Somehow, my mother scraped together enough money for the down payment on a two-unit, Yamhill Street flat, a few blocks east of our old waterfront neighborhood. My grandparents moved upstairs, while my mother and I took the street-level flat below.
Finally, she had a home and garden of her own. This had long been a golden dream. We settled in quickly, and she was exuberant.
Two huge, overgrown pink rhododendrons stood guard on each side of the front steps, overpowering the tiny front yard. She called them “Pink Pearls.” The back yard was an unplanted patch of weeds that my grandfather and I cleared out. We cut and dug out weeds and we turned over the dirt and we raked the surface and we dug shallow trenches and then my mother eventually transformed it into a flourishing vegetable garden.
By this time, my mother had retired her yellow Hudson-Terraplane and was driving a used, low-mileage, 1939 Packard sedan. She was proud of that gleaming gray Packard. Once in awhile she would let me use it for a special night out—something like a double-date, perhaps—but only if I washed and polished it in advance.
On nights when I stopped by for dinner with my dad and Eleanor, we always ate at the checked, oilcloth- covered table in the kitchen. Those were special times. Good talk and good food. The dinner always ended with one of Eleanor’s fabulous fruit pies—apple, berry, rhubarb, peach, or sometimes banana creme.
The happiness of their marriage continued after seven years together and in July 1941, Eleanor gave birth to a healthy little girl they named Judy. Dad was fifty-two years old. Eleanor was Thirty-two. And they were ecstatic.
Marcy Cherry was a cabaret singer who joined the “Babe” Binford band that year and became a minor sensation. There was a smoky sensuality about her husky voice that captured the dance crowd. When the lights dimmed and she stepped up to the mike, under one small spot, and slid into “Embrace me, my sweet embraceable you,” she breathed a special quality of seeming to be singing right to you.