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Monday, November 21, 2011

The sidewalk

We moved to 729 Moraine in 1945, just before my brother Walt was born.  I was 2 ½.  Dad told me a moraine was the end of an ice age glacier and all the stones and dirt and stuff the glacier pushed along were left right there when the ice melted. All the stones had been ground fine, and our moraine was sand.  We were the last street before the land went down a hill and there were no houses on the other side of Moraine.  It had been farm land, and an old harrow stood abandoned.  That very summer I played on it, fell off the seat and sliced my scalp open on a rusty point on the way down.  I ran home, all the neighborhood women looked at it; I got cleaned up with soap, water and iodine.  People who cut my hair have commented on the scar. Then a construction company began mining the field for sand, from our road down to the bottom of the hill.  Acres and acres of sand.  We called it The Pit and it figured mightily in our childhood adventures.

729 is the middle house, with two cars in the drive.  We never used that drive for cars.  Our official entrance was from the street behind, Gardendale.  My parents owned the land from Moraine to Gardendale, as well as the next property west up Gardendale.  The front porch was open in 1945, but was closed in within a year or two, giving we children ten more windows to wash twice a year.  Inside and out.

Next, my parents built the garage over a summer, with the help of Uncle Bill and neighbors who did carpentry.  A blacktop surface that filled the balance of the lot was poured in front of the three car garage and then dad graded the hill up to the west lot and planted trees and grass.  Thus leading to another phrase from childhood, “Keep off the hill!”  Or, “Get off the hill!”  The hill only took up part of the west lot, and the neighborhood played baseball on the rest of it.

There’s a long neat line from the back of the house to the garage, curving past the garden to meet the blacktop.  That very large tree in front of the garage is an acorn Walt brought home from Aunt Laura’s house and planted when he was two or three.  The long neat line is the sidewalk that got us from the back door to the garage.  Dad and crew built it in 1956.

He and Walt put up a grape arbor at the end of the blacktop, first.

Dad excavated the sand from across the street.  It was 1956, people were  resourceful.

Walt fell out of the neighbor’s tree and broke his leg, so he got sand washing duty.  The doctor told him he was not eating enough green beans.  He still doesn’t eat green beans.

Dad built a frame to form the blocks, which had to cure two days.  Then, it was a block a day. 

Anyone who could swing a shovel to clear the way did.

Block by block the sidewalk was laid. 

When it was finished, the celebratory picnic: 

 Uncle Hank, Barb, Mom, Uncle Bill, Aunt Flo, Joanne, Grandma Rolf, Walt, Mel, Janice and Ken. 

Uncle Hank swapped places with the chief engineer for the final shot. 

I am not pictured in any of the construction.  That’s pretty much how I remember it.


  1. Good looking walkway....and they all look pretty proud of themseslves.

  2. What marvelous memories! Love the pictures! Love the sidewalk! Did any of the blocks have hand or foot prints? And I love that the sidewalk curves neatly AROUND your brother's tree. Here in Edmonton, they'd probably just chop the tree down. Philistines!

  3. No hand prints that I can remember,but then I was the youngest one shoveling dirt and making blocks. I just love how beautiful all the colors are in the picture. They faded over time. The worst part was having to pull the weeds from the cracks every year. Dad made a tool for that as well. Some kind of dandelion type digger formed into a hook.