At The Beginning -elaine ossipov

I was born on June 6, 1961.  First I was a daughter to none. Then I became a the daughter of  Marzie and Vaughn Lisherness littlest sister to Christopher Vaughn Lisherness Sr., Stacian Elaine Stevens and Kevin Eugene Lisherness.  All started out as daughters and son’s to no one. Then we became family, due to the love and kindness of two people who chose to adopt four children in the 1950’s and the last adoption taking place on December 8th, in the year 1961.  That was me, I always have been late to the party 🙂

Before I came along, Mom and Dad lived in Seattle on 60th street.  Dad worked for Martin Oil leasing a gas station and heating oil business.  They were happy there and talked about it allot. They had a dog named Mike, that was Chris’s dog. Evidently that dog would hide in the ditch waiting for unsuspecting prey. His unsuspecting prey was anyone he deemed unworthy on their property.  He did wait until the people were on the property before he chased them off.  He was a boxer breed and mom said he had the largest bladder of any dog she’d ever seen. They would put him in the garage with food and water while they went to Oregon for the weekend and when they came back on Sunday night, the minute the garage door opened he went barreling for the nearest bush.  But he never once went to the bathroom in their garage.  I  know mom told him if he did she would chop him up for stew. Animals going bathroom in the house, or on any cement or bricks was the 1st commandment in mom’s “If you’re going to live here, there are some rules you have to follow” book. This book was LAW, yes, I meant to capitalize that.  TRUTH doesn’t hold a candle to what happens if you break mom’s LAW.

Then they moved to Mt. Vernon, Washington.  Mt. Vernon located about 70 miles north of Seattle and about 60 miles south of the Canadian border and smack dab in the center of farmville usa, well, ok, it was the Skagit River Valley, or Skagit Valley.  Dad purchased a lease on a Hancock Service station and Heating Oil Business, from the Wolf’s.  He also purchased us the most wonderful home. A corner lot in the middle of a housing area, in what we called on top of the hill.  There is only one hill in Mt. Vernon, so I guess I can understand how it got its name. Our home was built by a master mason.  It showed in every nook and cranny of that house. From the curved glass brick wall in the main entrance to the independently standing glass door fronted solid masonry knickknacks cabinet with curved glass-brick ends in the living room. Every wall, every floor and even the ceilings of some rooms were all tile and masonry work. For years after we purchased the house from the owner/builder we would need to call him up and have him come in and do the work mom wanted done, because no one else came close to his skill.  The house was two stories, and in my humble opinion, the best floor plan of any house I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a lot of houses. There was  a shiny black tile trim at the bottom of the walls that went all through the formal dinning and living rooms. These we got to dust every Saturday Morning. In addition to cleaning the grout in the bathrooms with toothbrushes. Did I mention the ceiling was tile and the built in  bath tub?  But the most unique feature of this home was by far the kitchen floor.  These the master mason laid by hand, each one a 1 inch by 1 inch square and each one a different color. It was gorgeous. At different times in our childhood, we had a pool table in our rec-room (family room it’s called today) and we had a swimming pool in our backyard. We opted for these items instead of vacations.

I worked in the fields harvesting crops before I went into first grade, then later I started working on farms. I’ve harvested enough strawberries, raspberry, spinach, bulbs, cucumbers, hay, apples, cherries, butchered enough rabbits and chickens and more in my early life to feed a small country for a year.   Working the ground is in my blood now.  To this day I can put my hand in the ground and tell if it will yield a good crop or not.  What I need to add to the soil. Not all the time, but most of the time. I missed a tomato blight one time, didn’t know the ground was infected, but I’d never come across it before, either.  I don’t think I would be as good at it now as I was then.

But this is how my life started from before I can remember working on farms with the crops and animals. I never remember being taught how to harvest a crop, or shoot a gun, or how to run a cash register and make proper change for a person.  I do remember this one time when my dad & I were walking on a sandbars of our Skagit River Valley and he got mad at me for not holding the gun up high enough and getting sand into the barrel. I do remember that I was not yet up to his waist in height. There were the old-fashioned feed stores I would patronize and get an orange crush soda pop. There were  livestock auctions we attended intermittently, normally when we were buying a calf to put on and raised as been at one of the farms.

I remember the Milk-man delivering milk, eggs and butter to our home three times a week and the glass jars being very heavy. I remember watching my mom and dad, her brother my Uncle Lloyd and his wife my Aunt Joan and my grandmother playing pinochle until the wee hours of the morning.  My Aunt and Uncle happened to own the house at the end of the alley that ran behind our house. So they lived about 300 or so feet away. My uncle is passes now, may he rest in peace, but he was a good man, good father, not-so-good of a son and brother when he was needed, but we all have our faults.  My Aunt Joan I have always loved, she was the nicest person.  A hair dresser by trade she had her salon on one side of the house she owned. She always did my grandmothers hair for her. For years and years she did my grandmothers hair once a week for free. How many daughter-in-laws would do that these days? Course these days were those days and those days were just different from things now.   One time my gram’s took me with her to get her hair done and my aunt had offered to cut my hair.  I’ve always had long hair, almost waist-long long hair even back then when I was maybe 4 or 5 years old.  So I thanked her and got into the chair and sure enough got out looking like a boy. She had cut my hair into a page-boy cut.  Of course I had to be thankful and not show any displeasure, it was after-all out of the kindness of her heart she was cutting my hair.  I think I cried for hours after getting home, and it wasn’t until about thirty years later, when I owned my Toy Store Aunt Joan stopped in to ask how my mom was getting along, and we got to talking. I’m not sure exactly how it came up, but I confessed holding a minor grudge all those years about the haircut.  It was then she confessed to me  mom had been the real culprit. Mom had been the one who order the page-boy-loss-of-18inches-of-hair-male-maker-of-me.  When I confronted mom with this she said very matter-of-factually “Of course I did,  I didn’t tell you because I didn’t want you to be mad at me for all these years.”  It would seem forgiveness was not a part of my genetic make-up. Even at 4 or 5 years old.

I remember my mom picking me up from Kindergarten.  Each day, five days a week I went to a christian kindergarten where we were learning two languages. Not because they were progressive, but rather because in our valley with the crops we had, there was a large population of people who spoke Spanish in the summertime.   She would pick up my incredibly wonderful full Swedish grandmother and then pick up me, and drive us home on her lunch hour.  It was not unusual for us to see either a deer or fox, or some other animal on the way home. Sometimes even a bear.  Living at the foothills of the Cascades was like that back then. And no one ever locked their doors or their cars until we started worrying about the two-legged animals who were much worse than the four-legged kind.

All my life I’ve had an affinity for animals.  Animals always like me and I like them it’s a mutual trust, admiration and respect  we have for each other.  To this day I have a family of raccoon’s who took up under our house, and of course more squirrels than I could name and keep track of.  We also have the occasional mouse taking a bath in the gutters, the neighbor animals trying to eat all the cat nip and we have our cat Symba.  Oops, forgot the wild rabbit that seems to have also taken up in my back yard.  I find this a little interesting all these animals in a back yard the size of well, it’s small.  lol,  look at it on Google maps here. We even had deer come into our backyard this summer, that’s a first since we moved here.

When I was small of course these animals would follow me home. And some did. And Ok, a few I coaxed. But I couldn’t “bring” them home, I’d been banned from that years before.  I think it was the geese that followed me home one day that put the final straw in mom’s bonnet.  Of course it could have been  the tree frog incident too.  One day when mom had already picked up gramma and then me, I had decided we needed a larger tree frog population in our back yard, after all they ate bugs. I not only hated mosquitoes but I am allergic to them, which probably explains why I hate them.  I get huge welts where they bit me,  so  it seem very reasonable to a Kindergartener to pack her coat pockets full of tree frogs  and let them loose the in the back yard. This was not my first time doing this, but previously it had always stayed as a covert action. This day, I was not so lucky. Sure enough about half-way home the frogs started getting antsy, I was sitting in the backseat, my mom and grams sitting in the front. All of a sudden the frogs started jumping out of my pockets, over the seat into the front seat, if they didn’t get caught in mom’s hair on their first jump they seemed to end up in both the women’s laps.  I believe it was the frogs in the hair part that was the last straw.  This was the 60’s and all the women wore their hair up and teased, well she warned me if I brought home one more animal I was out the door with them. Of course she didn’t mean the second part and I knew that.  But in my house if our parents told us to do sometime, by god, you just better do it, or there would be hell to pay and we’d be the ones paying the bill.  I never ‘got the belt’  That’s when Dad came home from work.  We would have been waiting for him in our bedroom since the offending act took place. He’d walk in, say, “well, do you know why what you did was wrong, then there’s no need to talk about it further” he took off his belt and either put one of us over his knee, or we had to stand while he  whipped our behinds. I never got the belt because of was the youngest of 4, and I saw everyone else get the belt. Seeing it happen to my elder brothers and sister was enough of a deterrent for me.

There is an old saying I take comfort in:

“anyone can learn from their own mistakes, it takes a wise man to learn from another’s.”

Personally I think it was just good old-fashioned plain fear!! lol 🙂


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