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001 First Memories
002 Hampton Road
003 Cedar Wood
004 A Room Of My Own
005 School Days
006 My Friend Wayne
007 A Great Flood
008 My Mother Makes Biscuits
009 To Disneyland
010 We Go To Mexico
011 The Cabin In The Woods
012 We Go To Yosemite
013 Grandma Nelson
014 Nelson Nursery Early Years

I.B. Nelson according to himself

Hampton Road

I.B. Nelson Cartoon commenting on the U.S.A. energy budget
©I.B. Nelson

My first move

My mother prevailed upon my father to purchase a two story white house on Hampton Road, about two miles away. As I later heard the story, my father did not really want to buy the house but did so to please my mother and later image of my house on Hampton Road where I grew uplamented the money he had 'lost' when the house ended up being sold at or near the same price he had paid for it. But living there proved amiable enough. One thing truly defined 958 Hampton Road: stairs.

First, there were the steps leading up to the front door, five of them. Then there was the flight of stairs leading to the second floor. Turn to the right at the top of the steps and there was another short flight of steps that lead up to the attic, which later became my bedroom. Back on the first floor was a door just to the left of the door leading out to the garage, behind which was another set of steps leading to the basement, my mothers laundry room.

I remember being intrigued by the laundry chute with its top-hinged swinging door, across from the top of the stairs on the second floor, which delivered dirty clothes directly to the washing room in the basement. I fixed a loose screw on the swinging door when I was perhaps 6 years old resulting in effusive praise from my mother and a swelled head and chest on my part as my mothers "little mechanic". Looking back, considering what a rambunctious child I was, that it was a miracle that I never flung myself down the chute to see what it was "to be the laundry". There was one last set of steps, of two steps only, that led down into the family room. Here we spent many evenings together as a family, and often with numerous neighbors present as we watched the tiny 5 inch television screen embedded in the massive blonde-wood television cabinet, the first television in the neighborhood.

The Backyard

The doors of the family room let out into a very large back yard, so large that it was divided into a front section nearest the house and a back section with its storage shed and open spaces inhabited by several fruit trees with ample room for vegetable gardening. Exiting the house you stepped out onto a brick patio where there were table and chairs with umbrella. At the far right corner of the patio was a walkway that bisected the yard and led to the back section. Where the patio ended began a dirt area to the left of the walkway where we spent many happy hours with toy construction trucks building cities and bridges and freeways. Separating the patio and dirt area was a hedge of gardenias, whose aromatic odor perfumed the whole yard on warm days.

There was a tall California Cedar tree with irresistibly climbeable branches. I loved scrambling high up into its branches, what seemed a mile to me then, where I could look far out into the world, at least until my mother spied me and demanded my immediate return to earth. Climbing the tree was forbidden of course, which made it all the more enticing. Unfortunately for me, much of my mothers work was done near the back windows of the house so my forays into the tree were secretive and usually cut short; but they prepared me for even more dangerous climbs later that would cause my mother even more distress.

To the right of the walkway was the lawn, bordered by gardens. In the middle of the lawn was a wooded picnic table on which many a birthday feast was eaten. The window of our breakfast nook looked out onto the lawn area, as storybook an area as any child could desire. At the end of the wall next to the gate leading to the side yard was a Hydrangea plant whose flowers miraculously changed from red to blue and from blue back to red, aided in this magic trick by my father and certain chemicals. But at the time I thought it was true magic. At the back of the lawn area were Wisteria vines, draping from the roof of the storage shed, that in spring made the yard a place of rare beauty with its long pendulous blossoms. In my childish memories, the lawn garden is forever perpetually in bloom, a happy inviting place where everyone who enters is happy and wears a genuine smile, wafted over by the perfume of Gardenias.

The end of the first section of the yard was marked by a tall fence on the left side and the wall of the storage shed on the right. The walkway led to the only opening, an arch cut through the fence. To the left, the fence was covered with the large arching, thorn-covered branches of several ancient rose bushes which, to me, were nothing less than the threatening magical thorn bushes of Sleeping Beauty. They were old, they towered over my head, and more than once they pricked or cut me or my clothing. Passing through the arch, the walk led past the storage shed, a dark creepy place that I did not like at all, where our supply of firewood was stored.

The far back portion of the yard was quite deep, deeper than nearly all modern yards. image of Hampton Road house from the air showing the cedar treeTo a small boy it seemed as large as a Montana ranch and contained a number of old fruit trees, mostly apples as I remember, but there was also a cherry tree. My father planted vegetable gardens in the spaces between the trees. Once, I decided to grow onions and planted a packet of onion seed and generously watered the row. I must have drowned the poor things because no onions ever grew.

The space beneath the Cedar tree was my personal Kingdom or at least so I thought. The area was dirt without any plantings since the Cedar shaded the space completely. I had several metal Tonka Toys, an Earthmover and Grader and Dump Truck; with them I constructed cities in the dirt beneath the Cedar, building bridges with odd bits of wood, raising buildings and creating rivers, which, of course I would cause to flood and destroy the cities I had built. I got a good laugh years later when I saw Calvin, of the comic strip "Calvin and Hobbes" do exactly the same thing, pretending to be a god figure over his private domain.