. Soon enough,
pre-owned green shag carpet. “Saint Alvin” appeared back in the house covered with effluent with a
heavy cloth diaper in one hand and cigarette in the other. He handed
The Roy place was always a one bathroom house (well maybe one and the soiled garment to Mom and told her she would probably want to
a half in that some of the boys pee’d outside their bedroom window, launder and reuse that one (it was a good heavy thick diaper of course
but it wasn’t really noticeable because Mom (in her wisdom?) painted which Mom had sewn as part of the stack she made for each of the
the shutters yellow. Initially it just had a claw footed bathtub. Given kids). He added, “And by the way, the toilet’s working now.”
the tiny capacity of the water heater, bath water was drawn for two
shifts, one for the boys, and another filling for the girls. Back then, Sometime after that, Mom transformed the bathroom into an effi-
it paid to be early and first in when it came to taking baths! In time, ciency unit, working with Uncle Fred to build cabinets to maximize
the claw bathtub was taken out and became part of the landscape as the limited space to accommodate storage for the ten inhabitants
a fish pond, (which was unique for Roy because most people used the of the household. After agreeing on the cabinet design, Mom tele-
antique tub for a lawn shrine) and a fiberglass bathtub shower combi- phoned Uncle Fred and said she forgot one thing, “no kisses, please”.
nation put in its place. Fred agreed and proceeded with the cabinet project. ‘Kisses’ are how
Mom referred to the little football shaped patches one sees on ply-
wood which are difficult to hide with paint. The bathroom walls were
papered with a pink and red tear drop pattern and the cabinets, trim
After agreeing on the cabinet de- and ceiling, painted in white enamel.
sign, Mom telephoned Uncle Fred Gradually the house improved in comfort and value, but most of those
and said she forgot one thing, “no improvements were not evident from the street. However the new
foundation straightened up the house giving it a noticeable change
kisses, please”. in the straightness of the roof line and later the faux window shutters
that Mom always dreamed of having, like her Mom’s house, called at-
tention to some improvements taking place. That apparently alerted
We all somehow managed and cooperated to survive with just one toi- the Washington County Tax Assessor and periodically he’d make an
let in the house with ten inhabitants. However there was one incident unannounced visit with the aim of upgrading the tax rolls. Mom came
on the eve of Thanksgiving that caused some stress. Tony had been to recognize the County car and the gentleman, and swiftly tossed off
rinsing out a really poopy diaper in the toilet, something we had to do her carpenter’s belt and work dungarees, threw on a smock and some
before putting it into the laundry hamper, and the diaper ‘slipped’ from slippers to meet him at the front door as a ‘damsel in distress’, advising
his hand as he was flushing. He didn’t think anyone would notice and that she couldn’t possibly let him come in to the house because it was

8 Taming The Monster Our ‘New’ Home 9


just ‘little ‘ol me and my kids’ and he really should return when her
husband was home.

10 Taming The Monster Our ‘New’ Home 11

1972. Mom’s Hippity Hop Christmas.


Sit On The Floor
And Read
As the kids arrived home from school, they knew to check the refrig-
erator for the nightly list of assigned house tasks. They could range
from sorting, washing, drying, folding or ironing clothing, cooking,
washing or drying dishes, weeding, spreading bark chips, cleaning calf
pens, or a task of the day. There was no television to be watched, so the
evening was consumed with activity. Once the chores were accom-
plished, school homework was a priority, followed by book reading.
Mom was always an early morning person, and a very active person
from the start of every morning, but this also meant that at some point
she would burn out at the end of the day. When we were young this
meant going to bed early, because if Mom was tired, certainly all of us
were tired as well. So that meant making sure homework was done
before the call for lights out.

12 Taming The Monster Sit On The Floor And Read 13

1970. Joyce and Susanne with Mom.


There actually was a black and white television in the house, but Mom week, waiting patiently while Mom stopped to correct whoever was
kept it in the closet and would roll it out sometimes during the day playing piano when they got the note wrong or to try it again while
to watch continuing education classes. Tony remembers when he was counting out the rhythm. In high school, amazingly, Mom got out the
sick and stayed home from school, having to sit perfectly still while vintage Royal typewriter and helped bang out any number of Joyce’s
she watched a half hour long lecture on the television. He thought the compositions. Joyce said, “She typed way faster than I ever did and I
television was so boring. It wasn’t until a few years later when he was think she felt badly that we didn’t have a better typewriter, regardless,
visiting at the neighboring Vandecoevering house and everyone was it sure helped me get through school. She probably should have got-
seated in the living room watching “The Wizard of Oz”. He was mes- ten the real credit for those A’s. Poems back then, however, were not
merized by the box and returned home to tell Mom that the family Mom’s forte, and they were not mine either. I recall my first real poetry
should get one of those like the neighbors have. Dad piped up that we assignment while in the 3rd grade. The teacher talked it up as a big
had one, it was just that Mom only allowed it to be used for watching deal and I was freaking out that I couldn’t come up with a poem. Mom
college courses. (Mom actually did plug the television in alongside the finally wrote the poem for me in exchange for my cooking dinner or
piano when President Kennedy was shot. The Catholic grade school something. I still have the paper somewhere. I think...at any rate, I
heard the news in the morning, then herded everyone into the church used to! Seriously, the poem I submitted was: Roses are red, violets are
to pray for him. Later, school was let out early and we went home pink, do the dishes in the sink!”
and sat nearly transfixed in front of the television for days through his
funeral ceremonies.) Tony recalls Mom and Joyce giggling away downstairs late in the eve-
ning, and he walked halfway down the stairs to see what was going
Mike Ochsner recalls his first visit to the Evers’ family home when he on. He saw Mom at the typewriter and Joyce beside her reading aloud
came down from Seattle University with Joyce. After Joyce gave him from a hand written report. She would read a bit, then they both
a house tour he remembers pausing in front of the refrigerator, where would start cackling at grammatical errors or the content of the com-
he pointed out to her that Mom’s job list posted there included tasks position. It turned out that Mom agreed to type one of Jim’s term
for Mike to do as well! This introduction to the family culture was a papers and enlisted Joyce’s help to spruce it up. It seemed it needed
bit of a shock, but it wasn’t a problem for him as he too was from a big some work. Tony snuck back upstairs to bed and decided from that
family and always happy to pitch in. instance, at the first opportunity he would take a typing class and be-
come proficient enough so that they wouldn’t be able to laugh at his
John reminds of how Mom was able to rally whatever troops at her reports. Apparently it was his teachers who got to laugh instead. No-
disposal to get stuff done. Particularly when it came to food process- tably, he also bought himself an electric typewriter, a then state of the
ing and preservation, she’d get the kids lined up in a production line, art IBM Selectric, which he paid for by typing classmate’s reports and
snipping beans, pitting cherries, or peeling apples for canning. His term papers. Incidentally, he ended up selling that to Mom when he
friend, Brian Peters, has reminded him many times of when he went got his first computer, and she still uses it today.
over to play one day and Mom roped him into working in a smelt gut-
ting job for hours. Mom encouraged and incentivized book reading. Throughout our
childhood she established a bedtime book hour where we all gathered
Speaking of helping with the chores, Joyce remembers having her in the living room quietly as she read a chapter of a selected book to us.
school spelling book propped up against the back of the sink, Mom The Von Trapp Family Biography was a favorite and we wondered with
doing the dishes and Joyce dried while reviewing the words of the all of the music lessons and family theatrical programs if we might be

14 Taming The Monster Sit On The Floor And Read 15


heading over to the Alps to do an audition. John remembers Mom was a bit of a hodge-podge. If only the other authors had followed Dr.
loving to read and trying to instill the love of books in her kids. In Seuss’ example and made all the books the same size.
particular he recalls hearing her read Bambi to them in the evening.
John said, “I don’t know about the older kids, but she paid Ken and I Margaret recalls while in the 3rd grade her teacher Sister Barbara
to read books.” John said that Mom never specifically told them that Hertel started reading them A Wrinkle In Time. She asked Mom if she
they couldn’t re-read the same book, so they re-read a favorite, How Joe could bring her hard bound copy to read along in class and Mom, of
The Bear and Sam the Mouse Got Together over and over. He said maybe course, said no. Margaret said, “So I snuck it into school and proudly
they weren’t paying that much attention to what they were reading, read along with Sister Barbara every day until the book was finished.”
but in any event; the story always ended the same way, with ice cream But then Margaret explained that she wasn’t sure how to return it to
at three o’clock. And given that in the early days we rarely had ice home so left it in the bottom of her desk until the end of the school
cream in the freezer, John probably headed to the fruit cellar, grabbed year. With school being let out, she had no choice but to bring it
a quart of peaches and gulped it down in one breath. John had a boost back home, so she manned up and headed home with it. However,
in learning to read when he started the first grade. He thought his along the way, right before the Roy store, there was that nice culvert
teacher, Sister Flora Marie’s name was ‘Sit On The Floor and Read’, so that somehow convinced her to toss the book into the ditch, and save
he did just that, and spent lots of hours reading that way. herself from certain wooden spoon activities. Margaret said, “All was
well until a couple of days later as I was walking home from church,
I noticed that someone had nicely plucked the book from the ditch
and set it up on the culvert to dry out in the sun. I quickly kicked it
Joyce remembers Mom limiting us back into the grass and ran home terrified that Mom might have seen
to 10 library books apiece, some- it on her regular walks to church. I snuck back down the next day,
only to have it re-appear. I am not sure how that culvert continually
how managing to keep track of all regurgitated the book, but someone eventually took pity on me and it
stopped haunting me. Well, that is not exactly true, I still feel haunted
those books. every time I think about the serious disregard I had for one of Mom’s
beloved books.” (Margaret was fortunate that Mom didn’t yet have
her book collection catalogued.)
Mom had an envious collection of books, amassing two large book
shelves, taking up a whole wall in the living room. The lower shelf Mom also took us to local libraries to keep us well stocked with a good
consisted of an updated World Encyclopedia collection which gave us variety of books to read, and in this process absolutely turning all of us
school kids an edge in doing reports on whatever subject. Initially into readers. Joyce remembers Mom limiting us to 10 books apiece,
Mom’s home library was larger than what was at St. Francis Elemen- somehow managing to keep track of all those books. Joyce said, “Se-
tary School. Most of us caught on early how to rewrite what we read riously, how did she manage, I lost a few when I had only two kids.”
so as not to plagiarize. (Later the school annexed a library, so poor Joyce continued, “I have often over the years considered how Mom,
Susanne never got the advantage of her older siblings.) At that time, and yes I do attribute it to Mom, raised a bunch of hooligans both
all Mom required of us was to put the books back in the original order rural and poor to be highly educated and to value learning as much
on the shelves. For the Encyclopedias, Year Books, and Zane Grey as we did, certainly statistics were very much against that happening.”
books, it was pretty straight forward, but the children’s book section Joyce continued, “In fact I wrote a few essays regarding that in sociol-

16 Taming The Monster Sit On The Floor And Read 17


ogy classes which also garnered me A’s, although by then Mom wasn’t
doing the typing. I really think that the key to this was her passion to
introduce us to the world beyond our front door through books along
with her practical ability to assist with homework and value educa-
tional success.”

Jim recalls that once the kids read all they had at the Cornelius li-
brary, she moved on to the Forest Grove, then the Hillsboro com-
munity libraries. Jim said, “The Forest Grove library was right next
to the creamery where Mom would drop off the cream after she ran
it through the separator.” He said, “My FFA ledger showed a decent
income from the sale of the cream, but I don’t ever remember receiv-
ing any proceed from it.” But then he added, “Come to think of it, I
don’t remember ever paying for any of the grain or hay that my cows
ate either.”

Later on, supposedly on a rainy day weekend, Mom catalogued her


whole book library according to the ‘Evers-Decimal-System’ and in-
serted library check-out cards in each. She was always generous in
lending out her library books, but expected people to be reasonably
on-time in returning the ones she had lent. She was known to have
sent out follow-up reminders when the book was past due. We haven’t
heard if anyone was fined over-due charges.

Tony said the only other person he knew with such a well-organized
library was Mom’s Aunt Lilly Grossenbacher Shaw. It was in the back
room of her house, and after stepping by Uncle Harry who was sur-
rounded by bottles of miracle elixirs and constantly patting himself
down with something, you came to dark oak bookshelves, some with
lawyer style lift-up glass door panels, all filled with edition bound
books. And in one corner of a bookshelf was her vintage stereoscope
that you would insert one of the assorted picture cards and view a
multi-dimension slide show. As far as her book collection, we don’t
know if she lent any of them out, and whether she sent late notices to
delinquent readers. Joyce added, “I recall Aunt Lilly being very pleased
with us for examining and spending time with her books. I can almost
hear her chuckle of delight!”

18 Taming The Monster Sit On The Floor And Read 19

1972. Aunt Lilly with Mom in Switzerland.


The Indian
War Dance
When we first moved into the Roy house, Mom set up a coin jar that
was for saving up to buy a piano. Tony admits that he was never wise
enough to toss a coin into that jar, instead foolishly popping coins in
the car cigarette lighter or he and Jim placing them on the train tracks
to see what they would look like flattened out. Mom told them that
they shouldn’t mess around the tracks. One time shortly after they
put a coin on there and built up both sides of the rail with rocks to be
sure the swoosh of the train didn’t knock it off before flattening, there
was a derailment in the vicinity in front of the feed store! They never
found the coin, but the dozen or so inspectors roaming around the
area combing through the wreckage for more than a week certainly
deterred them from placing additional coins on the tracks. Tony la-
ments not having some foresight wasting his coins on the track, real-
izing that tossing a coin or two in the piano jar would have had good

20 Taming The Monster The Indian War Dance 21

1971. Mom playing piano at Peggy’s farewell party.


payback, meaning years of getting out of doing evening house chores, at the transition, as they started to tire of her mastered rendition of
‘slaving away’ practicing the piano. Oh how foolish he was for not “The Spinning Song” which was toward the end of the Michael Aaron
investing earlier. Grade 3 Music Instruction.

Sometime after we got Grandma Evers’ piano, Mom began giving the Jim spun his wheels on about page 41 of Michael Aaron’s Grade 1, play-
older kids piano lessons. A practice schedule was posted on the refrig- ing “The Indian War Dance”. The piece had an underlying deep base
erator and everyone took their turn on a daily basis running through rhythm with some treble calls that he practiced repetitiously for six
their weekly lessons. Mom had a stylish classic metronome sitting on months or more, consuming his total minutes of daily practice time.
the piano, but it was rarely used during practice. Usually she kept us on With a good heart, Mom exempted Jim from completing the three
time with a wooden spoon. lesson volumes and permitted him to learn drums instead. However
he dreamt of learning on a whole drum set, Mom spared the family the
After moving into the EverMay Farm house in Verboort, Mom re- clamor, and bought just the snare. But as it turned out, the joke was
ceived Grandma Miller’s piano. The instrument came loaded with on all of us who were relieved at the reprieve from the monotonous
memories and when Mom sat down and played Gospel hymns on it, war dance. Just after Mom, who was a percussionist in the West Linn
it really came to life. The instrument was made of richer, more ornate High School band, gave Jim an introduction on the snare drum and
wood than our current piano so it was the revered furniture piece in how to properly hold the sticks, he adapted his beloved piece to the
the house. The kids all thought it looked great, but Mom thought new instrument.
the finish had been neglected while in Grandpa Miller’s hands, so she
cooked a concoction she got from the Extension Service which in-
cluded turpentine and linseed oil to apply by elbow grease over the
piano’s fine wood. The kids gathered around to watch the transforma- “Didn’t you know that EVERYBODY
tion of our ‘new’ piano as Mom started to work her magic. Someone
mentioned that the mixture smelled strange, like something burning,
knows the John Philip Sousa, “Stars
but Mom proceeded with the restoration. Then smoke filled the room and Stripes Forever” march?”
and we knew something was wrong. The concoction that was being
warmed on the kitchen stove had caught fire and flames were shooting
to the ceiling. Fortunately in a sausage making house there were al-
ways large containers of salt, so that was doused on the fire, and it was Tony continued past Michael Aaron Grade 3, and suggested to Mom
extinguished before more extensive damage could occur. The damage that he was interested in continuing with the piano; however it was
was confined to the overhead fan which was reimbursed by insurance disconcerting to him that when the rest of his classmates would dis-
(so when we moved out of the Verboort house back to Roy we took play their talents during ‘show and tell’, he didn’t have anything to do
that fan and installed it there.) because there was no piano in the classroom. So Mom dusted off her
accordion and started giving him lessons on that. Then when he had
Mom started everyone on the Michael Aaron series piano books, and mastered it sufficiently to play a medley of songs, he lugged the 50
once we passed the third volume, we got the chance to learn another pound box to school and beamingly performed for his class, starting
instrument of our choice. Joyce, the oldest, was the first to cross the with something like, “Beer Barrel Polka”. He was laughed out of the
line, and she chose to take up the cello. The rest of the kids were elated classroom for playing a box they said belonged in a museum, so he
lugged it back home and convinced Mom to teach him some other

22 Taming The Monster The Indian War Dance 23


instrument. Aunt Peggy donated her coronet, so he started lessons
on that. Aunt Jean handed down her clarinet to Jane; and John and
Kenny respectively started on trombone and french horn. Margaret
bypassed the initial piano lessons starting with a Suzuki violin course,
then Susanne returned to the traditional Michael Aaron piano course.
Somewhere in between, Mom taught the younger kids to play the re-
corder as well.

Mom encouraged our participation in recitals and would insist that


we memorize the pieces for the event. Later when Mom returned to
take piano lessons from a Mrs. Dunlap, she also participated in recit-
als. Tony recalls preparing for a recital where Mom reminded him for
weeks to memorize the composition. He had the first and last lines
down really well but was pretty weak on the middle part. Who pays
attention to the middle of the song anyway? At the recital, Tony’s good
friend John Vandecoevering was on the program before him, and every
time he made a small mistake, he’d do an exaggerated wince and every-
body could tell that he had blundered. Mom, who was sitting next to
Tony, turned to him and whispered, “Don’t do like your friend John, if
you make a mistake just continue like nothing happened.”

Then it came Tony’s turn to play his piece. He started with the dra-
matic introduction and took full control of the piece. But once he got
to the middle part, he couldn’t remember the notes, so just continued
making up something to fill in time until he’d return to the ending part
that was instilled in his memory. Tony was satisfied that he didn’t even
wince when he forgot the piece, just kept playing, and was sure that
Mom would be proud. Tony didn’t think that anyone in the audience
would notice, given that he thought he was playing an obscure march.
Mom was very embarrassed that he butchered the work, “Didn’t you
know that EVERYBODY knows the John Philip Sousa, “Stars and
Stripes Forever” march?”

24 Taming The Monster The Indian War Dance 25

1980. Mom at Dunlap’s piano recital.


Lost And Found
Mom was always the first to volunteer when one of the kid’s classes
would go on a field trip. When she showed up with our family car that
was 20 years older than the rest of the parent’s cars, the nuns would
think, maybe next time they shouldn’t announce to the whole class that
they needed volunteer drivers. However the classmates didn’t hesitate
to load up in the old black Plymouth and sometimes it would end up
jamb full, the teachers would need to pull kids out and divide them
among the other cars. The sister would tell Mom that she should stay
in the middle of the pack in case anything went wrong with the car
while on the trip, but Mom liked to use the accelerator and snorted out
in front leading the rest. Once when the classmates prevailed, Mom
stopped to buy ice cream for all (10 cents a cone), making us arrive
much later than the rest to the great consternation of the sisters. They
were thinking they needed to call the police for assistance; fortunately
we arrived just in time before the waiting parents panicked!

Mom was a safe (but fast) driver and was concerned about the safety

26 Taming The Monster Lost And Found 27

2014. Mom with siblings.


of the kids. This was before seat belts and child locks, so Mom took and the last calf pen where the larger bull calves and heifers were, his
the inside back seat door locks off so no one would accidentally open laboratory. He tied and twisted and braided, making his own ropes.
the door while the car was in motion. One late afternoon, Mom took There was a particular bull in that pen that he mastered. John had
John and Tony along when she went to Grandma Evers’ house in Ver- named him, but we don’t remember what he called him. He had them
boort. John and Tony were in the backseat playing a game, without all named. Mom wondered for a while if she might lose John to the
using their hands to support them, trying to stand up in the car press- rodeo.
ing their heads against the roof as Mom veered around the corners
on Evers road on the way to EverMay Farms. On one of the cor-
ners, John lost balance and fell onto Tony who fell up against the door
causing it to fly open. They both went tumbling out of the car and “Most of the kids called it ‘chicken
onto the graveled road. According to John, he landed on top of Tony’s
head which softened his landing. John said he was thankful his older
poop’, but Ken would have the most
brother was next to the door that time, but (as he has learned sorting reason to: That was a bad burn!”
through decades of insurance claims) that doors weren’t supposed to
just open by themselves.

As the boys picked themselves up from the road and brushed the One late August when Mom and Dad took us to the Oregon State
gravel off, they gave each other a startled look, not yet sure what had Fair, she reminded us as we got out of the car of our ‘normal pairing’,
happened, it all went so fast and they were disoriented. At the other the responsibility that each of the older kids had for their assigned
end of Evers road, Mom had just arrived at Grandma’s house, parked younger sibling. That was before Susanne was born, so John was in
the car and got out to open the back seat door to let her two sons the middle, responsible for just himself. The family spent an enjoy-
out. To her surprise, they weren’t in the car. So she got back in and able day at the fair generally viewing 4-H, open-class, and commercial
drove back to Evers road to look for them. By now it was dark out- exhibits, given their weekly allowance didn’t afford much more than
side and John and Tony noticed some headlights coming toward them. cotton candy or an ice cone (although Jim and Tony later boasted of
They thought it was a stranger and didn’t want to get ran over so they all the carnival rides they had taken after fishing coins out of landscape
jumped and hid in the ditch until the car passed. Mom circled around fountains). At the end of the day, the kids showed up at the designated
a few times and they hid again in the ditch, not knowing it was her car. spot, a very crowded post that evening, and had their charges in-hand,
At some point either she spotted them or they recognized the car and so the family proceeded to the parking lot and left the fairgrounds. A
they were reunited. Mom drove them back to Grandma’s house who ways out of Salem, Mom turned around and asked, “Where’s John?”
gave them both a treat. John headed out to the barn and Tony stayed We did a count off and, sure enough, John was absent. So we made a
in the house where they doctored him up, pulling some of the gravel u-turn and the folks nervously drove back to the fair.
out of his skin and painted his scratches up with iodine tincture.
Back at the State Fair, we were all assigned to check out certain ar-
John loved being in the barn: He particularly enjoyed roping and rid- eas, then return to the designated spot (most likely the dairy barn),
ing calves. But as he got better with roping, he found that the simple but everyone turned up empty handed. Mom checked with Lost and
baling twine just wasn’t robust enough. So the end of the cow feeder Found but no person of John’s description had been reported. About
where there was a mountain of baling twine became his workshop, then, the rodeo had ended, and John was eventually spotted leaving
the arena strutting behind Al Lindow, a Holstein breeder, who Dad

28 Taming The Monster Lost And Found 29


and Grandpa Bert competed showing cows with at County and State And I only lost one front tooth in that gig”. And John added, “It was
Fair for many years (It was Al Lindow and his wife Henk who initially a couple months later that Ken nailed me with the ‘dirt clod’ aka rock,
introduced Mom and Dad at the fair). Al Lindow had a season rodeo and knocked out the other one so I had a matching pair. I have long
pass, so apparently John tagged behind him when he passed through suspected a family conspiracy to knock those beaver teeth down to
the ticket booth, and got to enjoy the whole show sitting next to Mr. size. I should’ve had CSI inspect that braided rope to see if it had been
Lindow in his premier box seat. cut.” Jane remembers once hitting her bum pretty hard in a fall from
one of John’s swings and having to warm it up every day by cozying
Years earlier, when Dad was exhibiting cows at various fairs for Grand- up to the oil stove. Maybe that is why she always orders bum warmers
pa Bert, Mom would bring us kids along and would pin tags to the for her cars.
back of our shirts that read, “If Lost – Return Me To The Dairy Barn”.
We came to know the fairgrounds like the back of our hands. Howev- We were fortunate that Mom let us be kids and we got to take some
er Jim said that one time Tony did get lost at the Multnomah County small risks in our outdoor play like tree climbing, horseplay on the
Fair, and a security official gave him an ice cream cone. Jim said he roof, and other things, just like she said she did when she was growing
wanted one too, so tried and tried to get lost after that, but apparently up. None of us ended up with broken bones which was a good thing
wasn’t able to look forlorn enough to warrant an “I am lost” treat. not to have medical bills, but also meant we missed out on taking our
time as being very popular in school having kids line up to sign the
Anyway, back to John: after moving from the farm, he no longer had cast. There were a few hospital visits though. Jane was the first in the
lots of calves to lasso and play rodeo with, but did maintain his passion family to get to stay overnight when she was 2 or 3 years old and had
for making ropes from bailing twine. One of his big projects was mak- a bout with pneumonia. She actually stayed over a couple of nights
ing a swing to hang from the large maple tree at the upper edge of the and when we got to visit, we were jealous because she was eating a
property. For that he braided together strands to achieve about a 3/4” popsicle – something we wouldn’t get until we started picking straw-
diameter, then he took three of those and further braided to make a berries – and also had a cool name bracelet. John also came down with
nice thick one to use for the swing. At first he tied a large knot at the mild pneumonia at the time while he was an infant, but did not stay
end for a seat while swinging, but then with increasing interest from overnight at the hospital.
his siblings to use it, he added a second rope with a sizeable swing seat
between the two ropes that could accommodate three people at once. Ken had a run in with a coffee table in Verboort and knocked out his
front teeth. Mom wasn’t deathly concerned once the pain subsided
His ‘deluxe’ ride was when he’d wind the rope around as tight as he given that they were baby teeth until she realized how many more
could get it, have everyone climb on the seat, then let the swing spin years until he would reach 5 or 6 so they would grow back in. And
like a propeller. One time, just after John shouted, “Here comes the then a couple of years later in Roy, Ken had another unfortunate inci-
good part,” when the rope completely unwound, then jerked and start- dent. He was hollering that he wanted some ‘chicken poop’, his name
ed winding in the opposite direction, the rope on John’s side broke and for chicken soup, then he reached up on his tip-toes where Mom had a
bucked him off like a wild bronco. Margaret was in the middle and sauce pan heating the soup, and pulled it over to see if it was ready yet.
Tony on the side that didn’t break. John somehow landed face first on The contents ran all over his shoulder giving him a large serious burn.
a wooden pallet. According to John, “Margaret landed on top of my Joyce said, “Most of the kids called it ‘chicken poop’, but Ken would
head and Tony on top of her to make sure there was enough pressure have the most reason to: That was a bad burn!” He was rushed to the
for my face to karate chop the pallet board to break it in three places. emergency room and had some real pain to deal with for days after.

30 Taming The Monster Lost And Found 31


And then there was Suzy’s run in with the neighbor’s car. According At one point towards the end of the sickness, Mom needed to go into
to eye witness Margaret, “It seems to me that Suzy was on my most town to pick up some medicines and left Joyce momentarily in charge
prized possession, the bouncy horse, so I threw her precious rubber of the ‘infirmary’. Everyone was in recovery phase, and following so
ball, hoping that she would chase after it, which she did. Unfortu- many weeks of confinement, a lot of restlessness built up, so the young
nately, her ball rolled under a car that was parked between ours and patients tok advantage of Mom being gone and started jumping on the
the neighbor’s house. While she was trying to get it, the guy (Alan mattresses and throwing pillows. As luck would have it, in Mom’s brief
Braukman) came out, jumped in the car, and tried to back up. His absence, and just as the pillow fight was underway, a county health
movement was impeded by her head. Apparently my look of panic (or official knocked on the door for purpose of inquiring why Joyce had
was it joy that she wouldn’t be riding my horse in the future!!!) and such a prolonged absence from school. Joyce coyly opened the door
pointing, got his attention, so he got out and a big hullaballoo hap- just a crack to hide the flurry of feathers behind her, but just as she was
pened after that. Even though there was hair loss and lots of shiny goo, closing the conversation and feeling that she had managed the visitor
probably bag balm, I do not believe that she ever went to the hospital, quite professionally, a flying pillow made her duck exposing what was
so it must not have been a problem.” going on in the living room. Joyce said, “That nurse didn’t seem very
happy with me after that, or so I thought from my little kid perspec-
As far as the other regular kid’s illnesses, we all got them in groups: tive.”
Misery had company. It seems the nuns at the grade school had this
well calculated. During Advent, they would hand out free theater pass- The health official stapled a white plaque with black letters to the side
es for a seasonal movie shown at the Hillsboro Theater, where scores of the front door that read, “QUARANTINE”, and left. Joyce recalls
of kids from other schools would also be aggregating to watch the as a first grader not having that word in her vocabulary yet, so was
flick. That way they optimized the inoculation rate, assuring that the concerned whether she should be proud or ashamed of it. Regardless,
majority of their pupils would come down with chicken pox, measles, it turned out that the folks had to get approval for her to go back to
or mumps, or all three, during the holidays, minimizing absences due school.
to illness. So Mom took advantage of the free tickets and shuttled us
to the ‘big screen’, and we all came down with something! That was
probably the last of using our free movie tickets.

Joyce recalls when the family was living in the EverMay Farm’s ‘other
place’ house while she was a first grader at Visitation Grade School,
that she came down with both chicken pox and the measles, which
made her miss about six weeks of school. Of course she shared the
germ with her siblings, so Jim, Tony, and Jane also came down with the
illnesses (Somehow John was spared because he was but a tiny one).
Joyce said, “Mom had brought all of the mattresses down from upstairs
and lined them up in the living room to make it easier to handle all
of the sickness at once. Mom took good care of us when we were sick,
and having a passel of sick kids would not have been fun.”

32 Taming The Monster Lost And Found 33


The Judge-
ment Day
Besides our piano lessons, Mom facilitated our involvement in other
activities during our childhood: 4-H Clubs and Scouts were two or-
ganizations that we participated. And one must also mention reading
contests and doing book reports. Reviewing Mom’s scrapbook, it is
evident that Mom was a very active 4-H member, particularly with
horses and sheep, and then once she was over the membership eligibil-
ity, became a leader starting at age 19.

The family first tuned in to 4-H when Joyce, the oldest, became a
member of Mom and Pat Dierickx’s led 4-H sewing club. The bi-
weekly meetings would rotate and be hosted at various member’s
home, but when it was hosted at the Evers’ home, the siblings would
have to try to be quiet and observe from afar. The formality of the
meetings which used ‘Robert’s Rules Of Orders’, was interesting for

34 Taming The Monster The Judgement Day 35

1965
the kids but more than that, seeing their Mother lead and teach a ment of the Roy School. We created some curry dish that had lots
group of mostly strangers new things like she had been doing it all of of toppings, I imagine this was something that she had while visiting
her life, made them want to participate. However they were told that Aunt Peggy, where there were bowls upon bowls of things that you can
4-H members had to be at least nine years old; therefore for now, Joyce add to the top of a pile of rice and sauce. My friends and I were so
was the only family member who could be in 4-H. proud of this beautiful feast with all the fancy dishes and place settings.
We served the teachers and hid out in the kitchen watching their reac-
As each of the kids attainted membership age, Mom organized the tions, waiting for the effusive praise that we so rightly deserved! I can
family 4-H calendar getting everyone to their respective meetings, fol- still see Sister Ruth’s red face as she sat continuously chewing on celery
lowing up on each person’s 4-H record keeping, and making sure that stick after celery stick trying to put out the fire. Apparently we made
any held office duties were accomplished, such as the club secretary the dinner a wee bit spicier then the nuns might have liked.”
properly writing up the meeting minutes and her favorite, the club
news reporter, writing up and sending a report to the local newspaper. It seemed that cooking wasn’t one of Mom’s passions, so maybe she
Thanks to that, we all have lots of Forest Grove Times and Hillsboro had ulterior motives to have the kids join the 4-H Cooking Club.
Argus articles in our scrapbooks highlighting our personal 4-H in- Joyce was the first one to be trained so Mom very smartly handed that
volvement, activities, and contest winnings. task on to her at a young age. At first the younger kids were jealous
because that meant Joyce got out of the after dinner chores of clearing
Christine Peters was a member of Mom’s 4-H Sewing club for a num- the table and washing and drying the dishes. But in the end, we all
ber of years and said that she is forever grateful to Mom for pushing agree that it was a brilliant move as Joyce’s early start and sufficient
her and the rest of the members to learn and do all that they possibly practice has served the family well for many years! Tony managed
could in 4-H sewing and fashion show. Christine remarked, “Your to escape cooking for the family because he quickly took a liking to
Mom made it fun while we learned how to sew and best present our- adding food coloring to everything he prepared. His initial rendition
selves. Mostly, she helped us grow in confidence. I think of her so of green eggs and ham got some chuckles, but following a repeat per-
often whenever I do a presentation in front of adults. I tell myself that formance, Mom said that was enough. Joyce remembers Tony coming
this is like a demonstration at the fair, and I can do THIS!” up with some pretty bizarrely colored popcorn balls, which of course
were quickly eaten regardless. And John added, “Tony also managed
Tony remembers Mom leading both a 4-H Cooking and Sewing Club to get out of doing the dishes as well because he would mysteriously
when he was 9 in which he was encouraged and became a member. always have the urge to go number two for twenty minutes precisely
One of the highlights of the Cooking Club was planning, preparing, at the end of dinner.”
and serving a multi-course dinner for member’s parents. “It was a
big deal for us,” Tony recalls, “We got dressed in Sunday best, set the We would occasionally have some unique vegetables appear at the din-
table to English standards, and cooked and served a great meal, in my ner table which were grown in our garden. Mom would receive Gur-
humble opinion. Recipes were followed carefully for each of the en- ney’s and some other seed catalogues in the mail and we would peruse
trees, and cups, tablespoons and teaspoons were used with precision to to pick out the things we would plant in the spring. Kohl Rabi was a
measure each of the ingredients for the dishes.” table standard, but none of our friends ever had it at their homes. One
year Mom ordered some purple potato tubers which seemed to flour-
Margaret had a similar experience in her 4-H Cooking Club. She said, ish quite well. Joyce recalls, “they looked so weird with butter melting
“One year Mom had us make a fancy dinner for the nuns in the base- on them when mashed and turning colors where it melted. We always

36 Taming The Monster The Judgement Day 37


delighted to serve them to guests to see their reaction, but the potatoes that time, Mom had already given Joyce the family table that had the
themselves when cooked, looked like a pile of molded crap.” underside runners, ideal for tucking chicken livers in it. But the dis-
appointment in the gravy was short lasted because for dessert, Mom
But Mom definitely gets the pie baking award. She was super-fast pulled Blackberry Special from the fridge, and after the first helpings,
at whipping out homemade pie dough that no one else cared to do she even delighted in allowing him to square up the cut edges in the
because dealing with metering out shortening and working it into the pan.
crust was messy, even when one followed Mom’s technique dolloping
it in water in a liquid Pyrex measuring cup. For most family occasions, 4-H Garden Club was big with Mom. First she took the kids to Rita
Mom always comes with an assortment of pies, hitting everyone’s fa- Hermen’s Club in Verboort. Later Mom led the Garden Club. The
vorites. garden beside the house was divided so that each member had their
designated space, and after it was spaded and tilled, the rest was the
However Tony says that he fondly remembers some of Mom’s gravies, kid’s responsibility from planning, seeding, watering, weeding, through
especially her chicken gravy, which for him was real comfort food. He harvesting. We got to research each vegetable that would be planted
said that during the time he was staying at Merle and Marilyn Peters’ and figure out spacing between plants and rows, also avoiding insert-
while working for them, he quickly came to appreciate that not every- ing a plant type that would shade another and hamper its growth.
one’s mother could turn out a topping for potatoes like Mom could.
And Mom’s leftover gravy and potatoes in the refrigerator were always A few weeks before the Washington County Fair, we’d get a visit from
an after hours treat for John who never bothered to heat them up, just the County Extension Agent who would inspect each of our gardens,
dumped the red Pyrex bowl half full of cold globby gravy over the rest provide a written evaluation, and award either a blue, red, or a white
of the spuds (that were in the green Pyrex bowl) and gulped them ribbon. We were all such great little gardeners, that we typically got
down. The Pyrex glass bowls were part of a set of four, an original blue ribbons. After making sure our garden spaces were weed free,
wedding gift, that included the largest yellow, green, red, then blue. we’d rake the soil so it resembled a Japanese garden. But one year,
Mom still has them today, and it is amazing they survived all those Jim and Tony slacked on their project and let the pig weeds and lambs
years, including all the picnic and camping trips where the red one quarter get out of control. Mom warned them that they should go pull
would typically be filled with potato salad with sweet pickles, Mom’s the weeds out because she was anticipating the extension agent’s visit.
favorite; and the yellow or green one with potato salad with dill pick- The boys took the easy way and chopped them off at ground level with
les, everyone else’s favorite. a hoe, leaving the roots in the soil. After all, what did Mom know, the
agent will never figure out they took a short cut! That afternoon, Ver-
One time when Tony was visiting from the Midwest, Mom invited non Atwood, extension agent, showed up and quizzed the boys why
him to her Beaverton apartment for dinner and asked if there were any there were so many water spots at the surface of the soil. He said obvi-
dishes that he was craving that she could fix for him. Tony told her ously they cut the weeds off at the surface and the roots were bleeding;
that he would love to have some of her fried chicken and gravy. Seated however he said that they would grow back even stronger. They broke
at the dining table, Tony dished himself up with an ample helping of the family’s perfect record and got reds for that poor effort.
boiled potatoes and smothered them with the gravy, only to find out
that Mom had extended the gravy by chopping up and adding chicken But our whole family was on top of their game at the Washington
liver to it. Tony never cared for chicken liver, so didn’t quite know County Fair 4-H Vegetable Gardening Section. We had to have sev-
how to deal with Mom’s ingrained rule of ‘clean your plate’, and by eral uniform groups of four vegetables that we put on display in an ap-

38 Taming The Monster The Judgement Day 39


proximate 16” x 24” box. Mom assisted us in finalizing our selections, bummed that after so many hours of work, I only earned a couple dol-
or one might say she facilitated exchanging produce between the kids. lars. We had to dig and show the roots though, not just chop them
For example with only one or two pepper plants in a youngster’s gar- off !”
den plot, at times it helped to ‘borrow’ a fourth pepper from a sibling
to make up the quartet. After all we helped each other with their gar- One time while the family was care taking a neighbor’s farm, the
dens, but at fair time, it would get quite competitive and Mom stepped Nash’s, while they were on vacation, Mom thought their formal rose
in to help the sharing. garden was in need of some TLC. Certainly it was beyond the scope
of what the Nash’s had expected of us, but Mom hated to see such a
At the exhibit, we would thoroughly soak down the dry peat moss lovely plot of roses in disarray. So she weeded, then pruned all of the
which would be placed at the base of the box before arranging our har- roses. There was a very tall Bull Thistle in the middle of the garden
vest in the display. That, Mom advised, helped the vegetables maintain which she left intact, and hung a big sign on it that said, ‘American
their fresh look through the duration of the fair and especially look Beauty Rose’. When Mrs. Nash returned, she commented, “Oh it is
sharp on judging day. such a lovely rose, nice to know it has a name.” She didn’t even recog-
nize that it was in fact, a weed.

In between all the vegetables, Mom did manage to fit in a fair amount
“I so appreciate Mom allowing me of flowers. First there was Jim’s project, a two-step railroad tie retain-
to ‘help’ as I pulled out many flowers, ing wall along the garden side of the house that kept the soil at bay
from the foundation. This included significant space for early flower-
leaving behind the pretty weeds.” ing flower varieties and interplanted with geraniums and other colorful
spots giving spring to late autumn color viewed from the double living
room windows. Eventually a weeping blue Atlas cedar was planted
alongside where cars parked and the flower bed was extended out to
After everyone’s exhibits were complete, we turned to the other side the driveway. This project was accelerated when Tim Dierickx gave
of the hall where identification and judging contests were being held. Mom some Round Up and showed her how it was possible to control
Mom encouraged us to participate in the related activities, and during quack grass, and gave more room for hosting lovely geranium plants
the non-gardening month meetings, she quizzed all of us on insect including the latest, Martha Washington, and other annuals. Mom
and weed identification. So at the fair we walked around the tables would winter the geraniums in the girl’s room to get a head start for
where assorted pests were on display and attempted to identify them, the next summer.
writing down their names on our contest sheets. We typically did well
in these contests. Margaret recalled, “I never was a big fan of gardening, although I did
love the colorful flower beds that we had around the house. And I so
Of course some of the weed identification came easy, particularly the appreciate Mom allowing me to ‘help’ as I pulled out many flowers,
ones that we were sent out periodically to chop out of the cow and leaving behind the pretty weeds. Now I try in vain every year to do
sheep pasture, like tansy ragwort and bull thistle. Joyce recalls the kids a little something with color to brighten my day, but I will say that I
being paid for taking out noxious weeds. She said, “We were paid a have NEVER included geraniums. As pretty as they might be, they
penny a piece for those. I recall working really hard for several days stink to high heaven. After years of smelling the mason jars filled with
in a row in the hot sun, and coming in to collect my ‘due’ and being

40 Taming The Monster The Judgement Day 41


clippings molding upon our bedroom window over the winter, I would but never finished, much less, polished their presentations. They were
be happy never to smell a geranium again.” scheduled to begin presenting starting at 1:00 pm on the 15th of Au-
gust, but they had overheard Mom talking with the judge earlier in the
Tony thinks back when he and Mom took a class in wreath making day that she was going to drive herself to the hospital. So the two boys
and floral arrangements. The large classroom was inside an ornamen- were certain that by this hour she had already left, and they headed to
tal plant filled greenhouse. They were underway making their first the carnival section of the fair to skip the demonstration contest.
bouquet when the instructor made an announcement. He told them
the first class rule was to maintain a clean work area. He said that if But just as they were leaving the Livestock Section of the fair, the judge
you eliminate the clutter in front of you, you’ll be more creative, so spotted them, rounded them up and said, “Come with me, we’re all set
anything you aren’t going to use gets thrown on the floor. Mom was up, we’re gonna hear your demonstrations in the Dairy Barn where
pained at Tony’s delight of throwing gobs of branches and greenery your Mom is perched on a hay bale, but we have to make these quick
scraps on the floor and accumulated quite a bit of litter around him, so because she needs to head off to the hospital. And she said she won’t
turned to him and said, “Don’t get too comfortable with this, it won’t go until after you finish your demonstrations.” The two boys slopped
be the rule at my house.” through their presentations, were poorly prepared, had half done post-
ers, and for sure, were an embarrassment to their Mother and a lack of
Mom encouraged all of her 4-H members to give demonstrations, respect for the judge. What shocked the boys is that Mom knew the
and a portion of the 4-H meetings was slotted with the kids making 4-H judge, who was from another County, and they thought that they
presentations using poster boards following the 4-H standard which would be able to blow him off as a nobody. But a few years later, in
included an introduction, body, and a summary. As the summer ap- 1974, Mom was invited to return to her home County, Clackamas, to
proached, we would fine tune the demonstrations readying to partici- be a 4-H demonstration judge. It was a small connected 4-H world.
pate in this ‘public speaking’ contest at the County Fair. Whereas a
few of the non-family club members found excuses to opt out, giving a Back at Washington County Fair, after Jim and Tony concluded their
4-H demonstration at the Fair was obligatory for the Evers’ kids. And demonstrations, the judge asked if he could drive Mom to the hospital,
Mom always monitored the kids’ demonstrations at the fair. One year, but she declined and said she could manage as she did with the other
Joyce’s blue-ribbon demonstration caught the attention of Channel seven. The judge was concerned so walked her through the parking
Two and she and her demonstration partner, Christine Peters, went to lot to the car. A few hours later we were informed that we had a new
the Portland TV studio for filming. Later we all got to see them on a baby sister. Susanne, if only you had been born on the 14th, or the
Saturday morning television broadcast. morning of the 15th, you would have spared your two older brothers
giving their last 4H demonstrations.
One spring Mom got her stash of vitamins and iron supplements
down from an upper cupboard and that was the signal the kids learned One year AT&T had a grand booth in the commercial exhibit sec-
that she was pregnant again. This time it would be Susanne. Jim and tion of the Washington County fair promoting the roll-out of their
Tony realized that her due date would coincide with the Washing- new ‘Princess Phone’. It was a rectangular phone with curved edges
ton County Fair and were certain that she would be at the hospital and a lighter footprint compared to our home vintage square black
at the same time their demonstrations were scheduled, so they could phone that weighed like a brick. The princess phone came in a variety
duck out of the obligation. They only halfheartedly prepared for the of colors to go with most room decor, except black. The AT&T folks
demonstration, just to show Mom that they were making progress, were giving out miniature princess phone key chains to launch their

42 Taming The Monster The Judgement Day 43


new product, and was one of the few ‘free’ things at the fair that year.
They only allowed one key chain per person, so Jim and Tony figured
out when the booth holders changed hands, then would pass by again
to collect another of the various colors to accumulate a complete set.
Once that feat was accomplished, they entered into competition to
see who could get the most princess phone key sets and by end of fair,
they had half the tack-box filled with the plastic miniature telephones.

Jim and Tony scoured the rest of the commercial exhibit area looking
for other freebies: a lot of the booths had posted ‘Sign Up For A Prize’;
so with time on their hands in between barn duty, they did just that.
They became rampant in filling out all of the ‘drawing’ slips writing
the home address and telephone number, certain that they would win
one of those grand prizes. As it turned out, a couple of weeks after the
fair, Mom became inundated with telephone calls and some door-to-
door peddlers. One particular encyclopedia salesman showed up at
the farm so many times, pestering Mom to buy a set, that she finally
mentioned ‘Mr. Pushy’ to Dad, who came walking up to the house
with a sledge hammer in hand, which seemed to suffice as a ‘no sale’
notice. After that incident, Tony and Jim were no longer allowed to
visit commercial booths at the fair.

44 Taming The Monster The Judgement Day 45

2014. Mom at her 80th birthday party with Adelaide.


Farm Vacation
In the summer of ‘65 our family exchanged houses with Grandma and
Grandpa Bert Evers and moved into their EverMay Farm house in
Verboort. We were all excited about actually living on Dad’s family’s
farm. We had spent a lot of time there previously, going along with
Dad while he was working. While we thought that we were “helping”
Dad, other Uncles, and the milker, we were undoubtedly more pest
then help and definitely did our share of mischief. So we assumed that
moving onto the farm would be more of the same. Wrong!

Mom called the kids out to the barn to help with the afternoon milk-
ing of the 100 cow herd. It was a stanchion milking barn so grain
needed to be scooped into the feeders, a group of cows let in, locked in
place, udders washed, and then milked. Sometimes a cow would have
laid in a cow pie in the pasture or her sleeping stall, making her udder
really dirty, totally coated with manure. It would need an intensive
cleaning before putting on the milking machine. Mom noticed that
Tony, in particular, would skip the dirty cows and move down the line

46 Taming The Monster Farm Vacation 47

1967. Mom with Margaret on Ginger at EverMay Farms.


to wash a clean one, leaving the other for his siblings or the milker to
contend with. So Mom took him by the hand to demonstrate how to
clean it. She put both of their hands right into the manure, scraped
it off, then used water and a sponge to get it real clean. Tony didn’t
like putting his hands in the manure, but having to do it repetitiously,
he finally got used to it. (Imagine that now he is up to his elbows in
chicken manure every day and enjoying it thanks to Mom’s training!)

While the last of the cows were being milked, the kids would feed
milk by bucket to the young calves. They would always save a bit of
milk to splash in a container in the corridor of the calf barn and several
dozen cats would converge to partake of it. The cats were not pets but
just always around. Some of them would hang around the back porch
entrance to the farm house waiting for table scraps. The porch was a
built-in enclosure that housed the washer and dryer and the entrance
to the kitchen. Mom generally did the laundry there – it wasn’t until
we moved back to Roy that she assigned some of the kids this task.
On one brisk winter day, she pulled warm clothes from the dryer and
after transferring the washing machine load of white clothes, she was
1994. Mom with Ken and Erin and family. interrupted, leaving the dryer door open. Shortly she returned, closed
the door and set the heating dial for 60 minutes. After the dryer
cycle was complete, she found that her white load had all turned pink.
Inadvertently a cat had jumped into the dryer finding a warm spot
during the pause, and ended up coloring all of the clothes. If only she
had trademarked the tie-dyed fashion look before Jerry Garcia took
all the credit.

It was shortly after we moved to the farm that Mom bought two hors-
es, Ginger and Pepper, both aptly named for their coloration. Mom
took her two saddles, an English and a Western, out of storage along
with lots of bridles, straps and other gear. We learned all about sad-
dle soap and spent lots of hours rubbing, cleaning, and polishing the
leather, bringing it back to life. Tony wanted some spurs to ride with,
but Mom told him he had to earn them first, learning to ride and
gaining the horse’s respect. With maybe just one riding lesson from
Mom, he thought he knew it all, and decided to take Pepper to the
Verboort School playground to show off to everyone. Instead of going

48 Taming The Monster Farm Vacation 49

1994. Mom riding in a family round up.


to the school, Pepper took him down the cemetery lane next to the Joyce said that Pepper did everything possible to get back to the barn,
house, bucked him off on the cemetery lawn, then returned back to the “I learned years later, when Marissa was into horses, what that was
barn to be with Ginger. Mom had Tony ride with the English saddle, about as some horses are just like that, but I had to endure a whole lot
wanting him to learn to ride without having a horn to grab on, so Tony of agony at the time, including that damn horse galloping from Van-
blamed his spill on not being able to use the Western saddle with the dyke’s back to the farm with me hanging on for dear life. It frightens
hand hold. He did give credit to Pepper for his courtesy, remarking me now just to remember that treacherous run! Mom had taught me
that after he threw him to the ground, he paused for a moment, turned about pulling one side of the reigns to pull the horse in a circle to stop
around to check if he was alright, before trotting off to his stable. that behavior, but when I tried, I did not have the strength. Mom
learned to ride from real masters in the horse business while she was
growing up, watching for hours her next door neighbor who was a
trainer for western shows.”
“In the back of Mom’s closet, she
kept a pair of beautiful shiny cow- Margaret commented that Mom shared her love of horses with her,
but laments that the horses were sold before she was old enough to
boy boots. I used to sneak in there actually experience them. She said, “So John might have snuck off
to the rodeo every chance he got at the fair but you could always find
and try them on, although they me hanging out at the horse barn. All those beautiful animals with
the shiny buckles and fancy tack, the riders with their pretty clothes
were way too big for me.” was nirvana.” Margaret added, “In the back of Mom’s closet, she kept
a pair of beautiful shiny cowboy boots. I used to sneak in there and
try them on, although they were way too big for me. One day Mom
Joyce recalled, “Ginger was Mom’s horse, an Arabian, and way too caught me and instead of the business end of the wooden spoon, she
feisty for me to get on. I was seriously too afraid to ride her.” Joyce re- nicely told me that if I left them alone, she would give them to me
membered Ginger kicking in the air while Mom was riding it. “Mom when I was big enough.” (According to Tony, the snoop, “Of course
loved it,” Joyce said. Commenting on Pepper, Joyce said, “He was a Mom didn’t want Margaret in that closet, because that was her main
quarter horse with an iron mouth who only wanted to be in the barn. hiding place for birthday and Christmas gifts.”) Margaret said, “I held
I rode Pepper for hours around the “arena”, a place that Mom created on to that notion for years, anxiously waiting until I had that pair as
behind the loafing sheds, working really hard to get that horse to fol- my very own cowboy boots. That is, up until she handed them to me
low commands. Mom worked and worked with me to teach me how when I was in the fifth grade and they were two sizes too small.”
to get Pepper to behave as we went through all the paces. I was not
really into horses, but figured I could at least try. My classmate and “One day Mom took us to some pre-fair event where for every en-
neighbor Vicky Vandyke (Hertel) was into them, and it seemed like it try you got a raffle ticket”, recalled Margaret. She continued, “Well at
could be fun. Mom often rode Ginger at the same time, many loops this event I had brought along a batch of chickens, ducks, plus about
around the arena, and with Margaret in front of her on the saddle. a million other entries so I ended up with a huge stack of tickets. I
Margaret was little and probably doesn’t recall much of it, but I can tell remember being bummed out that my pathetic attempts at participat-
you that she rode that horse many times.” ing earned me little more than white ribbons, however when the raffle
numbers were called, I was embarrassed about going up there over and

50 Taming The Monster Farm Vacation 51


over and over again to claim the prize. I think I won half of the items Jim liked playing in the barn, but was fearful to enter in case there be
there, but what I really wanted was not this huge fancy doll that was a dead calf there. He would send one of his siblings in first to see if
the talk of the place (or maybe just Suzy wanted it), but a baby pony it was clear of dead ones before he would go in. Jim was bigger than
that wasn’t even weaned yet. I wanted to win that more than I ever the rest, and sometimes would pick on the younger ones. At first we
wanted anything in my life...and wa-lah, my number was called. I won cooperated with him and told the truth; then later we figured out that
and became the proud owner of...absolutely nothing! Even though by telling him there was a dead calf, regardless if it were true or not, we
I kept pestering her for months if the pony was ready yet, Mom was could use that barn as a safe haven. Also Tony discovered that carrying
better at math, so had figured out that by the time the Pony was old an animal bone in his back pocket served as protection. Unfortunately
enough to be worked with, I would be way too big to do anything with that didn’t last very long, as soon Jim got over his fear, and life with an
it. That was my first real horse experience...easy come, easy go!” older brother reverted to normal.

Margaret said, “Apparently Mom felt sorry for me so she borrowed One of our favorite pastimes on the farm was building and playing in
Uncle Gene’s pony, ‘Tiny May’, an absolutely beautiful Shetland pony. hay forts. There was a lot of hay for that activity: the whole upstairs
I spent lots of time galloping her up and down the driveway. She only of the large main barn was filled with hay, above the milking barn,
seemed to have one speed, and I LOVED it! One day Mom pulled and hay was stacked high on top the plastic covered silage in the pit
into the driveway and we raced her up the driveway. Mom got out silo. We would build long tunnels under the hay to get to hidden
and asked me why the pony was bucking and I proudly replied that forts and use them in hide and seek games. One time Ken tattled to
was Tiny May’s gallop. Tiny May went back to Uncle Gene’s shortly Mom on one of us for probably doing something we shouldn’t have
thereafter!” been doing; but nonetheless, we didn’t appreciate getting in trouble, so
we decided to sequester Ken in one of the ‘deluxe’ forts which was on
Margaret continued, “The best horsing around was when Mom finally top the silage pit. We managed to lure him inside then stacked over
got so fed up with my lack of berry picking skills, she somehow got the entrance. Just as we were finishing up, we heard Mom doing her
me linked up with the Lewis’ who lived beside the Dierickx’s berry whistle call all the way from the house, which meant it was lunch time,
farm. I would go ride their horse as often as possible, and we rode all and with all that heavy hay handling, we sure were hungry. We washed
over the farm. I would rip around at break neck speed in back pastures up and then sat at the table expecting to be served like any ordinary
where the grass was taller than the horse. No one ever new where I day. But Mom came to the table and immediately looked at the plate
was, nor did I think of all the rusty farm implements buried in the setting that was missing a person. “Where’s Ken?” she asked. “We
grass, or gopher holes waiting for me to have a serious accident, but don’t know,” everyone responded. “Well we can’t eat until someone
life was beautiful on the back of that horse! Every time he came to a finds him,” Mom replied. For so many kids to not know where he was,
railroad tie bridge, he would stand up and do the “Hi Ho Silver” thing. it didn’t take them long to go to the fort, open it up, and release him.
I thought that was so very cool.” Margaret said, “Years later, when
Mom, Erin and I were taking fancy riding lessons from this renowned As it turned out, Ken ended up being the master fort builder of the
Arab horse lady, she mentioned that if any of her horses feet ever came family. Maybe it had to do with that hour or so in confinement with
off the ground, they would be dog food. How was I to know that the ample time to reflect on it’s construction. Joyce commented, “Ken is
Lone Ranger was riding dangerously? His horse, Silver, did it several known by many of Mom’s grandkids and great grandkids as the fort
times every episode!” builder, as he can indeed create quite a series of tunnels and twists. For
example, he recently build a fort in Mom’s hay loft for Anika’s birthday

52 Taming The Monster Farm Vacation 53


party that was quite the hit. Also, I can recall he did this for Marga- Later while in Roy, John came up with an ingenious way to utilize the
ret’s kids, mine and probably his own as well. I verified this with Mar- left over golf balls we carried with us: He converted the lawn picnic
garet, who asked Carson, who heartily agreed that the hay forts were table into a pool table using 2” by 2” boards around its perimeter. He
to remember even years later. Ken became the master.” used a broomstick, or something like that for a cue stick, and he and
Ken would spend their spare time dueling around the home made bil-
Later when Joyce’s dog Tippy had puppies and they were getting quite liard table.
large, Mom told us that it was time to find homes for them or Dad
would dispose of them. We put a sign out front by our mailbox but Another activity we did at Roy was hatching frog eggs on the front
that didn’t generate any interest, and all of our friends’ families already porch. At any given time, we’d have several buckets of creek water
had dogs, so we didn’t know what to do, there must have been about with various stages from eggs to tadpoles, and every once in awhile, one
eight of them. Someone mentioned we could hide them in our newest that would smell a bit rank: the ones that didn’t hatch. On the walk
hay fort, so that day was dedicated to doing just that. We were cer- back from grade school, just before Moore’s house and the Roy store,
tain the fort was built so well that they wouldn’t get out and we used there was a wooden bridge over a small creek, and during the wetter
the tunnels to sneak food in for them. We told the folks that we had months, water would accumulate there making a tiny pond, perfect for
given them all away. The next afternoon we were beckoned back to the skimming off frog eggs or catching other critters to take home with
house by Mom’s loud whistle and then were sent to the barn to help us. Occasionally we’d slip into the water which meant shoe polishing
Dad with the milking. After finishing up the chores, we all walked added to our nightly to-do list. Unfortunately a few years later, the old
back to the house for dinner, and guess who greeted us at the back bridge was pulled out and replaced with a culvert, and the water no
door? Eight puppies that managed to escape their fortified hide-out. longer accumulated there, destroying our small biologic community.

Jane remembers well Mom’s whistle saying, “It was famous and so in- Mom hosted a Grossenbacher Picnic at EverMay Farms the end of the
credibly loud. It seemed like you could hear it miles away. And then first summer we lived there. There had been a lot of “stuff ” and junk
one day it disappeared. Perhaps she didn’t need it any more to corral left laying all around. Our Uncles, Dad’s brothers, would bring old
kids, maybe lack of use. For some reason she lost the skill. It seems a parts that they currently didn’t need, but might have use for later, and
strange skill to lose.” just dump them for safe keeping at the family farm. Mom, with the
kids help, scoured the whole place, cleaning and organizing, and got it
While living on EverMay Farms, there was the ‘other place’, that was into tip top shape for the family gathering. The State Dairy Inspector
next to a golf course and we would occasionally go comb the pasture even commented that it was about time that the place got a thorough
right next to it looking for over-shot balls. We had collected quite a cleaning as with so many previous violations, he was contemplating
few of them and the good ones, free of nicks and scratches, at times downgrading the milk license from “A” to “B” grade. Separately Mom
we would sell to our uncles. We were also curious about what was also hosted Aunt Jean and her kids at the farm. Tony remembers he
inside the balls and took advantage of the farm shop’s vice and tools to and John showing cousin Brian how to drive a tractor when they were
cut them open. They all had yards and yards of rubber band wrapped picking up hay.
around an inner smaller ball, which in many cases was just hard rubber
that didn’t bounce much. In other cases, we found the ball was filled We had quite a large garden the first year in Verboort, and with it a
with a heavy liquid and would delight in puncturing and watching it bountiful harvest. So like all good little Catholic gardeners, we loaded
spew. a bunch of the produce in our wagon and rolled it down to the local

54 Taming The Monster Farm Vacation 55


nun’s house next to the grade school. (Now granted the majority of the this was not the norm. (She also seemed to me to have had no issue
wagon was zucchini, something most of us didn’t care for – that is until with Latinos either, both poor in migrant camps that she arranged for
Mom started making zucchini bread – and even with that, there is a us to visit and help through school and youth group projects, and those
limit to the number of zucchinis one can consume making bread.) We well established, like my best high school friend, Lu, or the various
figured it was late enough in the summer that the sisters would be back exchange students that I brought home.) Or maybe that’s how I see
from the mother house preparing for classes, and a good opportunity it with rosy glasses! The willingness to both be in local things and to
to find out who our teachers would be, maybe even impress them. The expand beyond the provincial was a gift to all of us in many ways. Her
seventh grade teacher answered the door. She said that the rest of the openness to jumping in the car and driving to Portland was not some-
sisters were out doing some errands. Joyce would be in the seventh thing any of our friends growing up out there did. I do recall when I
grade that year, so that nun would be her teacher; however Joyce was said I went to Portland to go Christmas shopping, the teacher asked
up in Seattle, staying with Uncle Carl and Aunt Bonnie when Carl who had ever been to Portland, and only two people in the class raised
worked for Boeing. Since we struck out on meeting our teachers, the their hands. It was so odd that people were oohing and awing over
least we could do was fill in this nun on her new pupil, Joyce. Of course something we took for granted. (A Banks suburbanite before it existed
first off we informed about Joyce taking her first flight up to Seattle, as a thing.) Furthermore she drove on the freeway like a crazy woman
then everyone took turns jabbering about all things Joyce. By the end until I turned 15 and got a permit, and suddenly speed limits were to
of our visit, the nun undoubtedly learned more about Joyce than Joyce be obeyed, like she reported that she always did...it helps to have a bad
knew herself. Apparently this caused a real embarrassment for Joyce memory sometimes!”
on her first day at the new school when her teacher called her up to
the front of the class to explain about her first flight and trip to Seattle. Mom would sometimes take the kids along to the Sing Out practices
to observe and they got to know a number of the members and their
During our last spring while living in Verboort, the Visitation Grade families. Tony commented that was when the family started following
School hosted an Up With People Sing Out concert for all of the stu- the Rose Festival Princess contest. “We met some of the contestants
dents. It was a very vibrant event with catchy tunes and something ev- through their involvement with Up With People, and Mom started
eryone was surprised that the nuns would allow. Joyce says the credit cutting out their pictures from the newspaper and posting them on the
went to her teacher, Sister Dismaria. Joyce joined the musical group side of the refrigerator,” he said.
that summer before high school, in 1967, and given that she didn’t
have a driver’s license, Mom drove her to all of the Portland based The following summer, Mom scheduled a Grossenbacher Picnic at a
practice sessions and concerts and got to know the musical leader and Portland Park where the Sing Out group was performing and got the
many of the members. opportunity to showcase Joyce’s involvement with the group in front
of the extended family, also for everyone to see Joyce perform a duet
Regarding Mom’s involvement in the Sing Out group, Joyce com- with Kip, singing, “When You Point Your Finger At Your Neighbor”.
mented, “I thought it cool at the time (with race riots and the like Mom took most of the family to see Up With People National per-
starting to occur in the country) that Mom was comfortable going to form at a concert venue in Portland in 1967, then led Sing Out Roy at
the home of our black music director, enjoying meals with them, shar- the Saint Francis Roy School in 1968.
ing struggles related to performances and life, and inviting them out to
our house in Roy, etc. Mom even volunteer babysat for them. I think Mom took a Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) training
there was only one black family in our church, maybe whole area, so class while living in Shedd in 1961, then taught CCD for quite a num-

56 Taming The Monster Farm Vacation 57


ber of years. CCD classes were held on Wednesday evening for those
that attended public school, but our family attended Catholic grade
school so we didn’t participate. But still Jim and Tony dreaded the ‘ter-
rible CCD Wednesdays’ because Mom would teach the religion class-
es alongside the nuns, their teachers, and Mom would typically get an
earful of their weekly misbehaving. After the meeting, on Thursdays
and Fridays, the two boys would be on their best behavior to avoid bad
reports, but after the weekend, they would be remiss and Mom would
get another bad report. One time Tony had to explain to Mom why
he wrote Hello Sister all around the classroom, then crossed out the
“o’s”. And that was done with some of Mom’s magic markers that Jim
took to school, something we were forbidden to use unless it was for
4-H posters. The nuns confiscated all of them and returned them back
to Mom on CCD Wednesday, something Jim had to explain as well.

Joyce recalls her first and second grade year especially, when she had
to memorize parts of the Baltimore catechism, so she would bring it
as homework hoping Mom would help her. The prayers and responses
to the questions were not all that easy to master. Joyce said, “Instead
Mom would make sure that I understood the concepts of the teach-
ings and could defend them. So, inevitably, I wouldn’t be able to spit
them back at school in the exact formula, and I recall spending a few
recesses indoors! If only the nuns had asked me to explain them, I
would have nailed that! Those Presbyterians!! Or was it prostitutes,
that Margaret confused with the word, Protestant.”

Mom would participate in weekly evening Prayer Meetings and


through this community she became a member of a “Prayer Chain”.
The home telephone would often ring with an affiliate of the group
calling to report on someone in need of the team’s prayers. Many
times they would just want to speak with Mom, but other times the
caller was in a rush and would leave a message with the details. Those
were the calls that the kids enjoyed taking. It was like a precursor to
Facebook, we got to hear interesting tidbits of news, call to huddle our
siblings, and pass the gossip down the family chain.

58 Taming The Monster Farm Vacation 59

1968. Mom directing St. Francis School Sing Out.


Good Morning America!
Child labor laws didn’t apply to farm work, so we were given the op-
portunity to earn money picking strawberries and other fruits and
vegetables as they came into season. Strawberries became ripe just
as school let out, so Mom would wake us all up at an ungodly morn-
ing hour to get us ready to start a productive work day. We would be
awoken to her cheerily singing, “Good Morning”, while she lowered
the top double hung windows in each of the bedrooms to allow the
cool fresh pre-dawn air to consume our lungs. The first year we picked
for “Fritz” Peters in Verboort and at the beginning Mom picked along
beside us. But then they complained that she brought too many young
kids along so then for awhile she stayed home with the younger ones
and just drove us to and from the patch, as well as monitoring our
daily progress by reviewing our punched tickets at each end of work
day. Joyce always seemed to skate those reviews, but for Jim and Tony
it wasn’t always so pleasant.

The next years we picked strawberries at Dierickx Farms where Mom

60 Taming The Monster Good Morning America! 61


1977. Mom working as strawberry field boss.
worked as a field boss. John commented on an experience he had hear all of the checker Mary Heesacker Flaig’s jokes, and she had a lot
picking, “After I had years of berry picking under my belt at the age of of them. And apparently the Dierickx’s recognized how well Tony car-
six or seven, Mom apparently expected me to be a little more focused ried flats that they hired him for loading berry trucks. ( Joyce clarified
on picking berries, even though it was hot that day and I didn’t have that in fact, 12 minutes per flat was actually her max. Her goal was to
the advantage of her giant umbrella hat. It is possible that I may have make $35 a day, as that would match what Dad made in the union, and
been spending too much time at the water barrel, throwing berries, she succeeded about 5 times over the years. Joyce said, “Not much, for
or just eating more than picking, but Mom wasn’t pleased with my sure, but I really did try hard!”
production that day, so she made me walk home. It was only three
miles to home in Roy, but the route was along Highway 47, which had Joyce recalled it being a challenge to pick fast when filling buckets of
speeding cars and trucks, not much room for pedestrians. Only one cucumbers at Nori Peters: She’d fill them quickly and they were quite
walk home was all it took.” heavy to constantly carry up for check in. She said that Jim pretended
to pick the first bucket until she got four done, and then spent the rest
On having your Mom as a berry boss, Jane said, “It had its pros and of the day carrying in four at a time to be checked. Joyce said, “I think
cons. It meant not being able to hang out and have fun, like many of he may have managed to pick a couple in addition. He spent a number
the kids would do. But on the other side, she would know where the of weeks being the bucket hauler and not doing much else. I know I
good berries were and so now and then I’d get preferential treatment.” gave him a cut, and in fact made 30 to 40% more when he was hauling
them in than when I didn’t have a carrier.”
During strawberry picking season, the Forest Grove Community
Swimming Pool also provided youth swimming classes, so Mom would For awhile, Joyce picked alongside our cousin, Neil Kempen (Uncle
shuttle kids to the pool for the appropriate lesson. They had various Antone’s grandson), and while both being fast pickers, they challenged
level classes starting at 10:00 and 2:00. Tony remembers pre-beginner each other in daily competition. Neil had an advantage because he was
classes were always at 10:00, which meant missing out of the peak closer to the ground, but they both managed to pick neck and neck.
berry picking time. The subsequent level class, beginner, was a 2:00 One day after a hard day of picking, they stopped at a convenience
class, so at the end of each course when the instructor gave the swim- store on the way home to get a refreshment. The person at the counter
ming test, he’d always go into the bathroom to avoid taking the test. noticed that their hands were stained red and asked what they were
Several years later as Tony continued to repeat the pre-beginner level, doing. Joyce replied, “We just came from picking strawberries”. The
the instructor told Mom that he was swimming several levels above clerk said, “Oh I admire you climbing those trees, I could never do
the rest of the students, and she should just place him in a higher level that, I’m afraid of heights.”
class. So that finally meant he had to return picking strawberries a full
day with the rest of his siblings. Mom would enjoy going over to visit her friend Marjorie Van Dyke
who lived along the Forest Grove highway in Verboort, and especially
Once Tony picked beside Joyce who could pick two rows at once and during picking season, she would delight her with a box or two of fresh
leave the rest of the picking crew in dust. The bosses all respected her picked strawberries. Marjorie would talk non-stop, but when Mom
and never checked if she left her row clean. As Joyce would spit out would sit and watch her paint landscape portraits, she had to con-
a flat every couple of minutes or so, Tony would carry the flats up for centrate at times on what she was painting, so Mom would get some
ticket punching and make more money than if he were picking full words in edgewise. Marjorie gifted her several of her paintings that
time himself. Also he was bringing in flats so frequently that he got to Mom has proudly hanging in her house. Later, Marjorie’s husband,

62 Taming The Monster Good Morning America! 63


Joe, took up painting as well, and Mom found it interesting compar-
ing the style of the two. Joe was a carpenter, so would painstakingly
paint lots of detail in the buildings and make sure everything was to
proper scale; whereas Marjorie, the flowing artist didn’t have any prob-
lem painting a sagging roofline on an older building. It was Marjorie’s
friend, Florence, or maybe cousin, from whom we got the Mercury car
that eventually replaced our rusting 1957 Chevrolet sedan.

Margaret remembers Mom driving the Mercury to and from the berry
fields, hitting the small hills just right so it felt as if we were flying,
and that was a very heavy car. Margaret recalled, “The best part was
when she drove in reverse. I think she saw Tim Dierickx drive back-
wards at a fast pace one day, and from that moment on, it seemed like
everywhere we drove she was doing it fast and in reverse as much as
possible.”

Tony recalls going with Mom in the brown Mercury to visit Jeannie
Routtu at her parent’s house in Portland. She parked the car in front
of their house and was inside chatting with Jeannie around her grand
piano. When Consuelo, Jeannie’s Mom, returned from church, she
came into the house and screamed to her son, “Reggie, I told you not
to let your friends park their junkers in front of my house...please have
them move it to the back.” Jeannie and Mom both looked out the
window and Mom turned to her and sheepishly said, “Oh, that must
be my car she is talking about.” So Jeannie went over and calmed her
mother down.

64 Taming The Monster Good Morning America! 65


1980. Jane and Mom singing (Marjorie VanDyke painting behind).
Recitation Of
The Rosary
Mom seemed to enjoy taking the kids camping. At least that was our
interpretation based on the frequency the family would be taken for
long weekends or more to the outdoors. It was always open air camp-
ing – no tents - and the youngest 3 or 4 would fill in the one double
sized sleeping bag and the remaining in individual bags. Years later,
inflatable mattresses added luxury to the experience. The sleeping
equipment, food, and change of clothes would all be tucked into the
trunk of the 1947 Plymouth sedan and anything that didn’t fit would
fill the backseat floor. The large package tray in the back window was a
coveted passenger spot so typically was not filled with baggage.

Camping trips were the one event that no one seemed to mind Mom’s
cheery morning wakeup call as everyone was keen to go despite the
early hour. Mom would post a chore list on the refrigerator so ev-

66 Taming The Monster Recitation Of The Rosary 67


1956. Joyce, Mom, and Jim at the beach.
eryone habitually passed by to see which preparation tasks they were events that momentarily questioned our faith, having dutifully recited
to complete. The older kids had previously each been assigned to a the rosary for safe travel.
younger sibling, so part of getting ready was also assisting the young
charge to be dressed, packed, and out the door at the designated time. Mom drove us out onto the sand at Cannon Beach as was the practice
at that time. She drove along the shore a bit as we enjoyed viewing the
Mom was always punctual and especially for camping trips she had no water edge from our car windows. After driving a bit, she turned the
problem getting the kids to cooperate with her to be ready to leave at car around to start heading back, but the car sunk in soft dry sand and
the designated hour to get an early start. We would all be piled into it wouldn’t back up. So all the kids got out to try to push the car, but
the car – which itself was a grand feat, arguing over window seats, it was just too heavy and wouldn’t budge, just kept spinning the rear
front versus rear, etc. And then just as Mom was ready to head down wheels, digging deeper and deeper. First we got our play sand buckets
the road with the fully loaded car, Dad would appear to check the and shovels and started carrying wet sand to put in front of the tires
oil, water, and tire pressure. By the time that was all accomplished, it for traction, but to no avail. Mom said, “Oh dear, the tide is starting
would mean everyone (though obviously not always John!) would need to come in.” So we gathered in assembly line fashion and emptied
to make another round of bathroom visits to the house that had the the trunk, piece by piece to make the car lighter. Again the kids tried
lone bathroom. to push. That didn’t work either. Someone pointed to a rusted out
car that was to the right front of us: “What happened to that car?”
Piling back into the Plymouth, after all the arguing of seat placement, they asked. Jim said, “It must have gotten stuck and the incoming
it was nearly inevitable that Joyce, the oldest, would sit at the front tide rusted it out.” That instantly changed everyone’s demeanor and we
seat passenger door. Cars didn’t have seat belts then, so the first few wondered if we would have the same fate. The tide seemed to be com-
miles of the trip we’d squirm and fuss, and rearrange to get one of the ing in now at a much faster pace. Some of us started to cry as Mom
two window seats and/or the package tray. But even before the car left tried to comfort, assuring that we’d find a solution. By now the sun
the local roads pulling onto the highway, Mom would calm us down was setting and it was getting dark.
by picking up the wooden bead rosary that was hung on the dash’s
cigarette lighter knob and handing it to someone to lead the family in Just before total hysteria set in, a Volkswagen beetle drove toward us,
prayer. She would always advise that it was for God to protect us in then stopped. Four lanky men unfolded themselves and got out of
our travels so we all reverently participated. It was also likely the most their car. We’re not sure if any words were spoken, but they clearly
relaxing portion of the driving for her while everyone was consumed noticed a family in distress and lined themselves at the four corners
with the recitation, on their best behavior, and no one begging the of the car and with a little tug, lifted the car out of the soft sand and
question, “How many minutes until we get there?” ( Joyce mentioned set it on toward safe passage. Years later when legislation was passed
that she also remembered Mom having her and Jim recite the rosary prohibiting private cars on the beach, we couldn’t fathom why so many
while going to and from Albany grade school while they were living people were against that law. For us it was better than a snuggy blan-
in Shed.) ket. Thank God we prayed the rosary for a safe trip!

And we typically had uneventfully safe travels with Mom keeping the On the way home we got another chance to unload the trunk, but this
kids occupied as best as she could playing oral car games until most time due to a flat tire. The tools and the spare were well hidden be-
of the young passengers would fall asleep. But there was one camping neath the sleeping bags, starfish, seashells, drift wood, and food coolers,
trip to the Oregon Coast during which we experienced a malady of so was unloaded in assembly fashion onto the side of the shoulder-less

68 Taming The Monster Recitation Of The Rosary 69


highway. Mom had us all get back into the car as she single handedly shoulder. We then continued the journey to home, but this time with
changed the tire, then we returned to reload the trunk. the rosary in the glove compartment. The rest of the trip was unevent-
ful, but for sure, the chatter about the incident lasted for a long while.
A while back on the highway again, Jim and Tony got quite restless
so Mom stopped the car and had them get out and start jogging in Later back at home, Dad investigated the cause of the fire and found
front of the car to run some of their nonsense off while she drove that a coin had been put inside the lighter hole which created a short,
slowly behind to keep them in pace. Later, a policeman pulled up and the sparks, and subsequently the igniting of the rosary. With a lot of
stopped and talked to Mom, giving Jim and Tony a break from their effort, the coin was finally removed from the hole. Behind the scene,
jogging. They stared back at the officer who was talking to Mom and there were a couple of nervous boys, Jim and Tony, who a week before,
started imaging reasons why she was being detained. Their consensus while playing in the car, had figured out which denomination of coin
was that it was because she was abusing her children, forcing them to would best fit in the lighter. Of course it was a coin that they found
run in front of the car. Then in a little while, the officer walked up to under the seat as they wouldn’t spend their hard earned allowance
the front of the car and started talking to them. They explained that nickel on such mischief.
they were being forced to run in front of the car and for sure, it was a
dangerous and abusive situation, that for sure he should arrest her. The
officer replied to them, “I have two boys who get restless during trips,
and I think this is a great idea. I’m going to drive behind her to be Jane recalled, “I always enjoyed flip-
sure her car is safe and I want you guys to run as fast as you can.” So
the officer trailed Mom for another half mile or so with his police car
ping pancakes on the campfire grill
lights flashing – sure much farther than Mom would have originally as it didn’t matter if I missed the fry-
made the boys run – then after they loaded back into the car, the of-
ficer congratulated Mom and went on his way. With everyone in the ing pan.”
car, Mom continued on the journey toward home, and at least on this
portion of the trip a more peaceful drive for her, having two less bois-
terous boys in the auto. One year we went on an international trip where we headed to Canada
to take advantage of a long 4th of July holiday. We walked across a
Further down the road the tranquility was broken when Joyce let out rope suspension bridge, saw a totem pole, and ate an ice cream bar –
a shriek, opened the passenger door to flee, dangling from the open because our milk truck driver gave us money for that! But then we
door as the car was zooming down the highway. Sparks were flying couldn’t find any vacancy in affordable hotels because, who knew they
from the rosary that was hanging on the cigarette lighter and the beads celebrate Canadian Day holiday on July 1st. So we rolled back across
caught on fire. With all of the commotion, Mom brought the car to a the border to the US and found a motel where we dined in style on
safe stop. The back seat door locks had been removed in lieu of mod- some concoction, for sure whipped up in Mom’s electric frying pan,
ern day ‘child safety locks’, so the kids in the rear crawled out the win- that was packed along - just in case!
dows and lined up by the side of the road and counted off. They had
been previously well coached by Joyce on how to conduct a Catholic Cooking and eating while camping was always a delight. First of all,
School fire drill. Meanwhile, Mom lifted the rosary from the dash and cooking was always done on campfire: the portable Coleman gas or
put the fire out, then calmed the nerves of all the kids standing at the propane stoves never appeared on outings until way after the kids were

70 Taming The Monster Recitation Of The Rosary 71


grown. So that meant the meal preparation included going out and
finding twigs for starter and combing the surrounding forest for sub-
stantive limbs or logs for the cooking fire, and significant extra for
the evening campfire singing. Once the fire would be started, food
preparation got underway with lots of ‘helpers’ being assigned tasks
in this process. Given there were no plug-ins for electric frying pans,
the meals were adapted for cooking camp style. Mom always brought
along one or more heavy cast iron skillets for cooking and a tea kettle
that heated water for dish washing. Jane recalled, “I always enjoyed
flipping pancakes on the campfire grill as it didn’t matter if I missed
the frying pan.”

When we camped with extended family, aunts, uncles and their fami-
lies, the menu expanded a bit. Once while camping at Eagle Creek,
Aunt Bonnie prepared her heirloom Italian spaghetti sauce, and was
awaiting the timer to pull the spaghetti noodles from the fire to serve
them ‘al dente’. The campfire apparently produced more heat than her
stove top, overcooking the noodles a bit, leaving her traumatized to
serve the special sauce over wimpy pasta. The rest of us thought it was
1985. Mom camping with the Attias and Wadleighs delicious and fought for the left over helpings. And Jane remembers
it was a different experience to have Uncle Phil or Aunt Peggy along
with us camping. She said, “Uncle Phil always brought along his com-
plete camping food set – several cans of Pork and Beans, which he
especially enjoyed in the open air (then later provided percussion for
the campfire singing). On the other hand, Aunt Peggy’s camping food
was a bit more elaborate like stuffed grape leaves and tahini sauce.”

And another thing about camping with Aunt Peggy, is that she was
a great instigator. One time just an hour or so before the designated
family departure time, Aunt Peggy mentioned that she found a great
deal at an outdoor store chain for an inflatable canoe. Word traveled
faster than a prayer chain, and several of the parties swung by the stores
scooping up the last of the close-out bargains on the way to the camp
site. It was a great find as the locale had the perfect lake for using the
water craft and lots of kids enjoyed taking turns paddling, splashing,
and occasionally falling into the pristine water. Another activity that
Aunt Peggy instigated was the famous salamander races.

72 Taming The Monster Recitation Of The Rosary 73


1996. Mom rafting with Ken, Erin and Kimberly.
In addition to camping, Mom also took the kids on a lot of hikes. Fa-
vorites were those that ended at a waterfall or hidden lake, and there
were a lot of those types of trails in the Pacific Northwest. In the early
years, Mom was either pregnant or toting a baby, so Tony, who always
wanted to rush to get to the end of the trail, would get impatient when
Mom would stop to rest or to just enjoy the scenery. Mom would
ask him if he found the hidden lake yet, and Tony would say, “No!”,
so Mom told him to run further up the trail to see if he could find it.
Tony did this over and over again, but many times the trail didn’t actu-
ally have a hidden lake, just a look out. But Tony never got wise to it
and Mom was able to take the trail at her own pace.

Some years after the kids were beyond toddler stage, Mom took up
backpacking and did several hike-in camping trips. We wonder if she
felt more steady while pregnant or packing a kid while hiking all those
years, so strapping on a heavy backpack put her at ease. In 1998, Mom
backpacked up to Marion Lake with Aunt Jean and Aunt Peggy. And
twenty years later, in 2008, she backpacked up to Hallerangeralm,
Austria in the rain. However, after all her careful packing for the hike,
2008. Mom backpacking with family up to Hallerangeralm, Austria she forgot one little detail, she failed to bring along some Tirolean
Folk Song sheet music so she could entertain the family on the ac-
cordion she found up at the lodge. But as wet as everyone got going
up the hill, maybe the sheet music might not have survived in the end.

In the middle of summers, we got to participate in Camp Howard and


4-H Camps – usually one or the other. Camp Howard, a Catholic
Youth Organization, was a Sunday through Friday camp located in the
middle of a large Douglas Fir forest with quite an elaborate infrastruc-
ture, paid counselors, and lots of program activities including archery,
arts & crafts, hiking, and nature exploration. The 4-H camp was typi-
cally 3 to 4 days in more rustic environments, volunteer counselors,
and variable programs. At 4-H Camp we typically did a lot of singing,
tunes from the 4-H Song Book that we all knew very well, many of
them by heart, because Mom typically included singing at each of her
4-H meetings.

Tony remembers at one 4-H summer camp he was so excited because

74 Taming The Monster Recitation Of The Rosary 75

2008. Mom playing accordian in Hallerangeralm, Austria


he was sent with a brand new sleeping bag, no longer having to use
the tattered hand-me-down. They were staying in a lean to shelter
in bunks and it started to rain and the temperature dropped consider-
ably. The counselor came up with a bright idea to use the campfire in
front of the shelter to heat up stones to put inside the sleeping bags.
The stone warmed up the bag at first, then started to smoke and Tony
asked the counselor if that was normal. He zipped the bag open and
found that the stone had burned a hole through the material, which
was a newer synthetic, rather than flannel that was used in the older
bags.

One summer when Uncle Farag, Aunt Peggy, Sharif, and Sandy were
visiting from Kuwait, we took them hiking through the rain forest at
Silver Creek Falls State Park near Sublimity, Oregon, then had a pic-
nic after the hike. Every time that we would approach one of the 10 or
so waterfalls along the hike, young Sharif who had spent the previous
nine months in dry hot Kuwait, would circle his nose in the air saying,
“Look Mommie, look Mommie, feel the freshness.” Sandy would then
copy Sharif, circling her head around saying, “Awe...freshness!”

76 Taming The Monster Recitation Of The Rosary 77


1986. Mom camping at Spruce Run Park.
2000. Mom camping with grandkids (and granddog). 2008. Mike and Mom hiking in Austria.

78 Taming The Monster Recitation Of The Rosary 79


2004. Mike and Mom camping at Waldo Lake. 2008. Mom with family at Hallerangeralm, Austria
No Pets In
The House
Growing up we were never allowed to have pets in the house, but that
rule didn’t apply to farm animals, especially runts, which Mom took
delight in nursing back to health. It wasn’t uncommon to find a box
with chicks, ducks, or goslings in front of the oil burning stove in the
front room. She would use an eye dropper or a small cup to rehy-
drate a sick one every few minutes or so, and find ways to get them to
eat. Some of these “successes” would later turn out to be bothersome
around the place after they patterned a human as their parent. Like
from a page of Dr. Seuss, Are You My Mother, we would have geese
trailing us around constantly pulling our shoe strings. At least all the
Evers’ kids learned to re-tie their shoes at an early age! Or the chicks
would follow the gosling into a bath tub we had installed in our land-
scape for a fish pool, then erratically try to figure out why they couldn’t
do what the leader was doing.

80 Taming The Monster No Pets In The House 81


1976. Mom in Adult Showmanship Contest at Washington County Fair.
One day Tony rescued a runt pig from Uncle Gene’s that wasn’t doing tissue paper dress sewing patterns that she had accumulated over the
very well and presented it to Mom in a small cardboard box. It too was years and used for family sewing as well as for 4-H Sewing Clubs. She
put in the hospital quarter in front of the oil stove. At first it didn’t found the patterns were shredded to bits and in about a weeks’ time
seem like it was going to make it, but Mom worked her magic, giv- that is where the cat began to give birth. As it turned out, the Siamese
ing it drops of milk, then later mixing concoctions in the blender and wasn’t a very good mother despite her nesting ability...or just a lazy
it started to come to life. Once while she was nursing the pig with a one...as she plopped the newborns at Mom’s feet for her to clean and
bottle, someone attended a call from her friend, Pat Dierickx, a proper nurse to health. After that, the ‘no pet in house’ rule was relaxed and
lady and an immaculate house keeper, who asked if Mom was home. we even had a 3-legged dog that John called Tripod inside for a while,
“Mom is feeding the pig right now, would you like to talk to her?” Pat that is when he wasn’t out having it tow him on his bicycle all over Roy.
Dierickx replied, “Oh she’s outside, don’t bother, I can call her back.”
And the kid replied, “Oh no, she’s got the pig right here in the living Also Margaret wasn’t very keen on joining a 4-H livestock club, so
room.” It was later put outside and for months after, it acted more like Mom thought she might be enticed to participate in a dog club. Mom
a puppy dog than a pig. brought home an old not so cute dog and waited for Margaret to fall in
love with it. The dog spent his days and nights laying by the oil stove
At the upcoming Washington County Fair, Mom entered an alumni and the only thing he was famous for was belching or farting. Marga-
‘round robin’ showmanship contest with her little pig. The contest ret wouldn’t go near him and when Mom loaded the dog and her into
was supposed to be a fun event, but some of the contestants (Marilyn the car and hauled them to the first 4-H dog meeting, Mrs. Lewis, the
Peters in particular) were out for blood and were aghast that Mom had 4-H leader took the side of the daughter and said, “poor thing, she will
appeared with a tiny pig and was calling out commands, ‘stay piggy’, never be able to do well with this sad dog, the judges will always give
‘sit piggy’, ‘come piggy’, to the delight of the audience, rather than her a white (ribbon) regardless of how hard she works it. So Mom was
using the traditional cane to control it. Mom didn’t win the contest, finally convinced to trade in the farter and bought an expensive very
given the judge was ‘old school’, but she definitely won the hearts of cute little Collie dog for Margaret.
thousands of amassed onlookers who stood spellbound at the show
woman with the obedient tiny pig.

Then one day the ice was broken. A ‘non-farm animal’ appeared in
the house. A 4-H member had given Mom a pregnant Siamese cat.
Maybe the intention was that the cat would be a mouse hunter out-
side the house, but this brown eared beauty would have nothing of
that. She was a master at following anyone to the house and slipping
through the door just as it was closing. The cat bonded with Mom,
even though there were plenty of kids who gave it a lot of attention.
As the Siamese advanced in pregnancy, it started to disappear some-
where in the house for hours at a time and no one knew where it was.

Eventually while Mom was doing a thorough cleaning under her bed,
she solved the mystery. Mom had several boxes filled with 100’s of

82 Taming The Monster No Pets In The House 83


Nickel Allowance
For a number of years Mom did bookkeeping for Uncle Gene while
he ran a cabinet making business and lived with his first wife, Dolores,
in North Plains. Every week or so she would take the kids along and
let them loose to explore and play in their fascinating antique 3 story
home while she went out to the shop to chat with Uncle Gene for a
few minutes about his business, gathered receipts and invoices, then
put them in a take-home folder as homework. Then with the pretense
of working on the books, she spent the rest of the day in their house
doing a complimentary top to bottom cleaning. It was always in a
pretty bad state. For example, Mom would see a soiled diaper on the
floor with kids stepping on it and tracking it around and go to clean it
up, when Aunt Dolores, almost breathless, would say, “Oh Mary, just
leave it, I was about to go clean it up.” Then Dolores would fall asleep
wherever she was standing or sitting, and Mom would transform into
a bionic cleaning woman. (It was believed that Dolores had a narco-
leptic condition.) By the end of the afternoon, the house was spot-
less, mounds of dirty clothes washed, dried, folded and organized, and

84 Taming The Monster Nickel Allowance 85


1959. Mom with family at Christmas.
Mom drove us back home where she worked on Uncle Gene’s books the floors they had conveniently located shopping bags to fill up with
after hours. planned purchases. At the start of the shopping excursion, all the
youngsters would follow Mom around the store as she did her “pre-
Even when we did a hostile move out from the EverMay farmhouse shopping”. But then when she was ready to finalize a selection, and if
after Grandpa had sold the place to Uncle Gene (rather than to Dad the intended recipient was too much under her nose, she would send
as he had promised him for years), Mom went back into the house them off to do something else. Usually that meant riding up and down
after the furniture was gone and did a thorough cleaning to give Uncle the store’s elevator and pestering the attendant. And once that became
Gene and family a ‘fresh start’ in their new home. tiring, they had some booths around the store with people giving dem-
onstrations on gadgets that could slice and dice or make perfect bows
With Mom’s background in accounting, she tried to instill in her kids that held our interest for a while. And in mimicking Mom, taking a
financial accountability at an early age. An allowance was established shopping bag after exiting the floor elevator, the demonstrated gadgets
for the older ones, five cents per week, but that depended on success- seemed interesting enough to pop into the bag. Furthermore walking
ful completion of designated tasks, which included finishing the daily through the toy department, Jim and Tony, in particular, found a lot
house chore assignments posted on the refrigerator as well as main- of interesting things to fill their bags. While Mom passed through
taining one’s bed made and personal clothes dresser drawers tidy. The the floor’s cashier before riding down or up to the next floor, the boys
first clue that one wouldn’t be receiving the weekly allowance was re- passed freely from shopping to elevator, and ultimately following Mom
turning to their bedroom to find the contents of one or more drawers out to the parking garage with plumb bags in hands and accumulated
dumped onto the floor. And just for the coveted weekly nickel, it allowance nickels and single dollar bills in their pockets.
turned into a contest for the boys as Ken set the bar quite high. He
was heralded as the one to beat as he masterfully organized all of his On Christmas morning during gift exchange, at a time when the fam-
clothing, even pasted together popsicle sticks to divide his drawers to ily was under financial hardship, Mom couldn’t help but notice that
separate different types of socks, underwear, tee shirts, etc., as well as a couple of her sons had each accumulated quite a pile of gifts that
adding labels. couldn’t have been bought with their allowance budget. So immedi-
ately after Christmas, Mom provided them a life lesson, having them
But Tony laments one time losing out on several weekly nickel al- go back to the store and apologize for taking things without paying for
lowances due to a bed inspection. He had thought that since Mom them. Tony commented that he was eternally grateful for that trans-
had passed the responsibility onto the kids for bed making, and as formative persuasion that Mom timely provided, and furthermore, he
long as the bed was tidy and had perfectly squared hospital corners, mastered Christmas bow tying without relying on a gadget.
there would be no risk in her checking between the mattress and box
springs. It was just there where he had hidden a bag of mint chocolate Tony remembers Mom wasn’t very good at hiding Christmas gifts,
chips for night time snacking that he had pilfered from the downstairs that he was able to find them and figure out what everyone was get-
cupboard, and for some reason she had discovered his hiding place. ting. Though she was tricky in that she used her own code written
on the outside of the wrapped packages indicating whom they were
In addition to the nickel weekly allowance, at Christmas time, a dollar for, and would only put a tag on them when setting them around the
bonus was given so gifts could be purchased. And for that, an eagerly tree. So of course, that meant he would have to open each one up and
awaited December shopping trip was made to Meier and Frank De- then carefully rewrap them. One year she hid them in high cupboards
partment store in downtown Portland. Exiting the elevator on any of in the back office room at the EverMay Farm house. In absence of

86 Taming The Monster Nickel Allowance 87


a stepladder, Tony had to maneuver to be able to access where they lar bonus allowance. You couldn’t even find anything then at the ‘Five
were hidden. He was too short to just use a chair, but somehow he and Dime’ store in Forest Grove for under twenty five cents; they just
got into the first cabinet then opened the next one’s door and pull him held on to the store name to be clever. And clever we were: The fam-
around until he finally got to the large wrap-around corner cabinet ily started to enjoy gift giving with a sense of humor combined with
where he found the jackpot. He wedged himself into the cabinet and thriftiness. Jane recalls one year that high on Margaret’s wish list was
proceeded to unwrap, then re-wrap all the gifts. But it turned out the a ‘clutch purse’, which was quite the mode at the time. No one had any
joke was on him that Christmas. He placed several wish lists notes clutch parts laying around; however Mom had recently had a brake job
around the house pre-Christmas indicating he wanted a tape recorder. on the car, so sewed together a drawstring bag, inserted the parts, and
And while he was opening the packages, he got to one that after the wrapped it up as a ‘Brake Purse’.
wrap was removed, a tape recorder box was revealed. He stopped at
that, wrapped it back up, and shimmied down the cabinets. He was We got carried away with our humor with lots of other gifts as well.
satisfied that he would get his dream gift. At Christmas time, to his One year, Susanne wanted a ‘stick pin’. A diaper pin (likely one of hers
surprise, the box didn’t have a tape recorder; instead it had a vintage given she was last in the family to wear them) was taped to a tree twig
baseball mitt. It was Uncle Phil’s, one that Mom got while clearing to construct that gift. Susanne wasn’t so amused but she did wear it
out Grandma Miller’s house. Tony didn’t appreciate it very much, first later during Christmas day! She later remarked, “Yeah, stick pins were
because it wasn’t a recorder, and second, because it was old. However very cool that year – until Christmas that is!” Another gift, a clipped
at ball practice back at grade school, all of his classmates begged him off phone cord was gifted and heralded as the phone-less cord. (Mind
to borrow it because it was a really good one. you this was during the AT&T breakup, when dial phones were slowly
being upgraded – against AT&T’s will – to push button, and some-
In those years, everyone would make a Christmas wish list and typi- time thereafter we no longer shared a ‘party line’ with the neighbors,
cally post it on the side of the refrigerator. We’d of course include all this before cellphones came into existence.) When cousin Zane
things that our siblings could possibly afford to get for us, but the showed up on Christmas day, a house broom was quickly wrapped
headliners were always the more expensive items that we wished and to gift as a Led Zeppelin air guitar. He surprised everyone by quickly
hoped that Mom would cave and buy for us. In the mail we received picking it up and jamming on it. To this day he still jabbers about that
annual Montgomery Ward and Sears and Roebuck Christmas cat- great present!
alogues, that were about two inches thick, and we fought over and
drooled upon them while putting together wish lists, given that we Tony gifted Mom an automatic in-door plant watering apparatus that
didn’t watch television those days so we weren’t inundated with other he concocted using a lot of laying around spare parts. Mom managed
forms of advertising. And some of the kids would try to anticipate to maintain a dozen or so potted African Violets on shelves she in-
where in the house and what activity Mom would be doing next, and stalled across the dining room window; but other potted plants in the
leave the catalog open to the page of their coveted gift. They were rov- house didn’t fare so well, usually slow death by lack of water. Aside
ing catalogues, and would appear open to a specific page on top of the from the Violet’s, Mom was more of an outside plant person.
washing machine, the counter next to the cook stove, or on the dining
room table at her place setting. One year when Joyce and Mike came for Christmas from Ohio, she
received a mini Whitman Sampler box of Chocolate. She was preg-
As the family grew in size, coupled with inflation, it became increas- nant with Maria then and didn’t want to eat so much chocolate and
ingly difficult to buy something for everyone with the end of year dol- sweets. To her surprise, the 2” x 2” sealed box contained four pieces

88 Taming The Monster Nickel Allowance 89


of half-eaten chocolate bonbons. (Tony mastered the opening and
resealing of the gift box plastic wrap using Mom’s iron). The back-
ground was that Joyce was typically the one who passed around Dad’s
annual Carnation Company Christmas double decker box of choco-
late confections. Mom only allowed one piece per person and Joyce
closely supervised that. But what the other kids didn’t realize until the
divider between the two identical layers was lifted, is that she took
small sample bites out of a bunch of them, trying to figure out which
in the top layer she would choose for her once a day chocolate limit,
leaving the half-bitten bites hidden in the second layer for the rest of
the family. In later years for Christmas humor, the kids rewrote all the
standard Christmas songs in a personalized fashion to sing to Mom.
One of the songs even included her llama, Tino, squishing the sheep.
Jane thinks the song might have been called, “Tino, The Red Nose
Llama”.

Mom took something of a crocheting or specialty stitching class and


made a cute panda bear Christmas gift for Susanne. We are sure it was
never meant to be a gag gift, but he was unique with his slightly lop-
sided head. Susanne adored it. Mom also made a quilted Noah’s Ark
wall hanging for Susanne that employed a lot of specialty stitching.
And she also made a quilt for herself that displayed all of the distinct
stitching panels that she learned through the continuing education
television course.

90 Taming The Monster Nickel Allowance 91


1979. Mom doing needlework.
Tinsel or Flocked
We always looked forward to Christmas, especially setting up the
Christmas tree. Living within walking distance of our Catholic grade
school meant that we were often able to return home dragging one or
more classroom Christmas trees when school was let out for season
break. But before any tree or Christmas decoration could go up, Mom
always insisted on a thorough house cleaning. That was pretty clever
as she always got 150% participation as the family anxiously awaited
putting up the tree.

Tony remembered one of Grandma Miller’s last trees that was snow
covered, so he always wanted to have the central house tree flocked;
but Joyce thought it was more elegant when tinseled, and had abun-
dant patience to separate and lay an individual strand of real vintage
metallic tinsel between every needle of every branch from bottom to
top of the tree. (Added to that, when “real” tinsel was discontinued in
favor of plastic stuff, at end of season, she removed every strand and
guarded it for a subsequent year’s tree.) Given the family discord be-

92 Taming The Monster Tinsel or Flocked 93


1976. Mom with silver tea set Christmas gift.
tween style of Christmas tree, Mom, the peace maker, had to establish see that it was the hype gift of the year). Aunt Peggy grabbed it and
that we would alternate tinsel or flocked every other year. It was a bit told him, “Here, I’ll show you what you can do with it”, and proceeded
ironic in the flocked years to do such a thorough house dusting before to rapidly use both hands on the dials and in a matter of seconds, came
setting up the tree, as the vacuum reverse blower that was used to flock up with a pretty neat drawing.
the tree sprayed more sediment on the surroundings and furniture
than what was there before the cleaning. One Thanksgiving while we were living at EverMay Farms, Aunt
Peggy also gifted us with a lifetime of chuckles. We had Grandma
Besides all the Christmas decorations in a clean house, the other thing Evers’ dining room table that accordioned in or expanded out to ac-
we looked forward to was that Christmas with Mom was overflowing commodate a lot of table leaves to host a huge family, and at each end
with music. She would take out her collection of LP’s that we loved to was a hinged drop leaf with a funky elbow apparatus. If you pressed
play over and over, Christmas with Burl Ives, Bob Hope Christmas, the elbow up, like crossing your legs at the table, the leaf would fall
and Lawrence Welk Christmas. We played those records so much that down. Those days, Mom usually prepared her favorite, jellied cran-
we started to believe that the scratching sounds on the records were berry, which you could cut with a knife, but this Thanksgiving, she also
original rhythmic syncopation. Fortunately later, Aunt Peggy gifted cooked whole cranberries. Maybe it was because her sister was visit-
us Jose Feliciano’s Christmas record, ‘Feliz Navidad’, and that became ing. Sitting at the end of the table, Aunt Peggy had served herself a
everyone’s favorite album. pretty full plate as one does at Thanksgiving dinner, then topped it off
with a good size helping of one of the last things to make the rounds,
We also remember another gift from Aunt Peggy, probably when clean- the whole cranberries. At some point after that, she crossed her legs
ing out her apartment before she headed to Egypt to get married, she under the table, bumping the elbow contraption, which caused the
gave Mom a big stack of records. Jane recalls a song we sang frequently, leaf to fall. Her food-filled ‘Blue Willow’ plate slid off the leaf to the
500 Miles, came from that stack, likely The Kingston Trio Album, and floor, surprisingly didn’t break, but the cranberry bowl must have been
once we figured out how far away Egypt was, we wondered if the song perfectly positioned because it literally flew to the side of her and hit
should have been called Thousands of Miles. But the real hit in that the huge chalkboard that covered the dining room wall between the
whole stack was The New Christy Minstrels album. That had so many bathroom door and wall cabinets. It hit the board about midway and
fun songs that we still sing some of them at get togethers and camping slid so that there was a huge smear of cranberries all the way down.
outings. The favorites included: The Cat Came Back, The Treasury of (We remember that big chalkboard, our ‘babysitter’, and how many
Nonsense Medley: The Barefoot Boy/Billy’s Mule, Song of the Pious hours we spent on it, all the kids of various sizes using different spots
Itinerant (Hallelujah I’m a Bum), The Cat, Susianna (everyone except and heights to draw, play hangman, do math problems, write “notes”
Susy liked this one) and Mom’s number one, The Old Timer, that she and so forth.)
dressed the part and performed on a number of occasions.
One year (probably 1964) Mom was taking German language classes
Speaking of gifts from Aunt Peggy, when Mom took us to visit so we got to learn the ‘Oh Christmas Tree’ song in German, ‘O Tan-
Grandma Miller for Christmas, Aunt Peggy was charged with pick- nenbaum’. The lead up to it was entertaining in that she put labels on a
ing out and wrapping the presents for us kids. Apparently she spent a lot of the common things we used in the house and at the dinner table,
lot of time playing with them before finally wrapping so she became a and had us requests things in the foreign language. We never quite
master at them. Tony remembers unwrapping an ‘Etch-a-Sketch’ and understood why in the O Tannenbaum, they repeated the phrase about
didn’t know what it was (of course he wasn’t able to watch television to ‘rejoicing in Dinah’s bladder’ (Wie treu sind deine Blatter).

94 Taming The Monster Tinsel or Flocked 95


Mom started teaching us to sing at such an early age, we didn’t al- later substituted blackberries for the blueberries.
ways understand the words that we were singing. For years, Joyce had
the younger ones convinced that Silent Night ended with ‘...sleep in Christmas also meant musical activities outside the home. At least
hamburger peas’. And if it weren’t for Jim’s disdain for eating cooked one night during the Christmas season she would invite others over
peas, we never would have looked up the real words of the song. Mom and we’d go caroling in the neighborhood. The first year we got a
would direct us in a musical production, teaching us new songs that somewhat chilly reception from neighbors, lots of people turning off
we would perform for our teachers that she would invite for the eve- their lights while we were standing out singing, we guessed trying to
ning. That part of it we would sometimes regret the next morning at pretend they weren’t home. Maybe they thought we were going to
school, when the nuns would rant and rave about the Evers’ family beg for something. But the second and subsequent years, everyone
performance. Poor Mom, she made the mistake once of having three opened the doors and came out and enjoyed the sharing of the Christ-
of the boys act out and sing, “We Three Kings”, and thereafter they got mas spirit. And we did get invited in for hot chocolate and cookies,
carried away changing the words and sang it over and over and over. given candy canes, etc., at some of the houses we sang at, which made
it easier for Mom to get us motivated to do it the next year. It was
particularly touching to sing for some of the elderly in our small com-
munity. Our village, Roy, was recently known for elaborate Christmas
Besides all the sweet things we had lighting displays, but we wonder if anyone has carried on the joyous
in our environment at holiday, we Christmas caroling tradition that Mom started.

never attained the luxury of Aunt Christmas was a busy time, especially Christmas eve. A lot of the
activity centered around getting ready for late night mass. The boys
Elsie’s house where, whichever way were in charge of cleaning and shining all of the shoes. So the little
elves scrubbed and rubbed and spit and buffed, returning the footwear
you moved or turned, there was al- to their original luster. They also would wear bow ties, a once a year
ways a crystal bowl filled with hard occurrence, so spent time practicing getting them hooked on and get-
ting comfortable with the feel of a buttoned up neck collar. Mom
candy. would often be putting the final touches on one of the girl’s dresses
that she sewed or making alterations on a purchased one. Some of the
kids would be sent to take naps so they could endure the full evening.
Getting out the door at the designated hour was well orchestrated. It
The St. Francis Church Altar Society put on an annual Christmas
was a single file march of the annual best dressed Evers’ clan, down
Holiday Bazaar and Mom encouraged the kids to make home-made
the lane and a quarter mile hike to St. Francis Church. Can anyone
crafts to contribute to the annual fund raiser. Jane recalls the family
remember being splashed by a car passing through mud puddles while
making decorative flowers out of yarn or straw in various colors and
we were on the walk to church? It never happened because we always
styles to contribute to this event. No one remembers if our handiworks
got there plenty early. We arrived while the choir was practicing, got
sold or not, because the important take-away from this charity occa-
to hear the full hour of Christmas carols, and then listen to the full
sion was that Mom tasted and brought home a recipe for ‘Blueberry
High Mass. (No wonder Dad sat in the back as his snuff didn’t hold
Special’, a multi-layered desert of graham crackers, whipped cream,
out for so many hours.)
and blueberry sauce, that became an all-time family favorite, albeit

96 Taming The Monster Tinsel or Flocked 97


While we never had visions of sugar-plums dancing in our heads for
this, our grandest annual feast, we did have quite a sweet and nutty
Christmas. Only at this time of year was set out a heavy wooden bas-
ket of nuts and nutcrackers. The ‘Negro’ Toes, as they were called then,
now Brazilian nuts, were always a favorite within the assortment, but
very hard to crack. In before-Christmas preparations, we were typi-
cally roped into carefully cracking some walnuts to produce multiple
dozens of perfectly butterflied half sections. These would be used for
the coveted Christmas sugar coated stuffed dried dates with walnuts.
A couple of cake pans of filbert roca candy were a hit as well. Someone
must have had a chocolate craving also because the Christmas season
carried several versions of fudge. Of course to please a large family, the
basics were nut and non-nut fudges. On Christmas morning, a pastry
bread tree just happened. Besides all the sweet things we had in our
environment around the holiday, we never attained the luxury of Aunt
Elsie’s house where, whichever way you moved or turned, there was
always a crystal bowl filled with hard candy (With exception of their
basement where Uncle Roy’s girly magazines were stashed; apparently
the informative articles kept him awake while he was a security guard
at Rocky Butte Jail. Jim and Tony had to fill their pockets from the
upstairs candy bowls before heading down to explore his literature.)

98 Taming The Monster Tinsel or Flocked 99


1973. Mom with new chair.
Donuts And
Folk Music
Mom was always heavily involved from Advent through Christmas
participating in or directing music for the Catholic Church liturgy.
She organized and led a first guitar folk Christmas eve mass in Ver-
boort with Marjorie VanDyke’s grandson David White playing lead
guitar. At Roy, she also led and organized the first (and only to date)
folk group in that parish for evening liturgy, and returned to play or-
gan for early morning mass, then typically directed the choir for 10:30
mass.

The liturgical music at Roy changed remarkably when Mom started


directing. Previously it was customary to do the same songs every
Sunday and at a snail’s pace. They were the ones that Irene Moore, the
‘owner of the choir loft’, had the alto part down on, and because the
congregation just muttered, you mostly heard alto. Then with Mom

100 Taming The Monster Donuts And Folk Music 101

1967. Mom learning to play the guitar.


involved, she introduced some new and lively songs as well as selected share the altar with anyone, so sent the musicians back up the stairs
hymns to fit the readings. Sometimes she would sneak in pieces from to the choir loft. That greatly dampened the liturgical experience and
her black Protestant hymnal. One time she had the choir do a four- the group disbanded. The same priest also discontinued the use of Ex-
part that had a cello accompaniment. All of this was from the choir traordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. Mom continued involve-
loft at the back of the church. ment with the music for the 8:00 am Sunday masses but generally
drove the family to Saint Ignatius Church in Portland for noon mass
New real estate was obtained following a change of pastor, Father where we all joyfully participated in an uplifting service.
‘Chester’. Mom broke ground placing the folk group at the front of
the church, to the side of the altar, the first in the history of the Roy At St. Ignatius church, the folk group was led by Jeannie Routtu, Port-
church to have musicians up front. Mom learned to play the guitar land soprano, who set a high bar for contemporary church music. They
but often would lead the singing. Later she took up the electric base. had about a dozen musicians including two double bassists, always
Joyce learned to play the guitar and participated in the initial band. filled the church to standing room only capacity, and everyone in the
It took the conservative congregation awhile to warm up to the new church gleefully sang, and sometimes even clapped with the music.
concept, but they did come along eventually. The folk group played Father McHugh was pastor at the time and the two worked closely
on Saturday night which mass had been a hit for those wanting to together to create wonderful liturgical experiences. Mom even sang
quickly fulfill their obligation before going out and partying all night. lead when Jeannie couldn’t make it. One time Mom took Aunt Peggy
But with time that changed, more people would come early knowing along with us to enjoy the mass. Around that time, Mom took voice
that new songs would be introduced before the service, and actually lessons from Harriet Cox, a Wagnerian opera vocalist, who always
staying until the completion of the service as well as singing the last came to the house dressed and made-up as if she were to walk out on
verses of the recessional hymn rather than sneaking out the door right stage.
after Communion.
Another great thing about Mom taking the family to Saint Ignatius
Later in his tenure at St. Francis, Father ‘Chester’ implemented Ex- was that they served raised donuts, maple bars, coffee, and juice right
traordinary ministers of Holy Communion. At first he introduced the after the mass. They weren’t the day-old like some churches serve,
concept anointing a male former seminarian to serve the role which no they were nice and fresh. We didn’t eat donuts very often, maybe
seemed to be well received by the community. Then the priest took about every six months or so when Mom would beat out a batch and
a bolder step and named Mom and our cousin, Sister Anna Evers, the whole family would help in donut cutting, deep frying, and glaz-
to serve in this ministry role. Having women distributing commu- ing. But getting to eat them every Sunday was a real treat. The kids
nion, caused some consternation in the church. Mom and Sister Anna were always torn between staying in church after Mass when often the
were announced to begin in this duty starting with the next 10:30 group would sing an extra song or two, or rushing to the hall to get
Sunday mass. A group of more conservative parishioners organized front in line for the donuts. That way there was always time to make a
a walk-out protest for that Sunday during Communion. Being good couple more passes through the line to get seconds and thirds.
Catholics, they attended Saturday night mass in order to fulfill their
“obligation” and be “free of sin” to walk out during Communion at the Father McHugh was reassigned to a church in Seattle, Washington,
10:30 morning mass. and later Jeannie Routtu left the folk group to tour with the Fred War-
ing Singers. (Later Jeannie returned to the Portland area and directed
When a new, but very old priest, took over in Roy, he didn’t care to the Beaverton Catholic Church choir and gave private piano lessons

102 Taming The Monster Donuts And Folk Music 103


on Mom’s piano while she was living in Beaverton). Mom continued
going to St. Ignatius Church but with less enthusiasm for the music
liturgy as it lost its energy. Soon Mom replaced the folk group thing
with a new found love, the community theater.

104 Taming The Monster Donuts And Folk Music 105

1973. Mom as chorus member in The Music Man.


Break A Leg
What started out by enrolling in an adult education writing class, the
professor, Bob Klenke, turned out to also be a thespian, and invited
Mom to one of his works at the Theatre In The Grove in Forest Grove.
One thing led to another and soon Mom had a number of acquain-
tances in the theater who encouraged her to audition for a musical
production. In 1973, Mom premiered as a chorus member in the For-
est Grove theater production of The Music Man. She continued on
with acting and gained roles in Camelot, Fiddler On The Roof, Any-
thing Goes, and Brigadoon, among others. In addition to acting and
singing, she also did regular volunteer stints for many theater events.

For instance, in 1976, Mom volunteered as the set coordinator for the
Theatre In The Grove’s Mr. Roberts production. She roped Ken to help
with the set and he became the official goat wrangler. According to
Ken, his duty was to round up the goat and keep it in the green room.

Mom sang for several years with the Forest Grove Mormon Church

106 Taming The Monster Break A Leg 107


1973. Mom practicing for The Music Man.
sponsored Handel’s Messiah. She had learned of this production from
Dr. Walter Richardson, the lead character in the Forest Grove Theatre
production of Camelot in which she had a chorus role. For a number
of years she also took a kid or two along with her, who also practiced
and sang in the performance.

During Mom’s involvement in each theater production, the whole


family engaged in learning the show. We got the musical scores and
learned to play and sing all of the songs. At times one or more kids
would accompany her to rehearsals and get to know the lead actors
and some scenes, then come home and sing and act them for every-
one’s enjoyment. (Margaret in particular was infatuated with the char-
acter Fiona in Brigadoon and constantly sang ‘Dinna ya know Tommy,
that yer all I’m living for’, a favorite line from the song “From This Day
On”. which was sung in the play to the Tommy character (played by
Kurt Misar). (Margaret added that it was with a heavy sigh and bat-
1972. Aunt Jean and Peggy, Great Aunt Lilly, Mom in Alexandria Egypt. ting eyelashes for the full effect.) Also during Brigadoon, the actors
used a plastic dead chicken as a prop during a market scene. The day
of dress rehearsal Mom was butchering chickens, so decided to liven
up the play and brought a real dead chicken to use in the scene. The
carcass got ‘hot potato’ tossed around more than the director had an-
ticipated and generated a lot of laughs from the actors; not so much
from the audience who didn’t know that it wasn’t supposed to be real.

“Mom drug me to many rehearsals for her Theater in the Grove per-
formances, so many that I became convinced that I could be the next
great star,” recalled Margaret, “so I tried out for Inherit the Wind.”
Margaret said, “Mom helped me practice a song for my audition,
Match Maker, from The Fiddler On The Roof. I very proudly walked
up on stage, told them all how my Mom had taken me to all the re-
hearsals for all the plays and I knew all the songs and then I began
singing and promptly forgot the words of the song. Even with that
horrific moment, I still made it into the production with an entire line
and everything. Mom helped me with my costume and on the night of
the dress rehearsal she helped me with my makeup, explaining that the
audience needed to see me from the back row. When we walked into
the back stage, one of the ladies took one look at me and said loudly “I

108 Taming The Monster Break A Leg 109

1972. Mom on camel in Cairo, Egypt, pyramids at Giza.


guess you heard that you can never have too much blue eye shadow!” things that she couldn’t get in Cairo, and “Could they please bring
“Apparently you can!” said Margaret. these...” The list included mayonnaise (that she had to make by hand),
cans of tuna fish, hygiene products, and others.
Margaret recalled Mom encouraging her professional singing career.
She said, “Mom accompanied me on my first, and last, wedding per- In 1972 Mom, together with Aunts Lilly and Jean, flew to Cairo. They
formance. I was singing Sun Rise, Sun Set, and somewhere in the sec- stayed in Aunt Peggy and Uncle Farag’s flat in Cairo and got to see
ond verse I lost all of the words and did the only thing that I could in newborn Sharif. Mom spoke of them spending lots of time with Peg-
my professional capacity as a performer: I ducked behind the railing gy catching up on all of the news and hugging and adoring her first
and Mom very nicely finished the song for me.” born son. During their stay, Farag also brought them up to his family
village where they got to meet his loving father, Baba, who couldn’t
One of the most memorable performances that Mom directed the kids speak or understand any English, but knew how to make guests feel
in was a farewell presentation when Aunt Peggy left to get married to welcome in his house and treated them as mayors of his village. They
Farag in Egypt in 1971. The event was entitled, “This Is Your Life, visited the pyramids at Giza, including inside, which wasn’t necessar-
Peggy”, and truly was a homemade show, complete with programs ily legal, but a little ‘baksheesh’ passed that bar, and they went to Khan
and scene changes. John remembers singing together with his broth- al Khalili, a major souk in central Cairo, where Mom bought some
ers, There Ain’t Nothin’ Like A Dame. It was a scene they sang and souvenirs. She came back with artisan stuffed camels which nicely
acted out with one of them dressed as Farag sitting at a bar missing expanded our nativity set, large leather round pillows, and hand etched
Peggy. Tony recalls being called to practice that “Dame” tune over and brass plates, among other things. Mom was infatuated with the flavors
over again because nobody memorized the words. John also appeared of the Egyptian cuisine, and came home with a whole new vocabulary
dressed up as the Statue of Liberty while Susanne got in one of Mom’s of Egyptian dishes.
large wicker clothing baskets to sail around the statue. Margaret re-
calls dressing up being pregnant and eating chocolates. Jane said she As part of the same Egyptian travel, Mom, along with Aunts Lilly
has recollections of the family singing “I’m Leaving On A Jet Plane” and Jean, also stopped in German speaking Switzerland. Mom re-
with Tony accompanying on the piano. And Jane also thanks Aunt called some vocabulary from her German class eight years previously
Peggy because due to the Farewell event, she got out of going to the and would step forward in an attempt to facilitate the communication
Saint Mary’s Speech Contest which was held the following day since while being advised that they also spoke English; however Aunt Lilly
she would be too tired after partying all night. Jane hinted that maybe brushed her aside, saying, “I speak German”, and proceeded to ask
it had more to do with not being prepared. them for directions to the tourist sites that they were planning to visit.
Mom said that they would walk around in circles, not getting to their
Shortly after the family send-off, Aunt Peggy together with Aunt Jean destination, when Aunt Lilly would finally stop and ask someone else,
flew to New York where Peggy embarked on a ship headed to Egypt in German, and they’d continue walking in circles. Then Mom came
and thereafter got married to Farag Attia. Mom would read us near to realize that Aunt Lilly was fluent enough to ask the question, but
monthly air mail letters that she’d receive from Aunt Peggy detailing was lost when it came to understanding the response.
her experiences as she was starting a new life there. In one letter, Aunt
Peggy announced that she was pregnant, and Mom started planning They did make it however, to one of their planned destinations, and
a trip. Aunt Lilly lent some money to both Mom and Aunt Jean to that was a street festival. Mom recalled that the locals were throwing
make the trip possible. Before they left, Aunt Peggy mailed a list of so much ticker tape that the streets were carpeted with an inch or so of

110 Taming The Monster Break A Leg 111


paper. The whole event was extremely lively and festive and according had him pose with a duo who was dressed as a camel. Mom said,
to her, went well into the evening (which for the early bird, might have “Ooh, I bet that costume hasn’t been washed after a million uses, and
meant until quarter to ten). In the morning she was surprised when I wonder if Dalia, his bride, will want to get anywhere near him now.”
she opened her window at sunrise and saw a totally different city: the But the newlywed couple soon started strutting on the dance floor
streets were all swept up and not even one single piece of confetti re- that was over a large lit swimming pool, and the night turned out to
mained. She was impressed that they had cleaned everything during be memorable for all.
the evening leaving it spotless: That was her kind of clean! And Mar-
garet remembers Mom bringing back a hammer from that carnival The following day, everyone went to Aunt Peggy and Uncle Farag’s
festival that we bonked each other on the head with. flat for a scrumptious Egyptian buffet. That was followed by Sharif
and Dalia showing up fashionably late and opening wedding gifts.
After that the group toured several points in Cairo. Aunt Peggy ar-
ranged a tour guide and van that enabled everyone to see a lot of the
“I would rank those pigeons, gold- city’s treasures, including The Citadel and other mosques, a Coptic
en brown on top and simmered in Christian church so that Jane could light some more candles around
the world, and the Pyramids at Giza and The Great Sphinx. At the
a tomato base with spices I couldn’t pyramids, given Mom already got the camel riding experience on her
initial visit to Egypt, she left her husband, Mike, to do the honor,
name, as one of the best foods I while she took responsibility for the camera that constantly thirsted
for film exchange. In the evening, everyone enjoyed a performance by
have ever eaten. I recall it vividly!” the Whirling Dervishes.

Joyce remembers those first experiences of the family being driven


A wedding would have Mom returning to Cairo, Egypt, once again around Cairo. (After a week of all of us constantly sharing “I can’t
in September 1999. This time, Sharif was a grown man and about to believe that” kind of stories about the traffic there, including blowing
be married. Mom travelled there with Mike and stayed at a luxurious through some stop lights but not others with seemingly little rhyme
hotel in the vicinity of The Pyramids. Joyce and Mike, Jane, Tony, and or reason.) She said, “While our lanes were at a standstill, the van
Aunt Jean made the trip and stayed in the same hotel. When they driver followed a slew of cars passing over the median of the eight lane
went to visit Mom’s room, they couldn’t believe it, her suite was larger highway to drive the wrong way down the freeway, only to have to
than her house in Hillsboro, Oregon. Mom was initially worried that have each car turn around and backtrack in order to get back into the
they might have erroneously put her in the bridal suite. jammed up traffic going the right way!” Joyce added, “Best though was
the drive through Cairo in the evening with the head lights turned off
Sharif and Dalia’s wedding was spectacular and went late into the on our way to the wedding at 9:00 pm! Didn’t want to burn out any
evening. There were a multitude of bands, lots of folkloric dancing headlights!”
transitioning into more modern, then ending with ‘The Bomba’, an
Argentina borne Belly Dancer. At one point during the wedding fes- The next day, Farag took us all up north to his family village and af-
tivities, they came over and tugged the groom, Sharif, who was very ter enjoying some afternoon tea, we got to watch a barefooted young
stylishly outfitted, and dressed him in traditional shepherd’s garb. They woman dressed in a vibrant red gown, squatting on the ground in front

112 Taming The Monster Break A Leg 113


of an outdoor oven, roasting stuffed squab. Remembering the dinner
that followed, Joyce commented, “I would rank those pigeons, golden
brown on top and simmered in a tomato base with spices I couldn’t
name, as one of the best foods I have ever eaten. I recall it vividly!”

Following dinner we all donned galabeyas (the men wore white while
the women wore brightly colored gowns) then walked through the
village as we amassed hundreds of followers, particularly children.
We passed several horse or donkey pulled wagons with colorful ara-
bic script on their side rails. We saw a number of women and some
children balancing agriculture produce on their heads walking back
to their houses. At the end of the village road we came to the river
bank that was lined with women washing pots and pans and laundry.
Baba motioned for us to board a small rope tug ferry that we crossed
the river in, then at the opposing bank, we disembarked and wandered
through a farming trail seeing some agricultural practices in action as
well as a classic oxen turned water wheel. Mom remembered seeing
those in action during her first visit to Egypt, recalling the cows with
blinders slowly walking in a circle and hearing the soft ‘creak’, ‘creak’,
sound made from the turning of its wooden axle. But at the water
wheel we found some cows tied up grazing next to it with the irriga-
tion water being extracted by a gas powered pump. Upon returning to
Baba’s house, we had evening tea, then a few of his grandsons set up a
water pipe and had all of the men give it a try.

The next few days we all went to visit Luxor and The Valley Of The
Kings in Upper Egypt. Tony led that tour, and given we didn’t have
Farag along to quietly shoe away the many street vendors, we were
presented with ample opportunity to buy all kinds of souvenirs. While
at the bazar in Cairo, Farag had shown us how to negotiate the price,
at least half or more, when buying goods; however in Luxor, Mom
appreciated how Mike Z. delighted in paying full price for everything
rather than barter the price down, and especially buying from all the
little kids who approached us. So we ended up carrying home a few
more trinkets and became more adept at counting Egyptian coins and
bills to pay for all the goods.

114 Taming The Monster Break A Leg 115

1972. Mom arriving in Cairo, Egypt.


Rancho Craft Acres
After experiencing an immense farm while living in Verboort, moving
back to the 1/2 acre property in Roy was quite constraining, consider-
ing the animals we brought with us and the expanding 4-H projects
including horses, dairy cattle, rabbits, sheep, dogs, gardening and land-
scaping that the kids were involved in. Ginger and Pepper, horses
Mom bought while in Verboort, were housed in our horse trailer at
the edge of the property and taken out and exercised regularly. After
a while the aluminum trailer supports started to deteriorate from the
horse urine and manure, and Mom finally had to part with her two
equine friends. On the other hand, the initial three Holstein heifers
had a better fate. Well, at least two of them. We think Joyce must have
sold hers to buy a cello! (Actually, Joyce rented the cello and her heifer
ended up in the freezer, which turned out to be a godsend, tiding the
family over with meat the months while Dad was looking for work.)

After Tony received a white ribbon and was at the bottom of his class
while showing his heifer, he claims that he had wished his critter was

116 Taming The Monster Rancho Craft Acres 117


sent to the freezer also. After that, he said that Mom had dispatched them through the calving process, and then milking them.
Vickie VanDyke (Hertel), a more senior 4-H member, to work with
him, and in the process, he was humbled to learn that his initial poor Jim and Tony milked the cows by hand before and after school, and
ranking had more to do with a lack of showmanship ability than the then brought the pails into the house to run through a strainer. Ac-
animal’s confirmation. cording to Jim, Mom once told him about when Uncles Carl and Phil
were milking cows at their home place, that Uncle Carl would squirt
The first summer after leaving the farm, our 4H dairy animals were the tail of Uncle Phil’s cow until it was soaked with milk. He would
lodged at Charlie Herinckx’s farm, so we didn’t have as much contact then tickle Uncle Phil’s cow which caused it to swing its tail into Phil’s
with them as we would have liked to ready them for the fair. During face. Jim said that he tried that trick on Tony and it worked just as he
that time there was some tension in the air, a concern that the sheriff had hoped. That is, until Tony ran to Mom and spilled the beans. Af-
might come take our animals while at the fair. The gist of it was that ter that, Jim had to milk both cows by himself for a week. Jim said, “It
Grandpa Evers had agreed that the three oldest kids would each re- seems Tony must have enjoyed his time off from cow milking because
ceive a heifer, which would be their 4H project, in lieu of payment for when he came back to help out again, he squirted himself with milk
their work doing farm chores. However, when he signed the cattle and then told Mom that I did it again. This time I had to milk the
bill of sale in the process of selling the farm, he omitted excluding the cows by myself for a whole year.”
three heifers that were promised to his grandkids from the total count
of the animal sale. That resulted in a threat from the buyer’s attorney Mom bought a reconditioned hand crank cream separator and started
that the animals would be retrieved. selling cream to the Forest Grove Creamery. That meant we were
early adaptors to drinking skim milk. She peddled fresh whole milk
The eventuality of that threat didn’t bother us while our critters were to a few local customers, but one time made a mistake of delivering a
sheltered at the Herinckx farm, but that changed while at the Wash- gallon of skimmed milk to the elderly Vandomelens at the bottom of
ington County Fair with our animals on full public display. We would the hill. They had already drunk it and said they didn’t notice any dif-
get nervous when seeing someone slowly walking down the barn aisle ference, so if it was cheaper, keep on delivering it. With that in mind,
with a clipboard in hand reading name plaques above the cows. For we continued producing milk, and John, also seemingly indifferent to
ordinary 4H dairy club members, that meant a barn inspection was whole or skim, would pound down any extra, picking up a gallon and
underway, meaning they should get everything in top shape to qualify chugging the whole thing in one standing.
for a daily herdsmen award, but for us that year, each visit by an in-
spector made us wonder if it was a private investigator looking for the Mom also did home-made butter from the cow’s cream, beating it to
Evers’ calves. No one came to take our heifers away; however, it did death in her Kitchen Aid. After awhile, the kids thought the butter
make us extremely attentive to barn duty that year with us doing more had a rancid taste, so Mom implemented a home, milk-and-cream
than our fair share of aisle sweeping, earning the club daily herdsmen pasteurization system where she boiled the dairy products, then cooled
recognition. them in ice, to avoid the off-taste. After that, we never used margarine.

Sometime after the fair, Mom negotiated with our next door neighbor There was a small shed beside the cow stable that we were renting
to rent their barn and pasture, so we were able to have our 4H animals where the neighbors housed a Shetland pony that they bought for
close at hand. Soon thereafater, we got to learn about watching for their youngest daughter, Julie. She had only ridden it a couple of times
them to come into heat, timing their artificial insemination, helping and lost interest. Once when she was on vacation, she entrusted Mar-

118 Taming The Monster Rancho Craft Acres 119


garet with caring for it, and gave her careful instructions including patio and invading the space. They also went to visit Hank and Lena
how she was to walk the pony up and down the driveway for exercise. Vanderzanden in Banks where Lena showed a border planting of large
Margaret recalled, “Well, one day they came home, and I was doing fir trees to separate her place from the rowdy Banks Brown Derby. In
exactly as instructed, although I guess she didn’t mean that I was to the end, Mom decided to tackle another remodeling project, the attic,
ride her horse, only lead it. Mom had to come to my rescue over that and used those siding boards to construct a fence.
big kerfuffle.” And it was possible that Julie’s Mom also happened to
see the Evers’ boys jump on and ride which bothered her. Shortly after Mom was constantly in search of new learning, and wasn’t abashed
that, the pony was sold. That left an empty shed and an opportunity at asking other’s advice. She read a lot, attended classes and short
that Mom saw to house sheep. Soon thereafter we had an initial small courses, and would glom onto knowledgeables, particularly in her area
flock of 4-H sheep and got to learn all about the care, breeding, partu- of interest, including farming and livestock. She enrolled in practi-
rition, docking, castration, grooming, and showing of sheep. cally every course that John Leffel, Washington County Extension
Livestock Specialist, put on. She was an ‘early adopter’. For example,
For the sheering, Mom hired a third party to carry out this process, in her sheep operation, she originally started with Romneys, a wool
and he did it in our front lawn. The kids would all lead their prized breed, after researching which would be best suited to her operation.
4-H animals down to him and swiftly he would shear them of the Later, when the economics of selling wool became less favorable, she
wool and return them up to their enclosure. Mom had negotiated a converted to Katahdin, a more recent Maine USA developed hair
rental agreement with our neighbor, Mr. Francis VanDomelen based breed that didn’t need to be sheered.
on animal unit per year and was paying on a quarterly basis for our
use of their pasture and facilities. Francis’ wife, Jean, a typical ‘Gladys Tony said that his Mom took him to visit farms for sale from time to
Kravitz – Bewitched’ thought that what she was seeing through her time after they moved off EverMay Farms. She was looking for more
window blinds was that Mom was butchering the sheep and then property to accommodate all of the kids’ projects and something the
bringing in new ones to use the shed. She thought that Mom should family could earn a living on. After the visit, she would prepare a farm
pay double for the use of the land, so started screaming at the edge of plan and budget, do some inquiries – especially John Leffel, Exten-
our property that Mom was cheating her. Her husband understood sion Agent, - prepare a cash flow forecast, and then rework the family
the production cycle of shearing, but he wasn’t able to assuage his wife. budget. She wasn’t able to find the ideal fit but continued the search.
Then, one day Uncle Gene came and asked her if she and Dad might
Mom decided that it would be convenient to put up a privacy barrier be interested in taking over EverMay Farms, as he was considering
at the side of the house that butted up against the VanDomelen’s. She moving back to his old place in North Plains, but wanted the farm
convinced Tony to take it up as a 4-H landscaping project, and drove to remain in trusted family hands. Mom was quite familiar with that
him around to visit some people who had some similar landscaping farm’s financials, as she had done the books for a number of years.
challenges. They went to visit Uncle George and Aunt Thelma in Lake
Oswego where Thelma had installed bamboo curtains between posts Tony remembers he was excited at the prospect of moving back to Ev-
in her back yard and planted them in with live bamboo. It made a spa- erMay Farms and discussed improvement plans for the operation. He
cious outdoor patio area which Tony thought would be a comfortable even remembers staying up late at night drawing out house remodel-
retreat during nice weather to get out of her house that was being ing and landscaping plans. But after the plan was presented to Dad,
invaded by collections of boxes and hoarded things. However, once who still wasn’t on speaking terms with his brother, Gene, it was nixed.
the bamboo plants got established, they too started creeping into the Consequently, Mom continued with the dream of owning a farm, and

120 Taming The Monster Rancho Craft Acres 121


in June of 1988, it came to fruition. Although by then, the youngest upped our buying power.” Tony remembers he and Jim combing all
of the kids was completing her University degree and beyond 4-H the area ditches trying to collect pop and beer bottles to extend their
years, the new farm would host grand and great grandkids where Mom allowance money. Receiving a penny per container resulted in a slow
would share with them her many joys of farm life. accumulation of wealth, only to have the majority of it disappear when
they circled around the candy counter before checking in their return-
Jane looks back at how Mom helped us kids learn financial skills as we ables. However, in 1972 when the law changed to 5 cent bottle de-
were growing up. She had Jane pay the house bills for a while, which posit, they thought they would become millionaires and fervently went
meant writing out the checks, and balancing and reconciling the fam- about cleaning up the roadsides. Unfortunately, everyone else had the
ily checkbook. Tony said that Mom established an initial business for same idea, or people just stopped throwing their empties out the win-
him when she bought a rabbit, set up a bank account, and had him dow. In desperation one day, after a hard days work of bottle hunting,
budget and pay for feed and other necessities. Jane also was given a they took a wagon load of Dad’s quart bottles down to Moore’s store,
rabbit at the time, but for some reason her rabbit didn’t bother to have thinking they’d get five cents each on the deposit refund. Unfortu-
any bunnies. Apparently Jane’s doe figured out that she was never nately, the law only applied to stubbies, and quart returnables only paid
planning to eat rabbit. In any event, Tony recalls making money the a penny a piece. Furthermore, the Moore’s thought it a bit suspicious
first year, but then the local rabbit market dried up, and it wasn’t as and called Mom, which meant the boys had to forfeit the money and
profitable. They are both thankful to Mom for the important life skills return the bottles to the house.
she imparted to them.
Joyce added, “Mom starting saving when she was around those ages
Joyce recalls while in early elementary school that Mom got several of herself, and unlike us, she saved enough to buy a horse. I can’t recall
us those little spiral bound memo books and gave us clear instructions how old she said she was when she did this, but it was remarkably
on how to track the money we earned and spent, recording what we young to save like she did with the result of getting a horse. For sure
spent it on, and then regularly reviewing with her how spending the she had the horse by the time she went to high school, as she was on
nickel allowance we had on gum or candy meant that we didn’t have the equestrian team, so maybe 13 at the latest. In order to come up
much saved for something bigger. Joyce said, “Go figure! We had to with that sum of money, she had to start saving fastidiously years be-
pass by Moore’s store at the end of the lane (in Roy) several times a fore that.”
day on the way to and from school and lunch hour, or there was the
Verboort store across the street from the school, how very tempting. Margaret reminisced about how Mom has been a foundation of en-
The ‘Pixie Sticks’ (basically straws filled with Kool-Aid like flavored couragement for her through the years. She commented that recently
sugar) were always the favorites to my recollection. We got several for she sat down and poured her heart and soul into writing two thank you
a penny I think, maybe even 5. Mom really thought those Pixie Sticks notes, each taking well over an hour, and even had Joyce edit one for
were a waste of money, which later as a mom myself, I surely concur! her. Margaret said, “After the heavy sigh of relief at a job sort-of-well
Nevertheless, the little kids always liked to share those, so they were done, I thought about all the times Mom stood over ‘gently encourag-
happy not to snitch on us for a taste when we walked up the lane with ing’ me to write yet another laborious thank-you note. My thoughts
them! But I will say that Mom was on it.” then turned to the overwhelming feelings of love that Mom sent me
over the years, and usually at a time when I needed it most.” Margaret
And Joyce recalled, “Hershey bars were a nickel at that time. Also, continued, “she randomly would send me a thank you note for some
around then, in Oregon, they started giving deposits on bottles, so we minuscule thing I did blowing it way out of proportion, and yet even

122 Taming The Monster Rancho Craft Acres 123


knowing that I didn’t deserve the kudos she was tossing about, I still
felt like a hero for the moment. She has a great way with written
words of encouragement”. Ken added, “And Mom’s poems, too, are
always full of encouragement. She is a cup running over with hope
and enthusiasm.”

John commented about Mom teaching the kids to be responsible and


productive. He said, “She was always finding ways for us to earn mon-
ey by working, whether it be by picking strawberries, raspberries, cu-
cumbers, blackberries, walnuts, or whatever was in season. Then, when
we got older, she had us buck hay bales or do yard work for neighbors.
I remember when I was about 12 or 13, Mom lined up a job for me
bucking hay bales for Jeff Vandyke. She drove me there, and then went
along out in the field to help buck the bales.”

124 Taming The Monster Rancho Craft Acres 125


1974. Mom presenting John with 4H trophy.
Fifty Ways To
Make Corn Meal
Having such a large family, Mom proved to be quite thrifty when it
came to feeding everybody. Sometimes she’d get picked-over food
program boxes from the Rebischke’s. It would typically have lots of
bags of corn meal and split peas. Often we would have corn meal mush
for breakfast. After that, when we walked home from school at noon
while our classmates were eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
and chips from their sack lunches, we munched on fried corn meal
(polenta). Then for dinner, Mom extended a small package of ground
beef by mixing it with the left over corn meal and made meatloaf.
Tony remembers while living at EverMay Farms when the Quaker
Oats tube ran dry, he’d be sent out to the granary bin to scoop out a
container of wheat. Mom would soak that overnight and would cook
it making breakfast bulgur. Also, someone would be sent out to dip
some molasses out of the cows’ large bulk tank for making gingerbread

126 Taming The Monster Fifty Ways To Make Corn Meal 127

1994. Mom’s 60th birthday party; dinner served in her electric frying pan.
waffles, gingerbread cake, or just when the brown sugar was running had pallets of day-old pastries in his pig barn. We loaded the car’s
out. trunk with packages of bear-claws, cinnamon rolls, and assorted oth-
er pastry, filling Mom’s bench freezer and savoring those goodies for
We were definitely a walnut household. Even back at Shedd we had months after. So long, Grape-Nuts!
racks with walnuts that we gathered from the orchard drying around
the heating stove. In fact, a walnut tray too close to the stove gave us
our first house fire experience. Joyce, the second grader, had already
learned the drill at Catholic school so rounded all the kids up, marched “Once we spent the weekend at the
them out the door in single file away from the house and took roll call.
Presumably the nuns omitted training on informing your parents in
beach and got to go out to a Dairy
case of fire, or telephoning the fire brigade. Mom discovered the fire Queen, where Mom announced
herself because she was curious what the kids were doing; good thing
she was an attentive parent. She was cooking in the kitchen and as that we could get any burger on the
we marched through and disappeared out the back door, the quietness
and single file must have been intriguing in its unusualness given our
menu. That was the best!”
typical rowdiness. Joyce said, “I presume Mom figured it was a new
kind of game. Surely, had she not been made aware, that old wooden
house could well have gone up in flames.” Mom found that her kids John recalled how Mom was able to afford having lots of kids partici-
were all safe and accounted for by the drill expert, put the fire out, and pate at fairs where the food concession booths were exorbitant for a
we all went back to normal life and processing walnuts. large family. She’d bring her trusty old electric frying pan, plug it in
next to a stall where one might use a cow clippers, and would whip up
John remembers the house in Roy being swamped with walnuts and a meal for all of us. She’d also make sure we had an extra tack box that
rotating racks filled with them around the oil stove. We didn’t have a was filled with apples, typically gravensteins, but some years if they
walnut tree at Roy until years later and it didn’t produce much; how- weren’t ripe yet, then golden delicious. Also, State Fair coincided with
ever, John recalls the pleasure of helping his siblings and Mom glean our early grape harvest so we munched on a lot of those too.
walnuts from Dave and Louella Vandehey’s farm at the end of the
season. John said, “After drying them all, I remember there being a ton “There was no extra money for frivolous foods such as potato chips,”
of walnuts for our kid’s cracking and sorting production line.” John remarked. “It seems the only time those ever showed up at our
house was when the chips were used as an enticement for those who
For a couple of years we had everything made with filberts. Uncle Joe could finish eating their allotment of liver. We’d go out to a restau-
got filbert rejects for cow feed from a local processing plant, and Jim, rant once a year or so, and when we did, we were limited to the basic
who was working there, daily scarfed up buckets of the better looking burger.” John exclaimed, “Once we spent the weekend at the beach
ones to bring home. Maybe it had to do with him not liking to crack and got to go out to a Dairy Queen, where Mom announced that we
walnuts, as these all came pre-cracked; regardless, everyone enjoyed could get any burger on the menu. That was the best!”
having all the goodies and whole filberts to munch on even though
they were seconds. But the best ‘pig-out’ on second-hand food that A standing meal time house rule was to take a modest helping of
we had however, was when we discovered that Grandpa Kenny Miller everything that was passed around the table, then to eat all of what

128 Taming The Monster Fifty Ways To Make Corn Meal 129
was on your plate. For Jim, that always presented a challenge with bor’s side, she trellised a row of grapes that produced huge purple fruit.
cooked peas because he absolutely hated them; for others, liver, in par- They were typically so abundant that we had more than our fill of
ticular, was an obstacle. Fortunately, our slide out expandable table fresh ones, a lot left over for canning grape juice, and sometimes Mom
with underneath rails had channels that accommodated the unwanted would dabble at making grape wine. Later, a row of fruit trees were
portions. The pieces had to be cut to size, then at the right moment, espaliered in a row at the front side of the house, providing an assort-
scooted off the plate to the lap, then jammed into the undercarriage by ment of apple varieties and other fruits, and next to that, raspberries
hand. Years later, when Joyce took over the family table, her husband and blackberry canes.
Mike found it to be quite a feat to clean the petrified food from those
rails while he was stripping down the furniture. Unfortunately, the family demand was higher than what we could
produce at home, so she combed the valley looking for deals on pick-
One of the real advantages of having to stretch the food budget is that it-yourself fruit. A friend invited the family to pick cherries in their
Mom was constantly baking bread. We could smell that fresh baked commercial orchard, and we did for several hours until we pretty much
smell throughout the house when she pulled the pans from the oven. had the trees stripped down. We also attempted to pick some pie
Then we’d wait five or ten minutes or so for it to cool down just enough cherries, but they were way too ripe and sweet, beyond the possibility
that we could eat it without burning our mouths. By that time, Mom of canning. We loaded the large containers of our harvest in to the
would have already moved on to another task, and the coast was clear trunk of the car, but when we arrived home, she was very disappointed
to invade the kitchen, cut a nice thick slice, smother it with butter and to find that our harvest containers were less than half full, and thought
enjoy! Then she got a Kitchen Aid mixer, and she expanded the bak- that it was due to over-ripe fruit shrinkage. She didn’t think we had
ing menu to rolls and other goods. It was bread baking on steroids. It enough fruit to get us through the winter. In reality it had nothing to
was always white bread and was wonderfully delicious. Unfortunately, do with the ripeness of the fruit; instead, it was that our aging yellow
Mom’s best friend Marjorie Van Dyke’s daughter, Carol, a dentist with ‘57 Chevrolet had a dilapidated package tray that gave the back seat
some health problems, introduced her to the ‘whole grains world’, boys access to the trunk’s contents, coupled with a rusted out hole in
sharing a number of new age healthy eating books. White bread was the floor, giving them a place to drop the pits, ‘the evidence’.
temporarily suspended, and Mom started on a learning curve to make
healthy bread scrumptious. The regular cherries were canned whole, meaning the pits stayed in,
but after we harvested pie cherries, we would all help Mom take the
Over the years, Mom maximized the use of the Roy land to be able to pits out. Sometimes we would slip a whole cherry in a jar, thinking it
grow a lot of the fruits we ate. With only a few feet to the edge of the was good luck to bite into a piece of pie with a cherry pit. If anything,
property line behind the house, she planted a row of gooseberries with one would guess it was good luck for our dentist.
some rhubarb plants wedged in between. We would pick and eat the
gooseberries while they were quite sour and crunchy, and Mom would Mom always gladly accepted boxes of fruit or vegetables and or boxes
make pies of them maintaining this great tart quality of the berries. with old clothes and things. A few times the boxes just appeared on
It wasn’t till years later that we would taste mature, and grossly sweet our porch. Sometimes this would entail apples or other fruit or veg-
gooseberries, and wondered, why would anyone let them get so ripe. etables that weren’t exactly eatable, but other times there were pret-
We appreciated fruits and things more on the sour side. ty interesting items to be found. Once there was a kid’s Dutchmen
costume in a box. Tony couldn’t wait to put that on and go over to
Right at the property line, or maybe a little bit over on the neigh- Grandma and Grandpa’s to go out and work the cows. He thought

130 Taming The Monster Fifty Ways To Make Corn Meal 131
that given their Holstein breed originated in Holland, they certainly line for days to bleach from the muslin yellow to a clean white. At one
would appreciate having a Dutchman in their midst. Thus, at the first point, Mom bought a used wringer washer for extracting excess water
opportunity, Tony donned the outfit and went out with Jim to bring to facilitate the drying. Mom generally operated the machines, but
the cows up for milking. The costume scared a cow with a newborn other clothing chores, emptying the clothes hamper, sorting according
calf which came after both Jim and Tony. Jim tried to fend it off with to color, hanging and removing from the line or dryer and folding were
a stick while Tony scrambled for the fence. Jim said, “While I was try- assigned to the kids.
ing to protect my costumed younger brother, the cow pushed me into
the electric fence and gave me a whopping shock.” As it happened, Mom also often did the folding and organizing of
the clean laundry; it never seemed like work when watching her. It
And speaking of costumes, buying full on ones for Halloween wasn’t was amazing how fast and efficient she would do it. Every person
so much in vogue at the time, and most kids displayed their favorite had a stack, every stack was neatly done, they were always in the same
characters via masks for their trick or treating activities. Mom, how- quadrant/location of the table, you knew exactly where your pile was
ever, went for the creative (aka economical) approach and we were walking in from school, and yes, of course, we were responsible for put-
encouraged to create our own masks, which we did out of big brown ting them away before any dinner would be had. Then there was the
recycled paper shopping bags. mastery with which she handled and folded sheets, especially the fit-
ted ones. They always ended up the same size to fit neatly in a drawer
Halloween was also a time to make some homemade doughnuts, cara- or cupboard, and when unfolding, you always knew how to lay them
mel coated apples, or popcorn balls rather than buy candy. One year, on the bed so they would fit right the first time. Similarly, Joyce recalls,
we even did pre-trick or treat activities like bobbing for apples. Ken re- “Stacks of towels, done every day, oh my! How did she get every kid
calls one Halloween when Mom made a large batch of doughnuts and through the bathtub every single day, dirty as we were (after barn, yard,
Jeff and Eunice Van Dyke brought their autistic son, Jeffery John, over or garden chores, or just outside activity), and then have every towel
to trick-or-treat. He apparently liked the donut so much that the next washed everyday to be able to do it again the next day. The hamper
day he walked all the way from his house in Verboort to ours in Roy to outside the bathroom only held so much. Bottom line…good thing
get another doughnut. Krispy Kreme and Voodoo you better look out! I have a Mike! That kind of organization and efficiency with laundry
Ken added that there weren’t any doughnuts left over, so instead Mom still escapes me!”
treated him to blackberry cobbler or her blackberry special. She said it
was cute watching him eat it using a large serving spoon. In the years before cotton/polyester blends, there was a lot of ironing
to do and Mom would mix boxes of flaked starch into water, slurry the
There were other times that Mom would get large boxes of clothing, clothes into it, then wring them out and roll them up before placing
hand-me-downs, and we all had fun trying the pieces on to see who into plastic bags in the freezer. Afterwards, these would be divvied up
would be able to add to their wardrobe. Periodically, we would also as an ironing chore.
need to pull things we had outgrown and pass them down to a younger
sibling. There was never an end to the laundry tending task. There was One of the first things Mom did after moving into the Roy house, was
a constant flow of dirty home-made cloth diapers, bed linens, and mul- install a clothes line. It had five lines and extended from in front of the
tiple changes of clothes from all the active kids. Also, Mom would oc- utility room out towards the driveway. When the weather cooperated,
casionally obtain a bunch of empty flour sacks that she’d cut open and Mom would have the clothes line filled to capacity. She preferred the
launder to be used for drying dishes. These she’d hang on the clothes feel of line-dried towels versus machine dried ones. The only excep-

132 Taming The Monster Fifty Ways To Make Corn Meal 133
tion was when the Duyck’s with the pig farm were spreading manure, remind the person in charge to fulfill that duty on collection day. Con-
then the dryer ones were definitely more pleasant. The clothes line currently, it was when Shel Silverstein published her children’s book
also would later serve useful for unicycle training, something we got entitled, “Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout”, and that became one of Mom’s
for Christmas, but never mastered away from the crutch of the wires. all time favorite poems.

From the kitchen window looking at the front yard, the clothes line Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout
was to the right, and almost directly in front, was a lone fir tree. It
didn’t have lower branches, so didn’t bother the clothes line, but was Would not take the garbage out.
increasing in height at a pretty good pace, and when it would bow with
the slightest wind, it would bring back memories of the neighbor’s tree She’d wash the dishes and scrub the pans
crashing into the front of their house during the Columbus Day storm.
Also, our electrical service line ran through the tree branches. Mom Cook the yams and spice the hams,
thought the tree should be topped.
And though her parents would scream and shout,
Dad climbed up to the tree top and started hand sawing sections in
order to shorten it. It was a slow process, given the diameter of the She simply would not take the garbage out.
tree, and that he was doing it by hand, but he persisted and would cut
and toss off section by section of the crown. Tony noticed that Dad Every spring Saint Francis Grade School would host a family picnic
was in the tree and was just finishing cutting another two foot section, at Shute Park in Hillsboro. It was one event we all looked forward to
so went out and stood under the tree yelling, “Here Dad, toss it to me”. and an opportunity to see if we had improved our coordination from
Dad knew it was way too heavy for young Tony to catch, so he hollered the previous year when it came to roller skating at the big rink in the
at him again to get away from the tree. At that time, Tony didn’t hear park. Mom would typically go skating along side the kids; however,
what Dad was saying and kept telling him to toss it to him. The heavy there was one time that she twisted her ankle on the way to church, so
log was weighing on Dad and he needed to let it go, but that would had to sit that skating year on the sidelines. Lunch was potluck and
have been right on top of Tony. Finally, in desperation, Dad heaved there were always those parents who could not cook, so they brought
it out as far as he could, away from Tony, and the log hit the electrical lots of potato chips and other salty snacks. It was an infrequent oc-
service wire to the house, cutting off the electricity. We were without casion to munch on things we did not get at home. We also went ice
electricity for a day or so while Mom nearly suffered delirium tremors skating once a year around Christmas time at the Lloyd Center rink.
not being able to use her electric frying pan. Dad somehow main-
tained his cool and walked by Tony muttering, “You nincompoop.” Mom worked at Dierickx Farms for several years as strawberry crew
boss and would get to bring home nightly boxes of strawberries. Those
In the early years, we burned most of the family ‘garbage’ in a fifty she usually cut with a knife, sprinkled with a tad of sugar, and then
five gallon metal barrel in the back of the house. Then, the County served with whipped cream. They were always delicious, even after
restricted burning, so we had to start paying the garbage man to haul slaving a full day picking them. It was our good fortune that at the
away the trash. At first, he came up the driveway for it. After awhile, end of the season, she was always the first that could go in before they
he insisted we tug it to the bottom of the driveway. That’s when taking opened the field up for u-picking, and we brought home lots of flats
out the garbage became a despised chore, and Mom constantly had to of the berries. That created a real dilemma for the boys who weren’t

134 Taming The Monster Fifty Ways To Make Corn Meal 135
as fast pickers as Joyce and Jane, and who were accustomed to filling be remedied, as it was a pity to see so many beautiful plants disappear
up the bottoms of their hallocks with dirt clods. No, that didn’t work from the grounds. The maintenance person muttered at her, saying
when they were picking for family consumption, and when the field that each of those lawn obstacles reduced his lawn mowing efficiency,
boss, their Mom, would discover their trick when the berry flat was and he planned to take them all out. It made Mom sick to see those
carried home. They had to pick for real when it came to u-picking! beautiful grounds being destroyed, and when she would notice the guy
removing another plant, it was all she could do to restrain herself from
Mom made the best freezer jam. After strawberry harvest, she also grabbing a hoe or other garden utensil and run after him to keep him
worked as crew boss for Finegan’s. They weren’t the easiest people to from killing off more of the landscape. She finally decided it was time
work for, but it did provide a lot of fresh raspberries and a half freezer to retire from that job.
full of jam made from them! Mom continues putting up record quan-
tities of fruits and vegetables, and over the years her garden size has Once Susanne was in high school, Mom started working on her col-
grown, as well as the space taken up by her garage and basement pan- lege degree more intensely. She had taken quite a few courses over
tries and multiple freezers. If there were ever a natural disaster, Mom’s the years accumulating credits, including television higher education
house would be the place to go hang out. programs and night classes; however, some of those had expired over
time, so it was necessary to redo some of the credits. She enrolled at
Mom finally stashed her umbrella hat and berry picking clothes, retir- Portland State University, attending classes with alumni 40 years her
ing as field boss. Although she would eventually get more mileage out junior, and with a lot of hard work and persistence, graduated with a
of her classic long sleeve white shirts, wearing them while working on degree in accounting and psychology.
other projects, somehow during all those years she managed to avoid
getting them stained from flying berries. However retiring as ‘boss’ Thereafter, Mom got her first job as a graduate working as an accoun-
completely wouldn’t happen for a few years as she maintained her 4-H tant for PMI (Property Management Inc.), managing the account-
Dairy Superintendent position at the Washington County Fair as well ing and financial functions of a portfolio of multi-family properties in
as volunteer boss at the 4-H Chuckwagon. inter-city Portland and Vancouver. PMI was then bought by a con-
solidator who had their own financial infrastructure, which ended up
Mom used her 4-H connection to get a job working at the Washington leaving her without a job.
County Extension office that was along the Tualatin Valley Highway
in Hillsboro. The office setting was a long two story building set back Mom found a nice fit when she landed an accounting job with Norris,
from the busy highway, surrounded by a serene grass landscape filled Beggs, & Simpson, a real estate firm in the Portland area. At NB&S
with trees and shrubs. As office manager, Mom quickly put order she did accounting for their Commercial Properties division. In ad-
to the establishment, organizing files, schedules, cataloging brochures, dition to overseeing and reconciling the collection of rental monies,
and in particular, updating their fulfillment processes. However, once as she did for PMI, she got to do maintenance financial projections
she had the office running efficiently, she started to notice what was and long and short term budgets. Not only did Mom enjoy working
going on outside involving the grounds care. Every couple of weeks, there, she also found them to be a great work family, and participated
she’d notice that a seemingly healthy shrub or tree would be removed in their outside-of-work corporate activities such as volunteering to-
from the landscape. She spoke to the grounds maintenance person gether with Mike for the Hood to Coast relay. During the same time,
asking him if the plant was diseased, and if so, perhaps he should dis- Mom also did rental accounting for her own duplex and Tony’s four-
cuss the problem with an extension agent to see if the problem could plex, managing payroll for Solid Ground Construction, and of course

136 Taming The Monster Fifty Ways To Make Corn Meal 137
did accounting for Mike’s Z’s Car Care Business, as well as helped
manage training and safety and office paper work. According to Ken,
Mom also volunteered as construction manager for Erin’s Mom, Mi-
chelle, coordinating the remodel of her house in Beaverton.

Eventually Mom retired from Norris, Beggs, & Simpson and returned
to work on her farm; although she would frequently be called back to
NB&S to work various fill-ins or special projects. As it turned out,
she ended up having three retirement “events” there, usually involving
a celebratory cake at least. Then later, when she was called back in for
some quick help or something, she told them right when she walked
in the door, that she was more than willing to help out, but didn’t want
another cake. Alas, three celebrations were enough, or they should
have changed to blackberry special, apple cobbler, or pie! It was obvi-
ous that they certainly valued her.

At home, after painting the house and out buildings, expanding her
garden and flower beds, updating scrapbooks, reorganizing her filing
system, etc, she seemingly ran out of things to fill her day, so went to
work for Erin at Evers Law Office. Mom started out helping in the
remodel of the first law office, and once the upgrades were buttoned
up and the reception desk was installed, she took over that function as
well as the office bookkeeping.

Five years later when Erin bought a new building for her law office,
Mom put on her construction hat again and worked after hours re-
modeling that office while she was still working her day job. A year or
two after the new office was opened, Mom retired as receptionist and
bookkeeper. Soon after that she worked at Tony’s floor covering busi-
ness as office manager and bookkeeper. Mom retired again after she
managed the closure and disposal of assets of that business when Tony
decided to live and work overseas.

138 Taming The Monster Fifty Ways To Make Corn Meal 139

1991. Mom at John’s backyard family barbecue.


Castle For Amy
When Tony returned from his IFYE stint in Egypt in 1977, he tried to
convince Mom to tear down a dilapidated lean-to that was the family
utility room and pantry, and replace it with a new addition. Tony, who
annually hung Christmas lights around the perimeter of the house,
was thinking that it would be nice from the road view to have straight
instead of sagging illuminated roof lines. On the other hand, Mom
was surely thinking of gaining expanded pantry space for all her can-
ning projects. Also, she’d get a protective place to park her new Dat-
sun, ‘Amy’, lovingly named due to its license plate number, ‘Amy-151’.

They finally agreed on the project, enlisted John’s help, tore down the
old shed, and built an extensive addition including a two car garage,
laundry/utility room, and large canned goods pantry on the Roy house.
John, Tony and Mom prefabricated the trusses in Dierickx’s barn, set-
ting up the wood floor as a jig, then transporting them on one of his
trailers to the construction site to lift into place. Once the construc-
tion was finished, Tony was happy when Christmas rolled around, as

140 Taming The Monster Castle For Amy 141


1978. Mom nailing the new garage utility room subfloor.
the lights on the Evers’ house were spectacular given all the straight doing with the manual car, and turned the key. The car wouldn’t start,
roof lines! so she assumed the battery was dead and called Dad to jump the car.
That didn’t work either. Then Tony came home, jumped into the car,
The garage, ‘Amy’s new home’, also incorporated a long work bench moved the lever to ‘P’ for Park and the car started right up. Later,
along the side as well as a wood burning stove at the back, making it when Joyce tried to get started on a hill after a stop, she kept her foot
comfortable to work on projects on cold winter days. Taking advan- on the brake, set the handbrake and revved the engine. As she released
tage of that, Mom signed up for a class on leaded glass windows, and the handbrake the rear wheels peeled out, and she asked, “What is
started cranking out artful pieces from this new cozy work place. The wrong with this car?” It had a 327 engine and was automatic transmis-
family enjoyed Mom’s artworks as they appeared around the house sion, no need to use the handbrake when starting on a hill.
hanging on suction cups pegged to many of the windows. One of
her big time consuming projects was a set of ornaments that she con- Another time, while at school, Jane used the Impala to go home early
structed for Aunt Jean around the theme of the song, “The Twelve to prepare for work. Later, Jane called the school to have Tony paged
Days Of Christmas”. Tony recalls helping Mom draw out the designs to the office phone. Jane told him the car had a flat tire and she needed
for some of the objects to be sure there was sufficient glass color space help with it. Tony asked her where the car was. Jane told him it was
between the lead. The idea of the comfort of the garage was also to be beside the road. Tony asked again if she was sure that it was only a
able to routinely self check the oil level in the cars out of the rain and tire problem, or if he needed to ask a friend with a pickup to help him
elements, but that never happened until the oil light appeared in the retrieve the car. Jane said, “Just a flat tire!” Jane had already walked
dash. Oops, poor Amy! home, so Tony went to retrieve the car thinking he’d just change the
flat tire and drive it to the house. What he found though, was that the
Most of us started to learn to drive on the farm, either on the home car was on the far side of the ditch in a wheat field, had two flat tires,
farm or working for someone else. As youngster’s we would drive and one of the wheels was bent upward almost parallel to the car, so
tractor for hauling hay, and some of us graduated to driving trucks for the only thing he could do was call a tow truck.
hay or silage harvest. Consequently, when it came to trying for our
driver’s licenses, the main help we needed from Mom was coaching
on parallel parking and starting and stopping on steep inclines. Mom
was an expert at both, having driven to Portland to work in her Mom’s “I drove it <the Ranchero> maybe
printing shop as a teenager and stopping and starting on the hills of
West Linn and Oregon City. We all remember Mom driving up and
three times, from way over in the
down the steep hills when we would go to visit Aunt Jean and family. front yard to in front of the garage,
All of the farm vehicles we had driven were manual transmission, as then into the garage to grind, then
were our first cars, so driving a stick was never a problem. It was when
Tony bought a used blue 1965 Chevrolet Impala with an automatic
way back over to the front yard
transmission that a minor problem occurred. Joyce needed to drive again. That was some thrilling driv-
to work and Mom was late getting back with the family car, so Joyce
decided to take the Impala. She hopped in, pushed in the brake, then ing!
shifted the transmission lever into reverse like she was accustomed to

142 Taming The Monster Castle For Amy 143


Tony passed the Impala onto the family and bought a red Datsun 510 may have been a little miscommunication in that Mom expected me
during a gas crisis, hoping for significantly improved fuel economy. As to take it for a test drive. I’m pretty sure she ended up paying to have
it turned out, the Datsun got about the same economy as the Impala, it towed away.”
but with half the horse power, so he always had to take the slow lane
when climbing hills. When Tony went to Egypt, he loaned the car to And Ken recalls working on the ‘61 Ford Falcon Ranchero saying, “I
Uncle Farag and Aunt Peggy who were visiting from Kuwait for the spent many a half hour grinding on its rusty fender in preparation for
summer. After they returned to the Middle East, John started driving a sparkly apple-red paint job. I think Tony and I went in together to
it and Mom suggested that he buy it from Tony. He did, and shortly purchase a Craftsman power grinder, my first power tool. It wasn’t the
thereafter, he had the first of two no-fault accidents with that car. The right tool for the job, but it sure could grind. Those were the days. I
first happened only a couple of weeks later when he was broadsided drove it maybe three times, from way over in the front yard to in front
when his friend, Brian Peters, suggested he make a U-turn in Forest of the garage, then into the garage to grind, then way back over to the
Grove, so according to John, “Obviously that one wasn’t my fault, and front yard again. That was some thrilling driving! If only we had kept
State Farm was nice enough to fix that ouchie, so I was good to go up on the work, overhauled the engine, and done some other stuff, it
for almost another year.” Regarding the second incident, apparently would be worth about $21,000 today.”
John didn’t have the same problem as Tony getting the little Datsun to
climb hills and go around sharp curves at high velocity. He returned On a routine basis, Mom buzzed all the boy’s hair with a clippers using
home with it after a drive up on Skyline with a flat top and smashed the finest attachment. She made a pretty quick job of getting through
in driver’s side. John claims that one wasn’t his fault either, claim- all four plus Dad and did it without taking any ears or leaving scars.
ing, “That accident occurred not too long after I had overheard Tony Jim once pleaded Mom to give him a Mohawk, maybe it was the time
telling Mom that there is nothing wrong with using marijuana. It’s he was learning his favorite piano piece, The War Dance. Mom finally
harmless.” Tony declined to comment. caved and gave him what he wanted. The next day at school though,
Jim was sent home early. The nuns told him the haircut was unaccept-
John viewed the Datsun more or less as a red blob that got him (and able, and he couldn’t come back until his hair grew out. Then, the rest
his friends) to where he needed to go until it suddenly morphed and of the boys pleaded to get a Mohawk too, but Mom promptly buzzed
was no longer fit for that. His passion, however, remained with his Jim’s all off and sent him back to school the next day.
first car. According to John, “Mom was looking to expand the family’s
arsenal of cars so the kids could get to and from work on their own. Margaret recalls spending hours sitting on the sink while Mom pains-
She had heard from her cousin Armand Grossenbacher of a car for takingly curled her hair using her fingers and spit. Margaret said,
sale near Newberg for only $50. Since I was a newly licensed driver, “That was my idea of torture, but at least I was quiet about it, unlike
she took me along to get it. We drove out to a home in rural Newberg, some other long haired sister who screamed bloody murder every time
and when we arrived, I saw a rusty old Ford Ranchero that was prob- a comb came anywhere near her head.”
ably the biggest piece of junk I’d ever seen. Mom asked if I wanted
to drive it, so I said I would. It actually started and ran, but barely. I For a number of years, Mom participated in a National Family Opin-
headed for home, knowing Mom would be following behind in case it ion survey where she would receive questionnaires in the mail that
stalled on the way. I did make it all the way home, but Mom didn’t ar- she would often involve the kids to help her answer. Occasionally,
rive until much later. She said she waited a long time for me to return, she would receive boxes of generically labeled products that we got
and when I didn’t, she had to pay them for the clunker. It seems there to sample as well and give our opinion. Jane remembers Mom oc-

144 Taming The Monster Castle For Amy 145


casionally receiving a Do-It-Yourself gift from them as a ‘thanks for
participating’ and the kids were involved in putting it together. The
letters, surveys, and newsletters were always signed by Carol Adams,
who we started to think of as a family friend. As it turned out, it was a
pseudonym for Clara Trumbull, who was the wife of the owner of the
survey company. Would we have been equally receptive to the surveys
had we known it was not really Carol for whom we were sampling?
And would we have relied so heavily on the Betty Crocker Cook Book
if we knew she wasn’t a real person? Also, during those years, the pre-
Amazon mail order era, she got regular visits from a local Fuller Brush
Man representative who would sell quite an assortment of brooms,
cleaning supplies, and all sorts of bottle washing brushes delivered to
our door.

The bottle brushes, in particular, were employed in a multitude of


applications. Of course, there were the baby bottles that needed to
be cleaned. Then there were narrow mouthed canning jars that one
couldn’t get a hand inside to do a thorough cleaning, the milking
machine parts and pieces that routinely needed to be sanitized, and
1978. Mom leveling batter boards for the garage foundation.
there was a large collection of brown, quart beer bottles that frequently
needed to be washed. Those bottles were typically used by Dad for
bottling up his home brews, but on occasion, Mom would use some
of them to make batches of root beer, the infrequent times that we
would get to drink pop in the house. One time, John and Tony snuck
a couple of beer bottles that were in the outside refrigerator and took
them into the nearby woods to drink with some neighbors. The laugh
was on the little robbers because it turned out to be bottled root beer
instead!

Margaret recalls one incident when she watched Mom babysitting a


young VanDomelen girl (not of the neighbor’s family), and the little
girl started throwing up. She sat on the couch and Mom kept bring-
ing her fresh towels to puke in (no old puke bowl for her; she got fresh
towels!) and cups of water to rinse. This went on for what seemed like
hours. Margaret said, “I was so amazed with Mom’s patience, as this
girl was non stop drinking and puking. I asked Mom why she kept
giving her water, and she said that maybe she just needed something

146 Taming The Monster Castle For Amy 147

1973. Mom playing bass guitar at Bill Reichow’s wedding


in her stomach to throw back up.”

In 1973, Mom organized the kids to sing in a folk group for her friend
Elizabeth Reichow’s son, Bill. In the early years we lived close to the
Reichow’s, and Elizabeth would often baby sit the kids. ( Jane recalls
Elizabeth’s large wood-burning cook stove in the corner of the kitch-
en, and Tony remembers Mom giving Elizabeth’s daughter, Jeanne,
tips on riding her Tennessee Walker horse that was in the pasture be-
hind the house. Also, Jim remembers one of Mom’s visits to Elizabeth
when the kids were playing upstairs. Joyce somehow fell out of the
upstairs window, and Vincent jumped out after her and broke his arm.
(Apparently he was the first one to fall for Joyce.) At the wedding
service, Mom played electric bass that she inherited - together with a
water bed – when one of our St. Francis Folk group members left for
Canada to homestead. The interesting thing at the wedding reception
was that they served all processed food from Reeses Company, where
the newlyweds both worked. Tony recalled everything had lots of may-
onnaise, and it mostly tasted like potato salad!

In the spring of 1975, Mom drove the five younger kids and Dad up
to Seattle to see Joyce graduate with honors from Seattle University.
In addition to the ceremony, perhaps as a reward for the kids sitting
still for so many hours, she took everyone out for canoe rides on Lake
Washington, followed by ice cream for all. According to Joyce, “All
the kids loved it. I’m sure it was everyone’s first time in a canoe…lots
of splashing back and forth and racing each other in the four canoes
that Mom rented.”

148 Taming The Monster Castle For Amy 149


1975. Mom with family at Joyce’s Seattle University graduation.
1938 1939
1934 1935

1936

1940. Mom making mudpies with Phil & Carl. 1943

1938. Mom riding horse with her father.

150 Taming The Monster Castle For Amy 151


1938. Mom riding horse with her mother. Mom’s childhood home in West Linn from 1939. 1942. Carl, Phil, Jean, Mom.
1944. Mom, Phil, Carl. 1947. Carl, Phil, Mom.

1949. Mom with Rodney. 1950. Mom’s senior portrait.

1949. Mom at the fair. 1947. Phil, Carl, Jean, Grandma, Peggy, Mom. 1951. Mom with Flicka. 1951. Mom, Grandma’s marriage to Ken Miller.

152 Taming The Monster Castle For Amy 153


1948. Nancy Smith and Mom. 1949. Mom high school senior. 1952. Phil, Grandma, Carl, Peggy, Mom, Great Grandma Cunningham, Jean.
1955. Phil, Mary, Jean, Grandma, Peggy, Ken, Carl.
1953. Mom and Dad’s wedding. 1953. Mom opening wedding gifts.

1958. Peggy, Mom, Dad. 1955. Grandma, Joyce, Jim, Mom, Jean.
1953. Grandma, Mom holding Joyce.

154 Taming The Monster Castle For Amy 155

1954. Dad, Mom with Joyce. 1954. Mom with Joyce. 1963. Jim, Dad, Jane, Mom with Margaret, Ken, John, Joyce, Tony. 1964. Language course.
Wedding Plan-
ner Extraordinaire
Mom became quite proficient at sewing wedding and bridesmaids
dresses; however, her Aunt Lilly once snorted that she cheats and
uses a sewing machine. (Aunt Lilly was a seamstress who did ev-
erything by hand.) In 1974, Mom sewed a wedding dress for our
cousin Charmel Evers. She also did all of the bridesmaids dress-
es in addition to planning the wedding and reception dinner.

Charmel said, “She did the whole wedding. I remember her taking
me to get the invitations and arranging for the wedding photographer
(I never did get the pictures made and only have the proofs.) I was
worried about the cost since I was limited to $1000 for the whole wed-
ding”. Your Mom said, “Don’t worry, your Dad can afford it!” Charmel
recalled, “I knew she was doing Dad’s bookkeeping at the time. We
went to Lloyd Center to get shoes. I found the cheapest white sandals

156 Taming The Monster Wedding Planner Extraordinaire 157

1975. Mom sewing Joyce’s wedding dress.


I could find...$3.95. One of my sisters spent $12 on hers. Your Mom scrapbook and frequently reviewing it. Tony remembers Mom re-
made or had the Aunt help make all the dresses. We had potluck turning with a teeny-weeny bag of reddish-orange colored dust that
at the reception. She even drove me to my doctor’s appointment.” she said was saffron. With the coloring, she cooked up a batch of
paella for the family to experience, one of the favorite dishes she
Charmel reminisced, “Aunt Mary was always there to talk to me (and enjoyed while in Spain (Aunt Adele said they bought the Saffron
my sisters) about being a woman. I always felt loved and appreciat- in the local market. It was not expensive there like in the states.)
ed. She never put me down or made sarcastic remarks. Your Dad
was great that way also. I always felt safe around him. He was a In 1987 after Mom and Mike got married, she invited Susanne and
real gentlemen, and your Mom is a classy lady. Now that I am old- Tony to join them on a trip to Maui, Hawaii. (As it turned out, Su-
er, I realize how important she was to me growing up. I also val- sanne came down with chicken pox, so wasn’t able to join them.)
ued the time I got to spend with all of her children. I always knew Mike wasn’t very fond of water, but Mom coached him on swim-
I could count on her even if I didn’t want to bother her to ask.” ming, and spent a lot of time in the pool next to the apartment;
then, eventually he braved the waves and went on a snorkeling ex-
In 1975, Mom helped Joyce create her wedding dress and the brides- pedition. It was Mom who got a bit of a scare though: while she
maids dresses. Years later she worked together with Joyce to create was floating along thoroughly enjoying the colorful fish with her
Maria’s, too. Joyce said, “It was delightful actually; great team work. snorkel gear, she all of a sudden found that the current had placed
With Maria’s wedding gown, she brought her sewing machine, so we her a half a mile away from the glass-bottomed tour boat. After
set them both up along with an ironing board in the dining room, the initial panic, she managed to swim back to the rest of the group.
and worked so well together to create layer on layer with no pattern.
(Cats get into those...and they are expensive, so I tend to avoid them!)” Later, Mom would get Mike into the water again when John and Tony
took them rubber rafting down the Deschutes River in Maupin, one of
In 1983, Mom got to renew her passport and travel to Spain to stay their frequent weekend summer hang-outs. Before they boarded the
with Uncle Carl and Aunt Adele. They rented a summer cottage in raft, everyone suited up with life jackets, then John lectured that the
Estepona, Spain, on the Southern Coast (Costa del Sol) between Mal- most important thing was not to lose the oars. He explained, “Whatever
aga and Gibraltar where Mom got to spend time with her brother and happens, do not let go of the oar.” The raft was overturned going down
wife and their young daughter, Lee. Mom remembers having a very one of the rapids and Mom and Mike went free-flowing down the river.
enjoyable visit and still comments about the strings of white houses on They finally drifted to the river bank when Mike stood on solid ground
the sloping hills all covered with red ceramic tiles. Aunt Adele recalls and declared with his arm and oar in the air, “Look, we saved the oars.”
that it was a pleasure to have Mom visit that summer while they were
on sabbatical, and that she was delighted with and interested in every- An autumn trip to the East Coast in 1995 to visit Tony placed Mom
thing that she saw and did. She said, “They visited a number of notable in the middle of a dramatic foliage display, where she and Mike
sights, and in particular, the local market that she was fascinated with. went on a vintage train ride through the Pocono Mountains. They
Mary always had a big smile or grin on her face. It was a delightful time.” also went to New York City to see Julie Andrews perform on Broad-
way in Victor Victoria. Later they headed to Washington DC and
According to Jane, Mom came back very impressed with how Un- strolled around the Nation’s Monuments. Tony recalls being sur-
cle Carl and Aunt Adele worked with Lee to help her appreciate prised at the lack of traffic leading to the capital, and they were able
all the daily adventures she was experiencing by putting together a to arrive in no time driving from his village in Lambertville, New

158 Taming The Monster Wedding Planner Extraordinaire 159


Jersey. When they got there, they understood why: That was the
day of the Million Man March, so all of the attendees arrived early
to participate in the march, while the rest of the white folk avoided
the capital that day. Furthermore, since the million marchers were
all grouped in the center mall listening to speakers, the whole cap-
ital was wide open for them to explore with no waiting in queues.

160 Taming The Monster Wedding Planner Extraordinaire 161

1985. Mom rafting the Deschutes with Mike and Tony.


Taming The
Monster
Margaret reminisces one rare sunny Easter when she had all the family
over for an Egg Hunt and dinner. She had lots of activities for the kids
to do, and delegated all the cooking tasks to anyone but herself, but the
men in the group seemed to be under utilized. While Mom was looking
out her kitchen window, she asked Margaret what her plans were for the
front area below a tree. Margaret told her that she dreamt of a fenced
in garden with flowers and bird houses. Margaret said, “Before I could
even blink, Mom had all the guys loaded up with tools and banished
to the woods to bring her lots of trees. In a matter of an hour or two,
she had orchestrated the construction of a beautiful rustic Easter fence
that made doing dishes so much more enjoyable for years to come.”

Aunt Peggy commented, “Besides giving of her own time to others in


need, Mary had a gift for organizing work parties to extend the range

162 Taming The Monster Taming The Monster 163

2003. Mom on the Astro Orbiter at Disneyland.


of her benevolence. For example, when I mentioned once that Farag she came off as a person looking for drugs, which in fact she was,
and I couldn’t move our heavy China hutch back to its original place but they were not interested in giving her the Demerol shot in the
after our dining room had been painted, she immediately dispatched butt that had cured her other headaches. Margaret explained, “So
John and Mike O. On another occasion when Farag had a question for instead of a few days of misery, my headache took over my system
Mike Z. about installing an underground sprinkling system, she quick- for almost 2 weeks. Thankfully, Mom was willing to kidnap the two
ly offered for her and Mike to come the following week to show him youngest, so I could focus on dying peacefully in my silent, darkened
how it’s done and help him with the whole job. Also, two times when bedroom. Eventually the pain subsided and Mom brought the boys
Farag and I were desperate to find a plumber, Mary dispatched Ken.  back. While she only had them for a week, they both were happy
The second time when Ken was off in Europe, she sent John. And an- to show me that Grandma had taught them to read. Dallas proudly
other time, when Farag mentioned to Mary that he needed to extract recited Green Eggs and Ham verbatim, and would probably hap-
some information from an older computer hard drive, she sent Tony.” pily do it still, if asked. They had so many great stories of Grand-
ma’s adventures to share they didn’t seem to have missed me at all.”
Aunt Peggy also recalled when Aunt Thelma was the recipient of Mary’s
generous volunteering with helper or helpers.  Peggy said, “Mary re- Mom went to Chile to visit Tony in December 2002. He had just
cruited a rather large workforce to clear Aunt Thelma’s roof off to ready settled into his two-story penthouse apartment, and Mom and Mike
it for new shingles.  She, Mike Z and Mike O, John, Phil, Ken, myself, arrived just in time to help Tony host his company Christmas party
and perhaps others I don’t remember.  Similarly, when Aunt Thelma there. Mom impressed the group by playing some Christmas tunes on
was facing a long winter, Mary got Phil to help unload and stack her the baby grand piano. After the party, Tony drove them down to Cen-
carload of cut wood.  Then, there was the project to paint the inside tral Chile to the Lakes Region where they stayed in a guest house sur-
of Aunt Thelma’s house.   For this she found Susanne to be a willing rounded by thermal springs and spent the day bathing in spas. They
participant.  This job was perhaps one of the most challenging, but toured the Villarica volcano, walking through some of the giant un-
painting was not the problem.  Other times during the house painting derground tunnels that remained from the lava flowing down the hill.
party, Mary dispatched Ken to move or haul away various treasures.” Tony recalls driving in the Pucon area pointing on the left side of the
car, “Hey look, take a picture of that volcano. There’s steam coming out
Aunt Peggy continued, “Mary also helped Margaret with her tax- of it, while Mike grasped the camera taking pictures of the right side
es for numerous years as well as her company’s payroll. Mary has saying, “Look, there’s a 1996 Nissan car model I’ve never seen before.”
also volunteered to assist others financially.  In the hopes of giv-
ing Mike’s grandson the chance for a better life, she and Mike Mom had never been to Disneyland before and was interested in going
paid to put him in a good Christian school. There are probably nu- with kids, so John and family invited her to join them in 2003. They
merous other examples that I’m not aware of. When Mary saw a flew down for a few days of rides at Disneyland and Disney’s Califor-
need, and she had the means to help or find a way to help, she did.” nia Adventure theme park. John said, “Mom opted out of the bigger
thrill rides at Disneyland, but joined us for a number of rides that al-
Margaret recalled that when she first moved out to her place in Or- lowed her to keep her lunch, like the Astro Orbiter ride. We all got
egon City, she hadn’t gotten around to setting herself up with a doc- to enjoy a ride through Storybook Land, which was a boat ride along
tor, so when she was hit with a debilitating headache, she wasn’t get- a canal with quaint miniature villages and towns from storybooks that
ting much support from the clinics and emergency rooms that she we thought would be nice for the little kids. During that ride, I saw a
went to. Joyce explained that since she didn’t have a regular doctor, mother duck with a trail of tiny ducklings coming down the hill of one

164 Taming The Monster Taming The Monster 165


of the villages, so I pointed them out to our group.  Just as the others
turned to see the cute little ducklings, a large crow landed and violent-
ly attacked the last little duckling.  Walt would not have approved!”             

At Disney’s California Adventure theme park, Mom enjoyed Soar-


ing Over California, and hopping aboard a raft for a white water
trip down the Grizzly River Run.  After catching air on a Bugs Life
ride and taking in a 3D show at California Adventure’s Bug Land,
Mom and John spotted a farm tractor exhibit, which seemed en-
tirely out of place in an amusement park.  John recalled, “We were
entirely intrigued, but for some reason the kids weren’t too excited
about us spending time checking out the latest farm equipment.” 

John added that they also spent a day seeking out even more thrill rides
for the kids at Knott’s Berry Farm, after which they went to the Medieval
Times castle for a dinner show complete with jousting and sword fights,
along with enough horse riding to keep Mom entertained.  John said,
“The dinner included a feast without utensils, so we didn’t have to worry
about Mom stabbing us with a fork when we put our elbows on the table.”

1998. Mom at Joel and Lauren’s birthday party. In 2005, Mom went to another Attia wedding, this time Aunt Peggy and
Uncle Farag’s daughter Sandy’s, that was held in Bressanone, Italy. In
preparation for the trip, she took an Italian class, and later at the recep-
tion gave a toast to Sandy and Mateo in Italian. Following the wedding,
Mom and Mike toured Florence and Rome. There, they used a digital
camera for taking snapshots of all their sight seeing. Unfortunately, the
memory card didn’t work when they got home, and they weren’t able
to download any of the photos, so most of those memories are gone.

Mom reported in her 2012 annual Christmas letter that she and
Mike were able to add 5.71 acres of scrub brush and trees to their
existing pasture area. She said that she was enjoying, ‘taming
the monster’, and attacked the first third of the land in the spring.

Tony visited Mom’s farm in September 2016 and commented, “I


was impressed by all of the work she had done to get the large an-
nexed piece cleared, fenced, and operational. I was there while Mom

166 Taming The Monster Taming The Monster 167

2003. Mom with John’s family at Disneyland.


Dear Jane and Tony, at the kitchen table just enjoying the hors d’oeuvres and chatting.  Poor
Jim was there too, just trying to enjoy himself in spite in those horrible
I’ve been meaning to write to you since Easter Sunday, but work shingles that have attacked him recently.  It was a sight to behold.
got in the way.  I must say, your presence was felt at your Mom’s
house in spirit, but you really needed to be there in the flesh to ad- Meanwhile, outside, Easter eggs were being colored and hunted by
mire the sights, sense the excitement of the kids and adults and en- excited little ones, squealing with delight under the watchful eye of
joy the flavors of the wonderful array of hors d’oeuvres, main dishes the talented organizers.  (Margaret and I’m not sure who else because
and desserts that all went into making the fabulous feast that day. unfortunately I didn’t make it out there as I was stuffing my face with
the samosas.) Farag, however, did go outside to see the excitement,
As soon as Farag and I got out of the car, we were greeted by beautiful, and see how Mike Z was doing. He found him proudly overlook-
meticulously lined up flowers all nested into a bed of freshly laid red- ing his domain, and eager to show Farag the new developments out-
dish bark dust that lined the pathways to the house.  Then, there was side.  He and Mary have done so much to be proud of out there. 
the happy little herd of sheep guarded by the lofty llama munching Farag felt that things have really changed out in the back since he
contentedly in the front pasture.  They were surrounded by the most was there before.  He saw more buildings, some of which had been
perfect fence we had ever seen making it a peaceful, idyllic setting. moved, more flowers, more animals, more fences, more land, more
evidence of so much more work having been done, and all the while
As we opened the front door, it was as if we were entering a small all of it looked just as neat and tidy as the inside of the house.  How
country restaurant promising to offer home-cooked meals.  There were do they do that?  Tony, it looks like you have learned the secret!
five (if my memory serves me well) neat, white linen-covered tables, all
positioned equidistantly apart, and all bedecked with shining silver- If only you two could have been with us.  I never cease to be
ware, white plates and a lovely bouquet of colorful flowers in the center. amazed at what your Mom can do on her own, with Mike, and
also with all of her little chicks around her helping.  Thank you
Beyond the tables in the living room, our eyes and ears turned to the Mary and Mike and all the wonderful family who gathered togeth-
scene in the bustling kitchen.  As we walked beside the tables and er and pitched in (Ken, the furniture mover) on that beautiful day!
approached the heart of Mary and Mike’s house, we could hear laugh-
ter and see a swarm of worker bees all dancing around each other Love to you all,
while opening and closing the oven door, peeking into the refrigerator,
searching in the cupboards all in perfect harmony.  Others were posi- Peggy
tioned at stations, cutting the ham and lamb (Mike the carver), prepar-
ing the fruit and vegetable plates (Erin), laying out a beautiful fan of
bright green asparagus on a pure white platter ( Joyce), and stuffing the
most delicious deviled eggs (Susanne, the eggspert) while at the center -Letter written to Jane and Tony, April 2015
of all this was Mary flitting here and there making sure everyone had
the right utensil, wiping up this and that,sometimes running to other
parts of the house to show me, for example, something on the comput-
er and carefully making sure all was going like clockwork and staying
clean and orderly at the same time.  There were a few lucky ones sitting

168 Taming The Monster Taming The Monster 169


was hosting her granddaughter Samantha’s ‘going away to England’
party and was so thrilled to see so many generations of kids thoroughly
enjoying her farm, the assortment of animals and many activities.”

In October 2016, Mom again opened her farm for her great grand-
daughter, Anika’s birthday party. Anika’s mother, Maria wrote, “You
are all the best family ever! The kids definitely thought the hay fort
was amazing - that was the clear winner for fun factor - thank you Un-
cle Kenny! And to Margaret, party-planner extraordinaire - you are al-
ways amazingly fun and innovative. The cupcake cow was fabulous too.
A special thanks to my Mom and to Susanne for behind-the-scenes
support. But of course, it would have all been nothing without the
amazing venue - thanks Grandma and Mike for so joyfully allowing
us to invade your space. We all learned that farm chores are so fun.”

There was never a question whether Mom would be able


to ‘tame the monster’. After all, she started her farm proj-
ect with a solid resume that included taming eight monsters.

170 Taming The Monster Taming The Monster 171

1995. Mom bottle feeding a lamb with Joel.


172 Taming The Monster