Last Fall, Grandma and Grandpa started thinking about retirement as Grandpa would turn 65 this year. They both loved gardening and the outdoors so they talked to Mother and Dad about the possibility of buying a little ground from them for a retirement home. Mother and Dad decided it would be nice to have family around so they sold them the chicken house and the garden area they had been working. They had Nealis do the contractor work on the chicken house for a dining room, kitchen and bath. An addition was joined on the South end for the living room and bed room.
The inside was finished in knotty pine boards and we helped seal the wood with a Fabulon finish which was a step up from shellac and prior to polyurethane. They sold the machine shop and started moving in this winter.
Dad was still working second shift at Circle Engraving Company in downtown Indianapolis. With the long drives and overtime work, he still kept pushing himself to complete projects while still starting new ones.
Dad`s camera is to his left. It was on a roller track to serve as a zoom feature of the camera. The arc lamp in the foreground provided the intense light needed to photograph the fine detail of the copy print. These same lights are what contributed to Dad`s macular degeneration in his later years.
We managed to find time for our first real vacation this spring! It was decided that a trip to Grandma`s native Canada may help her relax and be better prepared to sort out her future.
Dad had just bought a new 1954, Oldsmobile 88 with the new “Rocket V-8” engine. Maybe that was more of a reason for a vacation trip?
We stopped at Niagara Falls on our way to Canada and that was when reality set in for Grandma that she was actually going back to Canada. Then the anxiety started. If she went back to Canada would they keep her and not let her return home? We finally convinced her that all was legal and she would return home safely.
I got my very own Kodak Brownie Camera for Easter, just in time for our trip! This model came with a detachable flash attachment and of course you had to by the disposable flash bulbs as needed. The roll of film had to be loaded from the back of the camera. An empty spool had to be threaded with the lead paper end from the new roll of film. Once the back was closed, a winding knob on the side of the camera was turned to advance the film into position for a shot. The back of the camera was fitted with a round red plastic window through which the progression of the film could be monitored. It started with arrows pointing the direction of winding, followed by a series of small dots indicating that the first number was coming up. With the number one centered in the window, the camera was ready. After the shot, you had to remember to wind the film to the next number or you would get a “double exposure”.
After the last picture was taken, you would have to rewind the film back onto it`s spool and have it developed. In a week or two your prints and the negative film could be picked up and shared via social media…AKA… personal contact!
Mother and Dad updated their 8mm movie camera too. Also a Kodak Brownie model which used 8mm movie film on a reversible 25ft reel. No battery power, had to wind the spring motor to progress the film. After one side was used, you had to open the case in a darkened room and reverse the spools and rethread the film to run through again. The movie film reel was put in a tin case and sealed with tape to keep the light out and as with print film, sent off for processing. One roll of processed film produced about a 5 minute show.
When the movies were returned, the reel had to be mounted and the film threaded through a movie projector and then projected on a reflective screen in a darkened room. Popcorn was a must and history was preserved!
When we returned home from vacation, we went to pick up Prince who had been boarded at Doc Shirley`s in Pendleton. He was so excited to be home, he didn`t want to stay outside and romp. He just kept looking in the kitchen window!
When we let him in, he had a short visit with everyone and headed to his comfy spot in the utility room by the furnace.
We all felt the same way after our first real vacation; we were ready to flop!
The next day Dad started right in on the sidewalk project while Mother worked on banking dirt around the porch area for more flower beds.
A great deal of back breaking sod removal and grading for the gravel base, but Dad did borrow Grandpa Barrett`s rototiller to help break up the hard clay ground. Hand laid brick edging kept the stone in place and out of the yard.
With the passing of Grandpa Wolff last year, Grandma elected to sell her house . At the time, she didn`t have any idea of where she wanted to live. It was discussed and decided that it would be best to move by us until she had time to collect her thoughts and figure out where she wanted to settle.
A used travel trailer, (today a mobile home), was set up between the Quonset Hut and Barrett`s Chicken House and we helped settle Grandma in as well as possible.
About the same time, unbeknownst to me, the plans were being formed to purchase a horse for the menagerie. This was done without even using the $7.50 I had saved in the piggy jar! Hey, I still had to buy my own comic books, bubblegum baseball cards, ammunition and arrows. I didn`t have much left to save!
We installed an electric fence around the front yard, (baseball diamond), and converted the north end of the Quonset Hut into a
stable. Saddle, bit and harness, curry combs and brushes, oats and molasses along with bales of straw and alfalfa were stored in the new stable.
Wow this was a dream come true! Riding from dawn to dusk over hill and dale, what a life. I couldn`t wait for school to be out! We quickly learned how to bridle and saddle Rusty. Learning to properly ride was another matter all together. Rusty was smarter than we were!
With school out and more time available for riding, I got along pretty well with Rusty. I learned pretty quick that there is a great deal of maintenance that goes along with having a horse, but it was worth it.
We had a scare one stormy night. I discovered Rusty had evidently been scared by the lightning and broke out of the stable and headed up the drive toward the highway. Somehow a trucker, rounding the curve, spotted Rusty in his headlights and stopped. He helped Dad calm him down so we could lead him back home. We closed the front gate for the night and secured the stable door. What a relief.
Spring brings thoughts of baseball and all of us guys play Little League or Babe Ruth ball in Pendleton. Little league baseball came to the Falls Park in the 50s. More property was acquired for this exciting addition and a Babe Ruth diamond was built adjacent to the Little League field. Pendleton`s senior league was called Pony League back then.
The opening day parade featured the Pendleton marching band, floats and all the baseball teams. That cute girl, Carole, was a majorette in the band.
One of my birthday gifts was a pair of steel spiked baseball shoes for “Pony League”. The first time I wore them on the diamond, I felt as though I was running twice as fast as I had before. It was an awesome feeling!
Dad also set me up with the chemicals and light box needed to develop and print my own film! I could close off the bathroom window and set up my darkroom. It was great!
Always progressing with the Wolff`s Den, Dad would prove to be one who liked to close things in. It must have been from something in his genes that required “closure” to a project! The project that required finishing was the newly added sun porch just added to the den.
Doyle was home on leave from the marines, so this seemed the perfect opportunity to complete the project.
With that project still ongoing, we started to finish off the den with horizontally run knotty pine boards. The ceiling would be finished with gypsum board. I got to be pretty proficient with a hammer and nail set. The boards were tongue and groove like flooring so the nails didn`t show.
With the start of school just around the corner and looking back, this was a fantastic year! Grandpa and Grandma were completing their fall harvest and preparing for canning and freezing the fruits of their labors. I was taking pictures with my new camera and looking forward to my junior high school days and the adventures to come!
Eighth grade started and friendships were renewed after a summer`s absence.
Carole laws is the first one of the third row and I am the second one on the last row.
We took Grandma Wolff with us on a visit up north to a Barrett family celebration for Grandpa and Grandma Barrett`s wedding anniversary. I managed to get a rare photo of my two grandmothers together. Grandma Wolff would turn or put her hand up to her face if she saw a camera so this photo is special!
The first snow of the season and Dad is out planting evergreens along the new walkway.
Leona`s flower shop didn`t take off and she sold the house on the highway and moved to Anderson. The new owner would give new meaning to the phrase “neighbor from Hell”! More on that later.
The sunroom was completed and we continued work on the den paneling.
The Barrett clan all came down for Thanksgiving at the recently finished Barrett`s Roost. Left to right; Aunts Mae and Jin, Mother, Grandpa, Aunt Marg, Grandma and Uncle Jay. With us and all the cousins and in-laws, they had 22 family members for a great Thanksgiving reunion at the old chicken house, just like we did three years ago in the old barn house!
It was finally a pretty mild winter this year. Still busy feeding and watering the animals and finishing the paneling and ceiling molding in the den.
Grandma Wolff decided to go back to Park Place in Anderson. She rented a house on College Drive which was within walking distance of the drugstore, the Park and Shop grocery, the Church of God and also the city bus route came right by her front door. It was a great location for her and we soon had her settled in and her television hooked up so she wouldn`t miss any of her soaps!
Prince helped keep me warm in my hayloft bedroom. We had to remember not to get up too quickly as the loft ceiling angled just over our heads!
Dad traded up to the 1956, Oldsmobile 98, four-door hardtop sedan. At mid-year, Olds introduced the new pillarless four-door hardtop body, dubbed the Holiday sedan, in the 98 series. Perhaps because of the popularity of the new 4-door hardtop body style total 98 sales set a new record of 118,626.
As it was the top-line Oldsmobile, the series had the most technologically advanced items available, such as the four speed Hydramatic automatic transmission, the Autronic Eye, an automatic headlight dimmer, and Twilight Sentinel (a feature that automatically turned the headlights on and off via a timer, as controlled by the driver), and the highest-grade interior and exterior trim. It weighed over two tons and sold for around $3,000.
Standard equipment included armrests, bumper guards, lined trunk, rotary door latches, dual horns, cigarette lighter, turn signals, rubber floor mats, aluminum door sill plates, sun visors, front and rear carpeting, foam rubber seat cushions, courtesy lights, front fender medallions, deck lid ’98’ script, back-up light moldings, electric clock, Jetaway Hydramatic Drive, padded dash, power steering, windshield washers and Deluxe steering wheel.
The new padded dash safety feature was not a favorite of Dad`s. He couldn`t polish it to a bright shine as he could the old painted steel dash!
Spring had sprung and Dad was eager to clean out the Cow Barn and Quonset of their stored “junk”. So, one day, while Mother was shopping, we loaded up the trailer with the “junk” and headed to the Pendleton city dump. We returned home about the same time as Mother. She asked what we had been up to and the next thing I knew we were heading back to the dump site with the empty trailer.
When we pulled in and headed toward our dumping area we noticed several people in the area with there arms full of “junk”. Our “junk”! It took a lot of explaining and begging on Dad`s part, but we were able to retrieve most of our “junk”. As it turned out, Mother knew the value of her collections and Dad never messed with them again.
Dad`s first self propelled power mower was a Snapping Turtle that was designed to walk behind, but Dad soon engineered a tractor seat mounted on a two wheel axel that attached to the back of the mower. No springs or suspension and the rough turf beat your butt sore. We usually preferred to walk behind!
Mother had a long flower bed that ran the length of the front drive entrance. It kept her pretty busy especially in the spring. Dad planted Multaflora Rose Bushes along the side of the drive and ended up cussing them every year.
The highway department used these dense growing small flowered shrubs along the highways and medians to help prevent automobile run-offs and accidents. They had sharp rose thorns and spread so much that they had to be trimmed each spring so they wouldn`t scratch the car. When Dad would finish the trimming and we would haul the brush to the burn pile in back, Mother would be waiting with iodine and bandages for Dad`s arms.
I received the most wonderful present for my 14th birthday, a Scottish Border Collie! He and all of the responsibility of taking care of him was to be mine. He had a white tip on his tail so I named him Tippy.
Dad and I finished the porch for the front entryway after we finally got the mixing, pouring and grading done on the cement walkways this fall.
Dad made a small Wolff`s Den sign to hang over the walkway leading from the carport to the front entry. Mother used the wood burner tool to burn the name into the sign.
Uncle Jim and Aunt Jin came down for a visit and while they were here, cousin Becky and I, Grandpa and Dad, shucked some sweet corn from Grandpa`s garden. Boy, that was the best sweet corn!
Mother and I just started another bought with bronchitis and sinus infection and the doctor making the house call commented on the horse in the front field. This could be a strong contributor to our allergies and congestion. This made sense, as we recalled that all of this trouble started shortly after we got Rusty.
Well, we sold Rusty and with masks in place, cleaned out the quonset hut stable. It was a great ride, but I resigned myself to the fact that I would not grow up to be a cowboy! With my freshman year of high school about to start, we will just have to follow the course of the journey and discover which road it takes!