Follow by Email


Sunday, October 31, 2010


STUMP RANCH HOUSE AS IT LOOKS IN 2010 FROM ED's HOUSE ACROSS THE OLD DIRT ROAD. Mother Bought 5 Lots (where the camera sits for this Pic) in 1935 for $25.00 each...from the King County Courthouse...lots were repossessed by the County during the Great Depression for prior Owner non-payment of it goes....
JIM & ME'S BEDROOM WINDOW (Upper Center), Looking from 2-Holer OutHouse Location).

By the way, in 1939, While Doing My Business, I Slipped Backwards Through the "Hole" into the Poop Below. I Screamed for Mother, Who Heard Me Clear In The Kitchen, Came Running & Pulled Me Out. Yuck Yuck She said She had just Thrown a Bunch of Newspapers into the Pit...Yeah, Sure !! I was more scared of the Spiders under there than the Poop.

STUMP RANCH HOME AS IT STANDS IN 2010. 1945 Home ended at Chimney. Water Well was 25 feet from front left corner (to camera's right). Upstairs Window (left) is JIM & ME's Room. Home was built in 1930's from lumber salvaged shipping crates for Boeing B-17 Bomber Wings.. Bomber # 500 was signed by all Boeing Employees. Mother's name was on fusalage next to starboard (right hand side) waist gunner window. I visited that Bomber during 1942 "open house" at Boeing lost and walked 5 miles to Mom Brockman's home. Wonder where # 500 B-17 is now?

UPSTAIRS ROOM OF JIM & ME. Window is Behind Derek's Bed. We piddled into wall studs next to window, smelling up Closet below = Cat-O-Nine Tails once again. Finally got an inside toilet and bath tub in 1942.

STAIRS TO ROOMS OF JAY, JIM & ME...Jay's Room on Right

KITCHEN & STAIRWAY TO ROOMS OF JAY, JIM & ME. No upstairs floors...had to hop on Floor Rafters to Get to Our Beds.

LIVING ROOM - Front Door on Left...Oil Heater installed in 1942 where camera took pic. Before that, No Heat in the House. Fireplace installed many years after we moved away in 1945

MASTER BEDROOM CLOSET - Stinky from Jim & My piddle from above.

HALL WITH BATH( Right) AND MASTER BEDROOM (open door) & LIVING ROOM (left). Bath was installed in 1942. Everyone used 2-holer Out House 'til then.

KITCHEN...I put a $0.50 piece under that Sink Cabinet when original was installed in 1939.

KITCHEN STOVE AREA - In 1939, Wood/Coal Burning Iron Stove with newly-installed heating coils in fire box to heat water, froze, and EXPLODED, blasting Iron Lids into the ceiling and dumping my Sitz-It Bath Tub of COLD water over me sitting in chair where cabinet now stands next to the electric stove.

GARAGE WINDOW PANE- Top Left Pane Broken Out by Jay's Fist in 1943 (During fit of anger)

STUMP RANCH GARAGE - & Derek - Garage has a "Service Pit" under the floor

CAT-O-NINE TAILS ROCK - Cemented In Vertical Crack in 1942

DEREK HOMER - "This Is MY Home Now"

DES MOINES GRADE SCHOOL - Trees Kinda Block View of Puget Sound (behind camera)


MASONIC RETIREMENT HOME - Jim/Me Bicycle Playground in 1940's


DES MOINES FIELD HOUSE - Land of My Prarie Dreams

Driving South on I-5 from Bellingham, the sky was clear. Our local Volcano, Mt. Baker, was majestic, standing tall surrounded by empty blue; the 3 Sisters kneeling, looking up at her from the Southern expanse of the Cascade Range.

Traffic was light as I passed Burlington and the new highway heading west to Anacortes and the San Juan Island Ferries. Climbing out of the Skagit River Valley, The Tulip Capital of America, clouds were forming in the distant South, already blanking out the Southern peaks of the Olympic Mountains bordering the Pacific Ocean to the SouthWest. New snow dotted many of the visible peaks, adding compliment to the 10 Resident Olympic Mountain Glaciers.

Another 15 miles to Stillaguamish River Valley, black clouds rose up, blotting out the blue sky over Seattle, 60 miles to the South.

What had started out as a beautiful Saturday morning in Northern Puget Sound rapidly turned into a blinding downpour. I was on my way to The Stump Ranch at DES MOINES, 20 miles South of Seattle, where I lived the first 9 years of my life. I forgot to put a new battery in my LUMIX Panasonic DMC-TZ5 pocket camera which was showing only two of the four battery bars available. Stupid, stupid; and I had the new battery in my hand moments before leaving Bellingham...and left it sitting on my (this) computer desk.

Too far to return to Bellingham, I continued South on I-5 as traffic increased in the rain now pounding the Van. On my return from Denver last week, both windshield wipers had developed broken rubber tips. (get new ones at my next oil change). They now screeched metal against glass leaving curved streaks as they swept back and forth trying to clear a spot from the bow waves thrown up by passing 18-wheelers. I slowed down, moved to the right hand lane and kept driving.

The reversable lanes starting at Northgate were OPEN to South traffic. I took them to avoid the ever increasing traffic jams where I-5 ducked through Seattle's mid-down tunnels. 20 minutes later I passed by South Center and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Two exits later, I took the off-ramp onto the KENT-DES MOINES Highway at Midway (half-way between Seattle and Tacoma). I turned South on US 99 to 240th; turned right past the Community College and left onto 24th, a dead-end street.

24th is a wide residential street, sidewalks on both sides. Homes standing shoulder to shoulder
on both sides of the street all the way to the Dead-End.

On May 5th, 1945 Dad drove up the dusty dirt track to the Big Road, jogging left and right to avoid the many 5-foot diameter Cedar stumps standing in the way. We were leaving our Stump Ranch for our new life in KENNEWICK, Washington, 250 miles to the East, where the Snake River flowed into the Columbia River at Sacajawea Park - named in honor of the Indian Maiden who guided Lewis & Clark as they made the first survey of the Pacific Northwest over 100 years before.

Except for Mike Lalley's home at the corner of The Big Road (240th) and our dirt track (24th), only the home of Nancy and Thelma Green joined the tiny shack which was to become my home. Dad's Model T Pickup truck carried me lying in a blanket lined apple box from my Grandma's home on Capital Hill in Seattle, where I was born on Mom Brockman's Dining Room Table two days before.

Four years later, Nancy and Thelma moved away to Indiana. Their vacant home burned to the ground a few weeks later, leaving our small but growing shack as the only home on the track.

My big Brother, Jay, looked after me most of the time. Dad, being a truck driver for Hemricks Beer (and later for Lee & Eastes) was gone most of the time. Before taking a job at the Boeing Airplane Factory, Mother, Jay, and I held down the fort so to speak. Jay, my half-Brother, came into the family when his Father Benton, married Mother, Leona Brockman (Tuttle) in 1934. I came into their lives on June 30, 1935.

In front of our home was a hand-dug well. It had a wooden hand-cranked rope hoist with a bucket. It was Jay's job to keep the water bucket full. Two Rainbow Trout swam around in the well - Dad said to keep bugs out of the water. Three really big Cedar Stumps nearly filled the space between the Well and the Dirt Track.

Out back was a garage for Dad's Model T and a small workshop with a work bench with a hand cranked vice on it. Beyond the Garage was the Pig Pen, with a Triangular Pig House. Beyond that, standing next to the dense woods and the trail leading to Highway 99 and Jense's Gas Station and Oil Refinery (re-refined used oil), was the cow-barn. To the left next to the trees was the Turkey House sitting inside a high wire fenced yard. To the left of the dirt driveway climbing up from the dirt track, sat the two-holer, our Out House.

These are the things I remember...when I first started to remember things at about 4 years old.
By that time, I had a little Brother, Jimmy James Edward Maynard. I became Jim's instant protector and buddy. From early on, we shared a small bed upstairs. When one of us did something bad, we both got whipped..."If you didn't do something bad, that is for when you do and I don't catch you"...Dad used to say. Jim got his own bed in 1948.

Our two Sisters, Carol and Milly, came along a few years later. Mother was then working every day at Boeing Airplane Factory in Seattle, so Carol and Mick were deposited with Mom Brockman every day on Mother's way to work. Mom Brockman and her brood of 12 children lived in South Seattle. A "ditch" ran in front of Mom's home. Mother's Brothers stood in the knee deep water under the driveway bridge and hand-caught huge King Salmon migrating up from the Duwamish River to spawn.

Mother often told about having to do her chores every morning, including milking our cow, as she did before rushing herself in the Model T to Mom's in Seattle to deposit me on Mom's Dining Room Table. It became ritual for Jay, Jim, and me - and our cat - to kneel round Mother's milk bucket as she stripped milk from the cow...two squirts for the bucket, one squirt for the cat; two squirts for the bucket, one squirt for Jay; two squirts for the bucket, one squirt for Jim...and yes, I also got my turn. Mother then poured the milk into a big flat pan sitting on the kitchen workbench. A few hours later, she skimmed the thick blanket of cream into a big square glass jar with a crank on top. It was my job to turn the churn handle cranking the four wooden paddles around inside until a big lump gathered. Mother took the lump of newly churned butter out and us boys got to drink the butter-milk. Yummm.

We used to tease the big sow (pig). We didn't mess with her any more after she had a litter of 14 piglets...and she ate all 14.

The Turkey House had a dozen or so Turkeys. It also was home to a few chickens and a roost for Dad's Carrier Pigeons. I was too young to remember, but Dad tells the story of selling his Pigeons three times before they stopped coming back to their roost. The Turkey House was a two story wooden building lined with Sapling Trees on the wooded side. Our great sport was to climb onto the roof, run and jump into space, grabbing hold of a Sapling and swinging to the ground...that all ended when Dad got out his Cat-O-Nine Tails, laid all three of over kitchen chairs, bare butts facing up, and gave us our usual 5 lashes.

Once Dad laid our butts bare, took out his "Cat" and slapped it on the back of the chairs until we were all three bawling, waiting for the stinging cat...which never came...Instead, Dad laid on the floor under our eyes, three War Bonds. ..."That's for being such a big help to you Mother and I"...

Jim and I one day found the "cat's" hiding place in the rafters above the cows milk stock (where the cow's head was held in place during milking). We took the "cat" to the big rock out by the edge of the woods, jammed it into the narrow crack with a long screw driver and cemented the crack over. Yesterday, 65 years later, I used my finger nail to scrape away some of the cement from that crack which was overgrown by moss. Dad, Jay, and Jim are all gone, but that "cat" is safe and sound in its hiding place.

For many years, Dad burned out the big Cedar Stumps in our front yard. Once in a while he helped the flames along by jamming a stick of dynamite into a crack above the fire and lit the fuse. The blast sent Cedar clear to the house, but the flames got bigger after each stick. Us boys had perpetual baked potatoes. We buried the potatoes around the edges of the hot coals & covered them with dirt. A couple days later, we retrieved them with a stick, wiped off the dirt, put them on a cedar plank, cut them open with a knife and slathered them with freshly churned butter.

We didn't have much, but somehow us boys always found something to eat as we spent Summer after Summer minding ourselves. Mother & Dad were both off working. Jay, Jim and I found jobs starting in 1941. Jay was 10. I was 6. Jim was 4. We walked from Home, out to the Big Road, over to the Kent-Des Moines Highway, down the Big Hill into the Kent Valley; a 5 mile trek. Next to the Green River were many small "Truck Farms"...mostly Japanese families with a one-crop farm. We went to work weeding, hoeing, and picking veggies all day every day until we moved away in 1945. As I said in my Bio, we liked Spinach and Peas best, but we were happy to work with Carrots, Potatoes, and Beans...all of which became our "lunch".

One day, walking up the Big Road (past what is today the main entrance to the Community College), we found a Five-Dollar Bill just lying in the road. In those days of World War II, one could buy a gallon of gasoline for $0.16, a big candy bar for $0.05, or a bottle of Coke for $0.05. Finding Five Dollars was like discovering the Mother Lode. We kept walking to work, but instead of stopping at the Spinach field, we walked 2 miles more to Downtown Kent. We went into a Five & Dime where we filled three big bags with candy, games, and toys (yoyo's etc.). We started walking back home, some 7 miles away. On the way, we were walking past a fenced in field with tents inside. A Soldier was standing at the gate guarding a pole blocking the entrance.
We asked him if he would like a candy he stripped the wrapper, a couple more soldiers walked over...want a candy bar...sure. We were invited into the camp. By the time we walked out again, our three bags were empty. We had given everything we bought to those soldiers. We went back to our Spinach Patch.

Never again did we find money on the highway. We did, however, find lots of cigarette butts.
It became fun to gather them up in a bag. We then broke off the burnt stub, lit them, and enjoyed our "smoke". A pack of cigarettes at Jense's Gas Station cost $0.21. A quarter got a pack, which was wrapped in cellophane. Under the cellophane were four Pennies change. Vaughn, about Jim's age, swiped a few things from his Dad's store, which we took into the woods down by the Oil Refinery to enjoy. Jim told me Vaughn liked Boys...I wasn't sure what he meant.

I started First Grade in September 1940. I had just turned 5. Mother said I pestered her so much that she finally enrolled me at Federal Way, where Jay was in the 4th Grade. When I enrolled, they threw both Jay and I out, saying we lived on the wrong side of the street and must go to school in Des Moines. Nancy and Thelma across the dirt path, went to Federal Way...I often wondered why Dad built our house on the wrong side of the street.

In First Grade, I loved AnnaMae M. So did Ralph S. We often had arguments over her. I really beat up Ralph that year. In the Third Grade, we both still loved AnnaMae - she refused to choose -. That year Ralph beat the crap out of me. He won her. As we often walked home from school together, I, as loser, had to stand guard while Ralph and AnnaMae went behind the big Rock. I never liked Ralph after that.

In Third Grade, we went to an Indian Show in the Field House behind the Des Moines Grade School. The Indians performed on the stage as we sat on the floor, legs crossed in front of us. I remember only one part of the show...when they sang an Indian Love Song...I remember verses one, three and four. I cannot pull verse two out of my goes:

"In the distance I see...a dear tepee...where my loved one is waiting for me...
"By the campfire she stands...with outstretched hands...where she's waiting and watching for me.
(Second verse goes here)
"Then away I will ride...with my Love by my side...and she soon my Bride will be...
"When Queen of the West, she will soon rule best...'Or the Land Of My Prairie Dreams..."

I often sing it to myself as I walk across America. Yesterday I visited the Field House, sat cross legged on the floor, climbed onto the Stage, and got tearie-eyed. Maybe I should have loved Evelyn T. instead.

Derek Homer lives in our Home on 24th. He took me into every room. I talked about the way it used to be...strangely, it's almost EXACTLY as it was a lifetime ago. The two added rooms made it a bit bigger, but the original was without change. Derek's Double Bed stood precisely where Jim and I slept...the open studs (where we tinkled down into Mother & Dad's closet below) were covered over with plaster board and the floor rafters were covered over too.

The lump I got in my throat yesterday hasn't completely gone away yet.

Monday, October 25, 2010





















Washington State has a little known Vacation Playground only a couple hours from Seattle. This Playground used to be the main highway - before I-90 and I-82 Freeway - between ELLENSBURG and YAKIMA, Washington, East of the Cascade Mountains on I-90. It is called The Yakima Canyon. The Yakima River runs thu it. Rainbow Trout fishing, I was told was great on Saturday as dozens of boats drifted with the slow moving current.

Driving SAM back from Denver, I decided to take the old Canyon Road. It was much as I remember it back in the 30's and 40's when top speed limit was about 35 mph and gas cost $0.16 a gallon. I vividly remember earning a penny a minute for scratching Dad's head as we drove along (YUCK).

I took it slow through the Canyon, stopping often to take pictures. I would like to share those pictures. To enlarge, double click the pics...I was told by a fisherman drifting by in his boat that there were a number of Big Horn Sheep on the steep slopes...I have looked, but have not found them.
One picture, BUM and BUMMER, is memorable as our baby lambs were purchased from a Ranch at the end of that road (I stopped, took the picture, and had a silent few words of rememberance). Little Brother, Jim - 2 years old, and I - 4 years old, were allowed to sleep with our lambs the first few nights...we shared a single bed in the unheated upstairs which had no floor...we had to hop from rafter to rafter to get to the bed. In the really cold months, we didn't bother to go down the stairs and outside to the two-holer (we had no running water)...we simply tinkled between the wall studs; that is until we both got switched with Willow branches for smelling up Mother & Dad's clothes closet below. In 1943, we got well water piped into the house and a toilet was installed.
BUM and BUMMER were served up with Potatoes & Dumplings in the Spring...we were still in the Great Depression and ate mostly what came from our Stump Ranch and the forest leading up the hillside to US 99.
In mid-Summer, we had a Wild Blackberry stand on US 99. We also took orders for Christmas Trees on Seattle's Queen Ann Hill during Thanksgiving at Mom Brockman's (Mother's Mother). We cut each tree for a specific order, but usually had to go back to cut another one because cars stopped us on US 99 and bought them as we dragged them home.
Jim and I worked since we were still babies - Jim was 4...I was 6 when we started work in the Kent Valley Japanese Truck Farms in the Summer of 1941. We had to walk 5 miles each way. Neither of us let a non-work day go by since. Brother Jim died in June 2008. I miss Jim.
Guess I should write a blog or two about our Stump Ranch. I am the only one still living who lived through those times on our Stump Ranch...and what times they were. Most everything we built still stands and is lived in to this day...OK...I'll drive down in the next week or so, take a bunch of pics, chat with the folks who live there now...then, share it all here on "Seniors".
It is now 7:00 am, the next day, Tuesday. I am astounded how the subject matter above has travelled. Started out as a trip report about the Yakima Canyon and WOW, where it ended up.
Don't know if this kind of transition is wise or appropriate. I just let my "fingers do the typing" and am amazed as what comes out. Seems to be how private conversations with friends go...start one place and end up on seemingly unrelated paths.
Reminds me of some of my writing instructors..."just write...write anything...just let the words flow...they will find their way...". Yeah, but how about sticking to the subject, fella.
Then again, on the umpteenth time re-reading this narrative, I find a thread from the Stump Ranch leading back to that lonely canyon road pictured in the BUM and BUMMER pic.
Snow is in the Mountains...made it home with SAM just in time.