Jeni and Matt, 1970

Matt and Jeni in front of the house at 1653, spring 1970.

Matt and Jeni in front of the house at 1653, spring 1970.

November 14th is the anniversary of my late sister’s birth, and I thought it would be fun to post something of her. I have some photos of just Jeni somewhere but none scanned and handy, and I like this one. The stamp on the border indicates that the development of the film (or at least the printing of this photo, which for our family would have been the same business transaction) was late spring or early summer of 1970, so the photo of us in the front yard of our childhood home at 1653 106th Avenue S.E. was probably taken in spring of that year. I don’t remember what the occasion was, but we took this sort of photo only rarely, such as on Easter or the first day of school. Jeni was nine at this moment. I was eight.

While Jeni and I share the focus of this photo, there are some interesting things haunting its edges. The tricycle that Jeni is leaning on is our little brother Ben’s, at least it was at that time (it may have belonged to all three of us in succession); he would turn four later that summer. Jeni’s bike is parked under the front eves behind that wretchedly prickly juniper bush ā€“ you can see its back wheel behind my left leg ā€“ and one of the handlebars of my own sting-ray-style bike can be seen sticking up along the leftmost divider of the big plate glass window, which reflects the giant Douglas fir trees in our front yard and across the street; the sweeping curve of their branches as they swayed in gentle breezes is one of the things my eyes know as a prime visual memory.

At the right edge, you can see some wooden two-by-fours on the roof of the house (the television antenna is behind it at the roof’s peak); this framework supports a basketball hoop and backboard that my dad built for me so I could shoot hoops in the driveway with my friends. John Tillotson, who was the first real hippie in our neighborhood and my friend Ribby’s older brother, did a lay-up one day and cracked the backboard, which made the rim of the hoop tilt forward just a little bit, and it stayed that way forever.

Finally, you can see the top of a pine tree over the top of the house; that tree was at the top of the back yard by the fence, and my brother and I used to climb it a lot. I weighed so little, even as a teen, that I could sit in the swaying topmost branches, right up there by the apical bud, whence I could see out over the house, over the neighborhood and beyond the slough to a spot where there were no trees beside the Burlington Northern tracks on the west side of Woodridge hill. When I heard the train’s horn blow, I would run to climb the tree, and I would count the engines and the railroad cars as they rolled past the gap. – mdf

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About the physical photograph:
<This one is somewhere in my collection; when I lay my mitts on it I’ll fill in this info>


4 thoughts on “Jeni and Matt, 1970

  1. Ah, brother…I weep. From that tree top we could see the train tracks. The horn would blow at night when we were going to sleep in the front room. Little did we know that just over those tracks on the down slope Jeni’s future home was waiting. I remember the trike. I loved it and my peddle car, which I was able to pilot at a swift clip around whatever vehicle Dad was working on in front of the garage. Time is a blessing, time is brutal.


    • I love that. ‘Time is a blessing, time is brutal.’ I didn’t realize you had commented because the notification of comments is going to my old defunct address and I haven’t figured out how to change it. Thanks for visiting, little bro’.


  2. Another memory. The chimney had a divider, which I discovered during a roofing job circa, 1976? I remember being astonished to find the divider, which made the vents in the chimney smaller, meaning that Santa Claus had to pick one or the other and there just was no way he was going to fit. …I’m so glad you do this, it helps you know. Missing her and Dad is like have a flat wheel on my pedal car. Doesn’t stop me from living but it makes for some bumpy moments.


    • Youngblood, you would be astounded at the number of good photos that people have been sending me. Mostly Cousin Nancy, but also Tim, Miriam’s grandson. The collection is piling up and I can no way keep up. But I’ll keep at it. I’m glad it’s a blessing to you.


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