The Story of Our Childhood
by the Children of
Donald Graham Dick and Bertha May Neisinger Dick"
"Proper English" and "The Telephone"
Our Telephone
Daddy and Mother were always very strict to be sure we spoke proper English. They corrected our word usage regularly and made sure we used the proper tenses.  Slang was not permitted at all. In fact, they made such an issue of it that EVERYBODY who knew us was aware of how insistent our parents were that we were well-spoken.  It was quite common for people to use words like "brung" instead of "brought", or "dasn't" instead of "dare not" or "ain't" instead of "aren't" etc.  Daddy and Mother always taught us to make sure that we never used double negatives, or phrases such as "more prettier" or "can't hardly". 
The lessons I learned at home about English FAR surpass what I ever learned in school. I am very thankful for that. It has served me well, and has made me a better communicator.

Speaking of communications, things were so different then in many ways. Radio was pretty well established but television was pretty new. We had a radio, but we didn't have a television for a long time. I remember that Daddy rented a television once because he wanted us to witness a very great Historical Event on June 2, 1952: The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II! We were thrilled to watch all of the Pomp and Circumstance! It seemed like it was a very long ceremony but it was fun to watch. It was like seeing a parade. Even though it was in black and white, it was obviously very grand and spectacular.

Many people didn't even have a telephone in those days, even though they had been around for decades. We did have a phone but it was a "party" line, which meant that other people had the same connection as we did. You might pick up the receiver intending to dial out, and find that one of the other "parties" was using the line. You could get a 2 "party" line or a 4 "party" line or a "private" line, depending on how much you could afford to pay. You had your own special "Ring" so you knew when you were receiving a call. Some of the parties had 3 rings or 4 rings or whatever.  You had to wait and listen so you knew if it was your ring or not.
Our Telephone
Our Telephone (Lower left) 1961
At first our phone number was CH(erry) 1948. The telephone company was called Pacific Northwest Bell Telephone company and was part of the national conglomerate called AT and T.  Many years later, they changed our tele. no. to CH(erry) 3 -1948. All phone numbers started with letters that stood for words then, and there were NO area codes at all. If you wanted to make a long distance call you just called the Operator by dialing "0" (zero). She would answer and say "Operator" or "Long Distance, for what city please"
and then she had to connect you. You called the operator for emergencies too. For "Information" you dialed 411. 

 (Many years later, my first official JOB was as an Operator.  The switchboard was the old fashioned peg-board style!  I worked in California at Pacific Telephone as the ONLY operator for about 100,000 people.
Sharon the

Sharon in Concord, CA "Telephone Operator"
I handled Long Distance, Repair calls, Information and emergency calls. Once I even placed a call for President Lyndon B. Johnson, and a person to person call to the actor Danny Thomas. I have MANY stories about that time of my life.)
The Kolstad House (Across the Street)
The Kolstad House is across the street.
Shirley is in Back,then Left to Right:
Eileen, Jeanie, Judie and a friend (Paula?)
When we lived at 641 SW 124th St, we had some neighbors across the street by the name of Kolstad.
Mrs. Kolstad's name was Ena, but I don't remember her husband's name for sure. I think it was Ben. Anyway, they had three children. the oldest one was Kristine, then there was Kathy, and Karlie was the baby. We often played at their house, because they had a tire swing that swung way out over the bank to the left of their driveway in (in those trees to the left of their house in the picture above.) The bank dropped off very sharply, because the neighbor house was actually below street level! It was such a thrill to swing out so high. They were very poor and didn't even have a telephone. 
One day, Mrs. Kolstad needed to make a call, so she came over to our house to borrow our phone.  Kristine came with her and they knocked on our door.  When the door was opened, Kristine blurted out:
"My Mom wants to know if we can use your phone 'cuz we ain't got no phone."
Mrs. Kolstad, (knowing how important proper English was to our parents), immediately reprimanded her:
  "Kristine", she said "Don't say 'ain't', say: 'We DON'T got no phone!'"

I don't think we laughed in front of them, but we sure got a good laugh after they left. And that story has been told OVER and OVER in our family reminiscings.

Another time our early age English teachings became very apparent was the first time I ever had a boy over to our house for dinner.  I was 17 years old and my boyfriend (Terry Bramblet) lived in Tacoma. I had met him at Camp Glendawn.  He was visiting with a friend of his (Billy Buckley) who lived in West Seattle and planning to spend the night. I asked Mother and Daddy if we could invite them both for dinner and they agreed. With such a big family plus company, Mother arranged to have my friends sit at the main table with the adults and she set a smaller table for the younger kids. I don't remember how many of the younger ones were at the other table but I know that Jimmy was one of them.
At some point early into the meal, Daddy was trying to make conversation with my guests. Daddy asked Terry, "How did you boys get over  here?"
Terry answered, "Mr. Buckley took us here."
Little 5 year old Jimmy, sitting across the room at the OTHER table hollered out: "BROUGHT!"
I guess he learned his English lessons well! He had some lessons still to learn about politeness, but I'm sure Daddy was secretly proud of him!!!!!  

This story is only a LITTLE bit about the telephone. Mother was pregnant five different times in my recollection, and even though I do not have a lot of SPECIFIC memories regarding her pregnancies I do remember the "name" selecting process.
Each time our parents were expecting a baby, beginning with SHIRLEY,
they chose a boy's name: JIMMY DONALD and they also chose a girl's name: (Well Five times they used the girl's name, and you all know Who WE are, so I won't list them here)
In 1957 while Mother was pregnant they chose their names again:
In those days there was NO WAY to tell whether an unborn child was a boy or a girl. So everybody waited with great anticipation of the new arrival.
Finally, Daddy took Mother to the hospital. He waited and waited and the baby still didn't come. He finally had to go home to care for the rest of us. Shirley was 14, and I was 11. At that time we had a bed in a corner of the living room where I slept. My own little corner!
It was about 4 O'clock in the morning and the TELEPHONE rang. Daddy rushed to answer it and Shirley and I were both right there waiting for the news!


Daddy shouted and jumped straight up in the air and kicked his heels together! I have NEVER seen Daddy do that before or since! I also never got to meet PATRICIA ELLEN, because Mother and Daddy never had another girl.

I remember more stories about the telephone that were also pretty funny. One time, we were all gathered around the table in preparation for our dinner. We had just finished our devotions, and Daddy was saying the blessing. Apparently, our parents were expecting an important telephone call. As he was praying, the phone began to ring. Naturally, no one was supposed to answer the phone during prayer, but Mother must have really been nervous about missing the phone call they were expecting, because the INSTANT Daddy finished with the blessing, she picked up the telephone and said, "In Jesus name, AMEN. ....I mean, Hello". We all roared with laughter!  

Another fun telephone story was when Mother answered the phone, and the caller asked for Bertha. Mother said, "This is she." The caller said "Hello Bertha, this is Mary." Mother and Mary spoke for a few minutes of chit-chat before Mother finally realized that it wasn't AUNT MARY like she thought. She and a TOTAL STRANGER were talking with each other! That was pretty funny!  

Another Picture of our Telephone

Another Picture of our Telephone
I suppose it was because Daddy's name was Donald DICK, sometimes we would get prank phone calls for "DONALD DUCK". I don't know if Daddy was teased a lot about the similarity in the two names, but I have always wondered if it was self-preservation that inspired Daddy to learn to imitate the speech of Donald Duck. Daddy did a pretty good imitation of Donald Duck. We always giggled when he would goof around and talk that way.  

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