Friday, October 4, 2013

Moved to Morton

The summer before first grade, I moved in with my dad and his new wife, who was eager to be our new mom. Dad had reclaimed Jimmy too, so we were back together.
Jimmy and I in front of our grandparents home. We were about 6 and 7 here.

We lived in a little ranch-style house in Morton, Washington, an isolated timber town located at the junction of SR 7 and US Hwy 12. Mount Rainier National Park flanks Morton on the Northeast side, and Mount St. Helens National Monument flanks it on the south, but this was fifteen years before the eruption. The mountain was still a snow-capped beauty teeming with wildlife, a frequent destination for hiking, camping, and fishing.

Morton was a town of men wearing hickory shirts, sawed off pants, red suspenders emblazoned with the words “Loggers World” and hard tin hats.


I was in first grade. Jimmy was in kindergarten. At recess, he pushed me on the old gray nippled steel merry-go-round until we were breathless. We spun ourselves dizzy the day we received smallpox vaccinations on our upper left arms. Mine swelled so much, the school nurse sent me home.

First grade in Morton

Even now, I can touch the circular scar and feel the wind blowing past my ears.  I see the scar and remember what it was to be a girl of six living in a new home with a new mom, attending a new school.

"What happened to my other mom," I wondered, "and where did all my sisters go?"


  1. This is interesting - I like the way you stick to the child's point of view. But I can't help wondering where you mom and sisters did go??

  2. That makes two of us - did you ever find out?

    We had an old steel merry-go-round at our school, too, and two more at our local park. Sadly, all the old playground equipment is being slowly replaced (I don't recognize much at the school anymore, except for the monkey bars) with things that are "safer." Well, they might be safe, and less scary, but they're also less fun.

  3. I especially like the comparison between the small pox vaccine dizziness,and the round scar echoing the dizziness of the merry go round.ride. This is very evocative!

  4. I can't fathom being six years old and faced with these questions. Your writing brings us right into this moment-and there is hope mixed in with the mystery of what is happening-and I also want to know-what has happened.

  5. The inclusion of the childhood pictures is great. You look so small and vulnerable, not much bigger than your dog.


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