(My dad, Lawrence W. Lewis. b. 1920, Silverdale, Washington, USA, wrote these memories of his early years)
My earliest memories could be partly fantasy - but - I faintly remember dad driving carefully down a steep - muddy road that I think must have been the road down to Nelita - on Hoods Canal - it was at that time a logging area that - as I can recall - had at least one cabin where mother and dad lived.
It sat on the far side of a little creek - with a narrow bridge going across. It must have been a romantic honey moon spot - because - apparently - Irvin and I were both conceived there.
Lawrence W Lewis, 1920
The next thing I recall was when we moved to the house above the mill at Crosby ( the Lewis family homestead ) Dad and some of his brothers were running the Mill and we lived in a cute little two room house within a few hundred feet of the mill. Brother Gene was born while we lived there. - I am told that - when we first moved in from Nelita - I had a little dog that ran away and I was found a half mile from home - chasing after the dog.
Thomas Henry LEWIS holding baby Irwin with Larry Lewis, aged 3, in foreground. (Taken on the Fourth of July) about 1923 at Crosby
The Mill was a fascinating place with it's hissing steam - flapping belts - the big saw cutting off slabs of lumber. Dad pulling levers - jumping from one side of the big log to the other - setting the width of the next slab. - Of course - there was no bathroom - just an outhouse out back - but Dad built a bathtub down at the mill - along side the big steam boiler that ran the mill - He sawed some planks one inch thick and two feet wide and glued them together somehow. When the day's work was done - he ran water into the tub and heated it with steam from the boiler. - then Mother and us kids would take our weekly bath. At that time there was no electricity in the area - so - in the evening - we sat around the kitchen range with an Aladdin lamp hissing overhead. I remember Dad reading to mother - books like - To The Last Man - by authors I can't remember - while us kids were in bed overhead.
One evening - I was sent out on the porch where there were some cupboards - dad had built to store the canned fruits and vegetables that mother had canned -- It was almost dark - when I opened a door - I saw a pair of eyes shining back at me - I screamed and closed the door and ran inside - making a big fuss. Naturaly - no one believed me - but it wasn't long before we were all aware of the smell of a Skunk.
Sometime before this - TJ Lewis - my grandfather and some of the boys built a large - three story house that was - to be the Lewis family home - to replace the one that had burned down some time before. It was to be a grand - place - but it had no plumbing nor electricity provided. This must have been around the time that My Grandmother ( Agatha Marie OLANIE) passed away.
When we first moved to the house by the mill TJ had married Carrie and was living in the big house - and - Carrie was taking care of my "kissing cousin'" Betty Jean Youngquist (now Betty Carr) I remember - the two of us playing hide and seek in the upstairs - which must have had lots of hiding places.
Later the house was rented to a family named Brum. They had several kids, one of which was a girl the same age as me. We played together a lot and when school started for us - I remember walking the mile down the road to the school TJ and the boys had built with lumber sawed at the Lewis Mill. I am told that the same teacher was there that had taught when Dad went to school. ( These were all one room schools ) I later went to the ( same school with the same teacher that my mother went too). That was at Clear Creek - but that comes later in this story.
Larry and Irving about 1928
The next thing I remember, we moved to Silverdale where dad had bought a little house - I don't remember too much - but it was in the Spring time and we kids celebrated the coming of Spring by dancing around the May Pole - I was dressed in a White shirt and Shorts and the girls were all fancied up too. -- That's all I remember about our first stay in Silverdale.
Next we moved to Dobe Lake. Times were tough and Dad had found a job in a sawmill near what is now Federal Way. He had gone ahead and built a little one room cabin out of rough lumber from the mill.
Mother and Dad loaded our few possesions into and on the old Chrysler and away we went. I remember stopping at a used furniture store in What is now "Tukwila" and they bought some furniture ( I don't remember what ). It was in the Fall of the year and winter was coming - so - I'm pretty sure it might have been a heating stove. It almost caused a fire that singed one wall of the cabin pretty badly.
The whole family helped cut firewood and Dad made some extra christmas money by selling firewood to an old man down the road. Irvin and I attended another one room school while we lived at Dobe Lake. We had to walk to school and on the way we went past the old man's place where we usually stopped in and he gave us cookies from a great big wooden barrel.
That summer we moved to Bremerton and lived in a house on Fifth Street that Dad had bought before he and Mother had married. It was still in the Depth of the Depression and Dad Picked Brush in the forest out around Seabeck and Crosby. He loaded the old Chrysler down with brush and brought it to the house in Bremerton where he and Mother spent the night sorting and packing the Huckleberry Brush for delivery to the company that shipped to the florist companies around the country. He made pretty good money but it was a hard way to make a living. He was out in all kinds of weather - Rain or shine.
Both Mother and Dad's health took a beating. The following Spring, Dad rented out the house on fifth street and bought another house on Gregory Way, also in Bremerton. I know it was in April because Mom and I fell for an April Fools Joke. While going past the Bremerton High School on the way to Gregory Way with a load of things, we saw a package laying on the street and Mom stopped for me to get out and get it. I just bent over to retrieve it when we heard the kids yell April Fool
Dad got a job with the County, clearing brush off the highway right-of-way. Sometimes I went with him on Saturdays and got to help tend the fire piles. Sister Audrey was born while we lived on Gregory Way. Irvin, Gene and I slept in the attic and we told each other made up storys of Ghosts and Goblins till the folks had to yell up and tell us to go to sleep.
Later Dad got promoted to truck driving where he pulled a grader made of wire brushes -- back and forth on the Seabeck road -- during school breaks I got to ride with him sometimes. This was in the fall of the following year because I would jump off and raid an old abandoned orchard and then chase after the slow moving truck with a load of apples. I think he only went three of four miles an hour
It was during this time that I discovered that I was very hard of hearing and wasn't hearing what the teacher was saying. Therefore I was held back to take the school year over again and fell behind the kids in my class and never caught up with them. I also began taking Violin lessons but never really got good at it because of my hearing.
The Depression must have been real hard on Dad because soon he had a nervous breakdown and ended up in a sanitorium in the Georgetown area in Seattle where he stayed for several months. While Dad was away - we moved to Silverdale and lived in Mur-Mur's house in Clear Creek Valley (Grandmother Scholds). While we lived there (I think it was due to Mothers rundown state of health, much like Dad's) that mother contracted tuberculosis.
Nettie SCHOLD LEWIS and Larry, about 1933
We three boys found many ways to get into mischief on the farm. There were lots of buildings there; a big barn with a hay loft to play in and chicken houses full of chickens. The old Gander which I bedeviled till he chased me squawking all the way! I was really scared of him but wouldn't admit it to my younger brothers
One day we found a 22" rifle that Uncle Lawrence kept in the barn to shoot rats. Not knowing it was loaded, I picked it up and pulled the trigger. fortunately it was pointed at the ground. Boy did I learn a lesson there -- and so did Irvin and Gene.
That winter we attended a one-room school across the valley and had to walk through the muddy fields. Mother bought Irv and I knee hi boots for the trip. We thought it was great at first but the novelty soon wore off. It was a little one room school with an outhouse out back and the older kids helped the teacher with the younger ones. The same teacher was there that had taught mother a few years before. On cold winter days, some of the mothers came at noon time with soup and sandwiches which they heated on the big potbelly stove in one corner of the room.
That Summer Dad came home and we moved into a little house across the valley - near the School which one of our Uncles owned. Everyone was happy to have Dad back with us. We were a happy family again and Mother especially. I'm sure she had missed him very much. Uncle Al's kids were near by and Johnny and his sisters were our constant companions.
I remember - fondly - on a warm sunny day - laying on my back in the cow pasture - looking up at the clouds in the sky - without a care in the world.
Mother encouraged me to continue with the Violin and even had an old Swedish man up the valley make me a Violin of my own. It really didn't help my playing, but Mother thought I was great and I loved to play for her.
The Depression had let up and Dad got a job in the Navy Yard in Bremerton and we moved into the House which dad owned in Silverdale. It was a little two room house (the first house on the right as you came into town). We had an outhouse out back. Dad soon added on another bedroom and then a bathroom but the place was so close to the road that he had to jack it up and move it down on the lot about a hundred feet. We first dug a basement, then moved it in place and poured the foundation under it. Dad then built another roof over the old one and put an upstairs on it with two bedrooms which were never walled off as long as I was home.
There were two big cherry trees up by the road where the original house sat which put out the best cherries ever, one black and one red. Anyway, when I was fifteen, almost sixteen, Dad was doing something on his new 35 Plymouth and the old 25 Chrysler was in the way, so I begged dad to let me move the Chrysler and when he said OK. I jumped in and put it in gear - let out the clutch - and promptly charged ahead - right into one of the Cherry Trees. It didn't hurt the car, but needless to say, it was the first and last time Dad let me behind the wheel of one of his cars for ever so long.
There was a very active Boy Scout troop in town which Irv and I joined. I eventually got my Eagle Scout Badge. I will always remember the two week hike in the Olympic Mountains every summer.
In 1935 Brother Roland was born. It was too much for Mother and in early 1937 Mother passed away with TB - after an extended illness. It was a very traumatic experience for me because I was so close to her.
I Graduated from Silverdale High School in 1939 and after trying to join the Coast Guard - and being turned down because of my Hearing - I joined the CCC and spent fifteen months at Camp Quilicene on the Olympic Peninsula. The Navy Yard called me to take an apprenticeship as a pipe-fitter - but the War came along.
The Army also turned me down for my hearing, so I worked in the Shipyards in the Seattle area through the War. I got married and raised a fine family.
Lawrence W Lewis November 23 - 1998
Larry and Cheryl sharing family memories (1996)
created by Cheryl L. Morgan,
last modified: 27 December 1999