Project 52: Four Years Old and a Baby Brother

1968_07 Four Years Old

Four weeks ago, on my 52nd birthday, I began Project 52 — For 52 weeks, I’m going to reflect on one year of my life.

Last week, I ran out of pictures I’d copied, so I asked my Dad to help out, and he came through beautifully, scanning in lots of pictures from when I was small, all meticulously labeled by my Mom with the month they were taken.

Today I’ll begin with my fourth birthday, June 14, 1968. The family tradition of licking the beaters for the birthday cake began early. I remember “helping” my Mom make and frost cakes (loved to do that!) and I remember those blue gingham shoes. My sister Becky had matching ones in red.

1968_06 Beaters

But this picture, with my fourth birthday cake, is the one that makes me super happy.

1968_06 Little Marcy

When thinking about doing these posts and living in Kent, Washington, I’d already been remembering all my Little Marcy records and how much I loved them. What I hadn’t remembered was that the collection was a gift for my fourth birthday! No wonder I knew they were my records! No wonder I loved them so very much!

Okay, a youtube search does make me question my judgment. I can’t, actually, watch the ones that show the puppet. And they only seem to have recordings of the very weirdest songs.

But four-year-old me loved Little Marcy with all my heart!

There were hundreds of songs, and most of them, honest, were not creepy or weird. Many were, as advertised, the same songs we’d sing in Sunday School. I’d play the records and dance around the house singing along. I still can sing along without pause to any songs that turned up on Google.

My Mom also taught my Sunday School class around this time. We went to church at a Baptist church in Seattle. Mommy had a whole big set of flannelgraph Bible stories, and I also loved to play with the flannelgraph. I’m pretty sure I made up my own stories about the characters. Many of them did match the illustrations in a Children’s Bible that we had.

I had not remembered that Grandma Hatch was there on my fourth birthday. I know we visited Grandma and Grandpa Hatch in Arizona at least once when Grandpa Hatch was alive. I was so proud that he was an ice cream man! (I’m not sure what the story there was. He had been a farmer most of his life, but had gone to Arizona for his emphysema.)

1968_06 Grandma Hatch

Here’s a picture in our yard in Kent, swinging on the swingset. That swingset is easy to remember, because we had it for years. Looks like it was new at this time.

1968_06 Swinging

And I think this necklace came from some beads I was given. Oh my goodness I am pleased with myself here! I do remember those wonderful beads, and you can see the pride in my eyes!

1968_06 Beads

Here’s a picture that shows the big front yard I remember from the house in Kent — simply enormous to a four-year-old. The blackberry bushes are on the other side of the alley (a gravel road). If I went near them, I got scratched from head to toe by the thorns. But those berries were very yummy.

1968_09 Front Yard

One Saturday, we’d all been shopping, and when we came to the top of the hill, there was a fire truck and lots of people standing in our yard. Very scary! It turned out, the blackberry bushes were on fire! But the firemen put it out, and there was a black patch after that. (I think the part in this picture, so it happened after this picture was taken.) I still remember that scary feeling of a fire truck being in our yard.

My Mom liked to take pictures of us when we got new clothes. I’m pretty sure this was taken when this coat was brand new.

1968_10 New Coat

And — 1968-69 was the year of the Big Snow!

1968_12 Big Snow

Mind you, I was four years old. I did not understand that snow like this didn’t happen every year in Seattle. All I knew was that my brother Ricky, in second grade, and my sister Becky, in first grade (Becky had been in Kindergarten for a week or two before she got promoted to first grade because she could read so well.) — got to come home early and even had days off school because of the snow. Their bus couldn’t make it up our hill, so all the school kids came walking up the hill through the snow! It was a memorable sight!

I was jealous that I didn’t go to school — so I could get out of school early because of snow. (How’s that for logic?)

(I never did get a snow day in my life until finally when I was an adult teaching college math in Illinois. I did get an earthquake day once in California, though.)

This also reminds me that my Uncle David, my Dad’s youngest brother, lived with us for awhile at this time. I know it was during the big snow, because we went to Kennebec Hill to go sledding. They had blocked it off from car traffic. Kennebec Hill was so steep, I was afraid that if I jumped when I was walking on this hill, I’d fall to the bottom of the hill.

I don’t think I did much sledding that night — too scary. (The sun goes down so early in Seattle in the winter, it probably wasn’t actually late at night. But it did get dark while we were still sledding. But I was scared of the steep steep hill.) But Uncle David took the sled and I remember watching him go down and down and down, really fast.

My sister Wendy was a toddler now:

1968_12 With Wendy

And that was the Christmas I got a doll that I loved very much.

1968_12 Doll

Now, my parents didn’t try to fool us about Santa Claus. My Mom probably thought she was being open and honest when she told me that Grandpa was Santa Claus and had given me the doll. Aunt Susie had sewn some doll clothes for her.

But then we went to Grandma and Grandpa’s house after we opened presents. (I remember there was snow on the ground.) The thing that really puzzled me: If Grandpa was Santa Claus, why did he go back home after he came down the chimney and left the doll by the tree? Why didn’t he just wait and go back to Salem with us?

I do remember thinking Wendy was the cutest thing:

1968_12 Sisters

In fact, in my memories that turn out to be from that year, I have a big sense that a lot of my time was me and Mommy and Wendy (because Ricky and Becky were in school). I was the big sister, and it feels like that was the time in my life when I got the most one-on-one interaction with my Mom. (This makes a lot of sense — the family was only beginning.)

This picture reminds me that we had at least three child-sized chairs, which my Mom had owned as a child. This blue rocking chair was just right.

1969_01 Chair

And oh, the Fisher-Price toy camera! I loved that thing! You could look through one opening and see different colors, and through another and see “pictures.” When you pushed the button, it clicked and a flash cube turned! I guess it foreshadowed a lifelong love of taking pictures.

1969_01 Camera

And here’s a picture with Ricky, Becky, and Wendy, playing Ring-around-the-Rosie.

1969_01 Ring around the Rosie

I remember often hearing people tell my Mom, “But you look so young!” Now I think, “They were so young!” My Dad turned 30 that winter, and my Mom was 27. And they were about to have their fifth child.

Yes, my brother Randy was adopted in February, 1969. I don’t look too thrilled by that!

1969_02 Randy1

1969_03 Randy2

1969_04 Randy3

In fact, by Randy’s first Easter, I look a little fed up!

1969_04 Easter

Well, those are all the pictures I have for that year. The fun for me is how it brings back what it felt like to be four years old. And simple joys like beads and snow and music and ring-around-the-rosie.

Edited to add:
I was thinking more about the Little Marcy records and how much I liked to sing those songs. I liked the records best where the liner notes had the words to all the songs. I also had a Little Marcy songbook, which had the words to the songs from at least two of the records.

It’s funny to me that I have to remind myself that the little girl in the pictures could read fluently. And then I think — I bet that having the words to those songs really increased that fluency! Think about it: What better way to gain reading fluency than play songs over and over and over again and read along the words as you sing?

I also think it’s interesting that I still love playing Christian music and singing along. Maybe I don’t dance around the house as exuberantly — but I still love the way the words bolster my faith and my joy.

I am not sure when I asked Jesus into my heart, but I know that I did it at least once when living in Kent. (I say at least once — I did it more than once just to be sure I’d done it before.) Now that I’m seeing these pictures and finding out some things happened when I was so young — I think that may have been one of them.

Anyway, I’m a rule-follower by nature. So growing up in a Christian home, I was never in danger of being the Prodigal Son — I was always in danger of becoming a Pharisee.

But I also got some honest joy from singing about my faith. Even so very young.

Oh, and to my sister Marcy: This has reminded me that Mom loved the name “Marcy” as long ago as 1968! (Abby would have been “Marcy,” but when Dad found out that Abigail meant “Joy of her father,” Mom gave in to him.)

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