Thursday, October 10, 2013

Book of Me, Written by Me–Prompt 6: Journals & Diaries

The continuation of the 15 month, weekly writing project about my life and memories, created by Julie Goucher.
The prompt for week 6 is Journals and Diaries

  • Do you keep a journal or diary?
  • How far back do they go? What do you record?
  • Where do you keep them?
  • Do you always buy the same one or vary them?
  • Have you inherited any?
  • Do you intend to pass along your journals or destroy them?
  • Pictures
  • Do you have a favorite?
  • What do you use to write with – biro, pencil, ink or fountain pen?
I currently do not keep a journal or a diary. I have not really kept either one any long period of time. In high school we had to keep a journal in an advanced writing class I took as a senior. I mostly wrote about the stories I wanted to write, nothing really about myself.
I often keep short journals when I am on a trip, writing about the things that I do on the trip. My first one was started in 1974 when I traveled with a school friend across the country on a Greyhound bus with an Ameripass. There was lots of time to write while riding a bus and in those days and taking photos was expensive because of the cost of developing and printing the film. Mostly I wrote in English, but sometimes I would write in German.
The next time I took a similar trip on the bus with a different friend, I wrote, in addition to the sights we saw, a story. Part of the story started on the bus, so it was easy to be factual about the sights seen from the bus window.
I still keep a brief journal/diary on trips so if I put the photos taken on the trip into a photo scrapbook, I have the details to include for the captions.
I have inherited some diaries. My husband’s great grandfather wrote in little notebooks during the Civil War and continued long after. It is dry reading, but does give a glimpse into their everyday lives.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Book of Me, Written by Me—Prompt 5: My Childhood Home

I am continuing the 15 month project to write about myself using prompts created by Julie Goucher. The prompt for week 5 is “Your Childhood Home”
I lived in at least three houses as a child. I know the addresses and have photos for three of them.
1954 West Pittsburg house - Lea & Lisa HorkWhen I was born, my parents lived at 35 Wharf Drive in West Pittsburg.[1] They purchased the house when they had married the year before and had to wait for the house to be finished before moving in. It had a flat roof. I don’t think they lived there long. I certainly don’t remember the inside and have only seen the front of the house from photos. The house still stands but the community is called “Bay Point” now.
1963 Birthday party - Lisa HorkWe next lived at 467 East 9th Street in Pittsburg.[2] This was a two story house with a basement and a cellar. There were two bedrooms upstairs with a bath. Downstairs was a living room, dining room and a kitchen. From the kitchen there were stairs down to what we called the basement. It actually had an outside door to the backyard. Below the basement was a small cellar. I remember in the early 60’s some official came to the house to see how big the cellar was in case of a big air raid.
After four children were born, my parents created a bedroom out of the dining room and two girls had one room and the two boys had the other bedroom. I always loved the big picture window with the curved top. My mom bought a silver fake tree and would shine a different spot light on it each year at Christmas. I remember Mom cooking at the gas stove and washing our hair in the kitchen sink. We’d lie down on top of the counter with a rolled up towel at the end for our neck and our head hanging down into the sink. This was a weekly ritual. Most of my memories are of the kitchen but most of the photos taken inside were of the living room. Mom made strawberry jam every year and I can still see in my mind all of the jars she’d collected over the year filled with jam and wax on top. One year made grape jelly, using diapers as the cheese cloth. Then my sister had purple colored diapers after that!
Outside, the yard seemed so big. We had a couple of the kid-powered metal cars that we pedaled. My car was blue and the chain would fall off all of the time. Behind the house was another smaller house that had a renter. One of the renters was a man who did not mind fixing the chain in my car when it fell off. Later, my mother rented the cottage so she’d have a studio where she could paint. I think she also liked the idea of not having others living on the property. We drove the cars, rode bikes, roller-skated, and played hopscotch on the sidewalk and driveway. One day I drove by the old house and the yard seemed so small as an adult!
1970s House 130 Paulson Ln WC - after additionOur third childhood house was at 130 Paulson Lane in Walnut Creek.[3] My parents managed to save enough money to buy this house in 1963. It was only three blocks away from the LoRay store where my father worked in the produce department. This house was barn red with white trim and had board and batten siding. There were three bedrooms and one bath, a large living-dining room, and a kitchen with an eating area. The walls throughout the house were made of knotty pine boards and the floors were hardwood. It was a good size for two adults and four children.
My sister, Danna, and I shared a room. The room had two closets with doors and we’d pretend we were one of the Mousketeers from “The Mickey Mouse Club” show and come out of the room saying our name! I once had the class rat stay over in my room and he ate the curtains at the window. Mom wasn’t too happy about that. I don’t remember the first wallpaper but I picked out a light blue one with flowers. My brother’s room was made of knotty pine boards and had a built in bureau between their two closets.
The kitchen was probably the favorite room as we all hung out there. Mom papered the dining part of the room with white brick wallpaper. We had a huge table that could seat all 8 of us, the two youngest in high chairs. The kitchen side had knotty pine cabinets and an electric stove. The electric stovetop was built in islet that made it easy to pass food from the stove to the table. Mostly Mom served our food onto our plates as there wasn’t room for serving dishes on our table.
The kitchen table was also where all homework was done. In the winter, Mom and Dad had drinks at the table. We played games like cards, Monopoly, Scrabble, and Chutes & Ladders at the table. When I took piano lessons one year, the piano lived in this part of the kitchen as well.
The house was also situated on a quiet country-like lane that ended at the creek where we played often wading in the cool water or catching tadpoles and baby frogs. Other houses that lined the street all had mature trees that shaded their yards. Many also had a variety of fruit trees that kept us all fed between meals! We spent our summers outside except when called for meals by a huge bell. All the neighbor children played outside. It was a fun time.
The first year we lived there my best friend was Maryann who lived next door. She was in my class in 3rd and 4th grade. We played with our Barbies (Back then, older girls played with Barbie—not like today) or made up stories. Later in 5th and 6th grade my best friend was Joanne who lived up the street. Instead of dolls, we played with trolls, making houses out of old cardboard boxes and clothes from felt fabric. By the end of 6th grade she was into boys and I wasn’t quite ready. My new best friend in 7th grade and on was Beth, who liked to read and take walks. We’d meet downtown and just window shop or read books & comic books at the drug store.
When I was in the 5th grade, my mother had another daughter, child number 5 and when I was in 7th grade, the last daughter was born. This necessitated the adding of another room. The garage was converted into a bedroom and the screened porch was glassed in. That was where the T.V. got moved. Still we had only one full bathroom for now eight people. Oh, what a life.
The first to move out were my sister, who shared my room and one of my brothers. I was paying my way through college and needed to stay home. For my room and board, I carted kids around to various activities. I finally left once I had a full-time job and moved into an apartment all by myself. That lasted about a year—I moved in with my husband after returning from our honeymoon and we still live in the house we purchased together.

[1] California, Department of Health Services, Department of Public Health, Vital Statistics, Certificate of Birth, Contra Costa Co, 1954, Lisa Suzanne Hork.
[2] Pittsburg-Antioch City Directory. (Los Angeles, California: R. L. Polk, 1957), 1957: 304, Wm J. Hork (Lela N).
[3] Walnut Creek City Directory, (Los Angeles, California: R.L. Polk, 1964), 1966: 134, Wm J Hork.