Monday, January 14, 2013

When My Mom Came Out West

I have had this idea for quite sometime to tell about the story of when my mom came out west. For a few years it has been popping in and out of my head. Every time I think about it I shoot the idea down... why would anybody want and need to hear this story except for a family member? Then I think to myself someone in the world of vintage might like it, even if only just for nostalgia sake. So here we go, on with the story, I hope someone likes it!

The year is 1943, the war is on and my mom is 11 years old. At that time she was living with her mom and dad (my grandparents) and her younger brother (my uncle) in Indiana. They decided they needed a change so they packed up everything in their Airstream Trailer (which I nicknamed the Silver Bullet) and drove across the United States to Portland Oregon. They parked the Silver Bullet in a trailer park (this park was on 82nd and Division Street at the time) and took up residence there for a while.

My grandpa was a shoe maker, he used to make clogs-the ones that are closed in the back-with a wooden sole for the Rosie the Riveters that worked at the shipyards in Portland. My mom said some of the Rosie the Riveters lived in the trailer park and that they were real nice ladies. My grandpa made clogs in every color under the sun, for my mom to go with all of her outfits. When my mom was 14 years old she started high school at Franklin High the clogs were quite popular in the North West at that time and she found most kids to be envious because she had clogs in every color. When some of the kids found out she lived in a trailer park some of them called her trailer trash (imagine that back in those days referring to someone as trailer trash!), I think they were just jealous of her huge clog collection!

When my mom was 15 years old halfway through her sophomore year in high school her parents bought a house and small farm in a tiny town called Willamina (which was even further out west in Oregon). Then she started high school at Sheridan High, she says she remembers sack dresses being all the rage in Portland (the big city). All of the girls thought she was quite ahead of the times and fashionable because she was wearing the sack dresses with her handy dandy clogs! The sack dresses had not hit the town of Willamina yet! This was when she met my dad, at first they were just friends. Then they started dating when my mom was 16 and my dad was almost 18 (in 1948). My mom graduated from high school in 1950, that was when my dad joined the army and fought in the Korean War. In 1953 my mom and dad got married on July 3rd. The Korean War finally ended and my dad was out of the army and a free man!

My mom and dad were high school sweet hearts and were married for 56 years until my dad passed away in 2009. My mom is still alive and lives on the Oregon Coast and will be 81 in May of this year. I did a blog post with a picture of her back in October:

Here I am dressed up like a Rosie the Riveter with my clogs sitting on my grandpa's trunk from when he was in the Merchant Marines. 




MistressCatgirl said...

What a lovely story! I love hearing about people's lives and how/where they established their families.
Kids can be cruel. When I was younger we were pretty poor and depended on school programs for new clothes. One time, my mom was looking for cans to recycle when some of my classmates happen uposn us and started calling us "trash diggers." It really hurt but I wasn't really embarrassed. We weren't stealing from anyone. All those experiences make me more grateful for new clothes and items.

Haute Rockabilly Fashionista said...

What a lovely and romantic family story.


Julie said...

Loved reading this! I remember you talking about the clogs yeeeears ago on the FL! Do you have any pictures of your mom in this era? EVERYONE WANTS TO SEE THEM!

Anonymous said...

Nice Pic Brooksie... (I remember when it was taken) You always have been a gorgeous vintage model, as well as a beautiful person! I hope life is treating you well.