It was the late fifties and I was eleven or twelve years old. Mom was suffering with severe back pain and many times she was completely incapacitated. Much of my summer vacation was spent with family friends and grandparents. I especially remember spending time at my dad’s mom and dad’s during this period.
They lived in a small home next to a wooded corner lot nearly at the top of Magnolia Bluff in Seattle. They had a large long lot that went down hill away from the street and overlooked the train yards. The house was one story but because it was built on a side hill it was at street level in the front and really high off the ground in the back. There was a dark, unfinished, dirt floor area under the back of the house where grandpa stored his tools and other stuff.
Each time I was there I looked at books that they had in their possession. I honestly cannot remember the titles of the books but I do recall looking at some very dark and scary illustrations. I looked online for examples but couldn’t find any that I remembered or recognized. I loved books at a young age. They took me away from the reality that was my childhood with a sick mom and a dad who drove long haul overnight.
The one bright spot in all of this was the Saturday Evening Post. I loved to be there when it came in the mail. I looked forward to seeing the cover illustration for the first time. Many times it was by an artist that I was already familiar with, Norman Rockwell. I was introduced to his work in Boys Life and didn’t really put the two together until later in life. Mr. Rockwell illustrated middle America using childhood friends and some elements of his own childhood.
Looking back I can see how these surroundings and props affected me in ways I haven’t thought about in a long, long time.