Nellie Truher w JWT1+Helen: Jim-Jack-Michael
• Subject: Nellie Barrett Truher, April 1940

To: , , Haack_Ronald
From: Jack Truher < >

Brother Michael saw a photo of his grandmother Truher while on his and Sherryl's RV trip, staying overnight with us in Los Altos about a week ago. Because his middle name is Barrett, I scanned this picture for him. I was reminded of my mother's text album, elsewhere included in the my/our < >family online notebook. The picture is of Nellie Barrett Truher , my grandmother.

The picture is a part of photo album, HBT-PA-02, not yet included in this Notebook. Surrounding pictures on the same album page indicate the picture was taken on the Riverton Heights property in April 1940. Lots of room for development. Jack was about two years old. The baby being held in this picture is Claire Louise Truher, daughter of Lewis (my father's brother) and Clara.

Reading again my mother's text album for JWT2, I find mother's (Helen's) recounting of her husband's beginning construction on their first owned home on the corner property given them by grandfather August. Open this story below:
• FEBRUARY through JUNE 1937
3115 So. 135th Street.,
Riverton Heights, Seattle
[ Jim2: 2 yr + 2-6 months old ]

Once in a while Seattle has snow and ice for a week or two. It happened that early in February, 1937, the ground was frozen, then covered with about 8 inches of snow, which stayed on the ground more than a week. But that didn't stop your Dad. He started preparing the ground [for the new house] right away.

He cleared off all the snow where the house was to stand and made a path through the snow from Truher's big house to the new site. We got you dressed in your warm red suit (see previous picture) and you trudged back and forth following him around for an hour or two every day. He had to carry boiling water in a teakettle from Truher's in order to level the ground where the foundation posts were to stand. But in a month or two he had built a little house, which included a living room, a tiny bedroom just large enough for a double bed and your crib, a
bathroom, a kitchen and a back porch with a brand new washing machine. (The underlined words illustrate the importance of the new conveniences, which delighted me and kept you neat and clean.)

Of course the three of us moved in before the house was finished. A few years later we added a larger living room and used the old one as a bedroom. That was because we had Jack and needed more room. It was wonderful to have our own house. You had a big yard to play in and loving grandparents to fuss over you as well as parents, of course.

• I gather a new understanding of place and time from this. While my parents family moved around a lot in my life, their little house in Riverton Heights was built initially - before I was born, and was a place to which they could return. This little house was begun in the winter and Spring of 1937, and improved later in that year, adding just enough room for my arrival in February 1938. More below:
• Jim2 and I moved with our parents to various other places, Scenic most memorably, but the little house, acquired on the corner of our grandparents acreage in Riverton Heights was a place of refuge. In one of her writings my mother, Helen, writes of "not being uncomfortable" living with August and Nellie.

The lesson to me this morning is to put to rest my perception that our parents were desperately poor in this era. They had choices which they were exercising. Money was tight, but they were managing adequately. Family tensions were as much a factor in exercising moving options as was the bottom line.

Helen Nelson told me that the primary tension between Helen Burke Truher and Nellie Barrett Truher had to do with Helen's plans to take a part-time job to augment the family income and otherwise get her out of the confinement of child-rearing two toddlers. Nellie and August were contrary to women's liberation, however defined, and Helen was not. I have the impression that Nellie and August were not interested in helping with child care. What other topics of controversy were at issue was never clear to me. I remember August as laconic and grumpy. When he died, he left zero inheritance to my father - a matter of considerable resentment at the time.

My father appeared to be very attached to his mother, as evidenced by his giving Michael her maiden surname. Nellie in the picture was never consultive with her adult son to my knowledge. There was not much exchange of happy conversation. But I was so young. How could I know. My parents were so driven during my youth.

I am reminded again of my mother's observation when my own children were quite young: "Jack, you will not make the same mistakes I did. You will make different mistakes."