Living in Yelm in 1951 by Edgar Prescott
Introduction: In this passage Prescott describes the house in bought in 1951
Looking back I have to admit that the house we bought back in 1951 doesn’t seem anymore take all that much of a house that it did then. It was square, and it sat high up on a foundation. You had to climb five broad cement steps, bordered by a fancy iron railing, to get to the living room; and around on the side, up three real steep, narrow ones to get into an entryway, where there was a double laundry tub. That tub would have been an improvement, when it came to scrubbing and rinsing clothes, over the galvanized tub and copper wash boiler we had used to use—It had hot and cold running water—but it would have required a washboard and a lot of hard work, and it certainly wouldn’t have matched up with the automatic washers and dryers that most other folks were using. As nearly as I can remember, we never used the thing.
All of the rooms were small. The kitchen, with its little dinette on the end, just big enough for the three of us, didn’t have a lot of cupboard room. There was hardly space in the living room for what furniture we already owned,- and the bedroom closets were little more than cubbyholes.
But there was a good looking fireplace in the living room, faced with native rocks that were varnished, and the floors were hardwood, made out of oak, even in the kitchen and bathroom, where they were covered with linoleum. And there was a basement under the house with a coal burning furnace, and heating registers in all the rooms.
On the outside the house was painted white with a red shingled hip roof, no eaves at all, and it was built on the edge of a big lot—Actually it came close to being two lots wide—with just enough room on the north side between the house and the fence to drive a car into the garage out behind.
And it was all practically new, at least as tar as we were concerned—only five years old. The date it was built, 1946, was stamped into the cement of one of the risers of the steps out front.
To us it was a “precious stone” like Shakespeare said about England, only it was set in a green lawn instead of a “silver sea”. And the lawn wasn’t even green. Not then. We were thinking ahead to the way it was going to be. Actually it was that big hunk of land south of the house and in the back yard that I was drooling over as much as it was the house. There was room for a garden, or a lawn, or flowerbeds, or even another house—anything my mind could conceive.
And believe me, my mind conceived plenty—enough projects over the next twenty hears, along with teaching history classes, to keep me busy as a colony of ants. I was about to say “to keep me out of mischief”, but I guess a lot of things 1 got into on account of that land might rightly be considered as mischief. Take that nutria deal I got into. But I’ll tell you about that later on.
Right at first we were busy sanding and refinishing the floors. We rented a sander from the hardware store, and Archie Ferguson, our neighbor—He was the fellow who had built the house in the first place—was right there to give advice. Then we had the laundry tub in the entryway torn out and replaced with a new washer and dryer. And we replaced the furnace in the basement with a new Winkler-, high pressure oil burning furnace.