Back to Sequoia
I wonder if the TV takes too much blame for the demise of the America we knew back on Sequoia Dr. We had a TV on which we would all gather round and sing along with Mitch, or in my father’s case croak along with Mitch. And he would hurry home from work so we could all watch the Mickey Mouse club together. My sister and I would don our uniforms, I think it best to include the photo as trying to describe those uniforms might be difficult. You can see the smug look n my sister’s face in this photo, I think perhaps because she had secured the pink fuzzy slippers. I mean, really, who wears pink fuzzy slippers with a cowboy skirt! My blue bathrobe would have been a perfect complement to that exquisite footwear. That determined looked on my face is pretty natural for me, it came early and it still exists today. I don ‘t know how the Mickey Mouse club uniforms came into existence, and it seems my mother must have had to donate some of her stylish hats to complete our ensembles, but there they are, and all was well in the 1960’s on Sequoia Dr. I am sure the Mickey cottage came from my love of the Mickey Mouse Club!
And then along came Peter….
During the summer my main pastime was building tents with my best friend Peter Terry. Peter and I are only days apart, both second children and we lived right next door to each other. We were destined to be buds. Our tent making supplies came from our mother’s close-lines; we would take those billowing clean sheets and drape them over sticks, brooms, fences or whatever we could find, then secure the edges with rocks. In those tents we discussed major world philosophies or something important like that I am sure. We created a world of our own, never to be entered by sisters Penny or Beth. And what was wrong with them anyway, they didn’t even try to enter; they were too busy playing dolls.
Peter was always so fascinating; here he is showing me the wonders of his thumb!
Peter and I (and of course Suzi B who always hung with us) were like minded visionaries, opportunists. I know this because there was a day we saw an opportunity. Potatoes were presented as an opportunity one day in Peters front yard. Yes, hard as it may be to believe, there they were lying on the ground; it was you might say a perfect-potato-opportunity. Neither of us questioned why this opportunity was presenting itself, we just seized the moment. We sat down and ate those raw potatoes, every last one of them. A little while later our tummies were upset and so we told our mothers only out of necessity. They looked alarmed. “Potatoes!” they said, “Why would potatoes be in front yard.” To which we had no answer. The next question was why would we eat the potatoes, other than the obvious answer of it-was a perfect-potato-opportunity, we had no answer for that either. Our mothers did not believe us, they were sure we had eaten toadstools instead of potatoes. We protested, we knew potatoes when we saw them! It wasn’t long before we were lying next to each other in St Joseph hospital with tubes down our throats. Suzi B somehow avoided this torture. It took almost forty years to get the truth out my mother, poor Peter and I had ingested potatoes just as we had said and had our stomachs pumped for nothing! Our mothers certainly did not deserve those flowers.
The great flower heist occurred shortly after the potato incident, it was days before Mothers day and we were feeling a bit bad about the worry we had cause our mothers earlier. Besides Beth had gotten a small loom and a potholder making kit and Penny and Beth were busy constructing potholders as gifts for our moms. We had nothing, what were we to do, and then once again opportunity presented itself. As we looked down Sequoia Dr. we saw flower bed after flower bed of daffodils. A daffodil bouquet would be so much better than a potholder. We were under the understanding that God made the flowers and so they were a free commodity to those who might need them. And we needed them. We secured my little red wagon and started up and down the street, plucking blooms from every flower bed we saw. Now sequoia was a busy street of interconnected people whose lives intertwined, I am not sure how we pulled off the great flower heist without a mother intercepting us, but by some miracle we did. We anticipated surprising our mothers with this abundance of yellow blooms and hid them with our wagon in our latest tent. By the next day our flowers were looking less vibrant and s we made a decision to present them to our moms early. We split our bounty and each went to find our mothers. And they were surprised for sure!!!! We spent the rest of the afternoon writing notes of apology to everyone on Sequoia Dr. while our mothers baked cookies as a piece offerings. The thing about flowers is they grow back….sooner or later. And Sequoia Drive had enough charm even without daffodils. After that there was no doubt that everybody on Sequoia Drive knew the names of Peter Terry and Kathy Kayler. I am sure the Daffodil Cottage stemmed from the memory of the great flower heist….but look there are no daffodils our front, a couple of little darlings probably picked them all for their mothers!
In the fall of 62 Peter and I headed off to kindergarten. We walked to Thompson elementary holding hands all the way; we were so excited to be as mature as our siblings who were already in school. We arrived bursting with anticipation and energy to be greeted by Mrs Reedmond. Picture, if you will, Mrs. Reedmond, a pencil thin lady, with a permanent bent position, her hair tightly tied back in a bun, a gray baggy dress, nylons with a seem in them, black tie oxford shoes and glare that could knock you over with one look. She had been teaching kindergarten since the middle ages and was less than thrilled to see these two jumping beans in here class. It wasn’t long before we were in opposite corners starring at the wall. On the way home we decided we were not going back, we would find professions that did not require a kindergarten education. We could always build tents; over the years we had a few successful lemonade stands, so that could be an option as well. It was lucky for us that class was overflowing and the decision to open a second kindergarten class was made. I am sure we were on the top of Mrs. Reedmond’s list of kids to be sent to Mrs. Hails class. It was Pearl Hail’s first year of teaching and she loved our spirit. In fact I discovered early in the year that I liked coloring on the thrice folded brown paper towels with a texture much better than the plain white newsprint. So when it came time to draw she would motion for me to go get my brown paper towel. I wonder how our lives would have changed if we had been forced to stay in Mrs. Reedmond’s class. Peter’s cottage ended up red white and blue reminiscent of the outfit he has on in our picture. The bunting in the front reminds me of the sheets we used to drape all over the back yard.
Get a Life…and you can quote me on that! Kathy Bradway
The next year we moved, and by third grade Peter had developed a serious case of boy cooties which is horribly contagious. The magic of those Sequoia years slowly subsided. Perhaps that was “The Good Life.” Yet that seems so past tense. I think it is time to,”Get a life…and make it a great one!” And I believe we can, in fact I know we can. For the magic we had on Sequoia Dr. is still simmering in me. It is just waiting to reinvent itself into new neighborhoods, where everybody knows your name. Neighborhoods where daffodils bloom in flowerbeds up and down the street and you can shout hello to your neighbor from your front porch. Special places where you can smell the barbecue coming from the backyard in the evening, and people accept you for who you are (even if you are a bit different). Wonderful neighborhoods of people who let themselves get intertwined with the lives of their neighbors and where connections last a lifetime.
Stay tune for part three of three