We spent most of our time at the Payless Cashways hardware store in Elwood, Ks just three miles east of Wathena. We bought the paneling and the sheetrock. We bought insulation for the attic. We tore the walls down that had been put up for additional bedrooms that we didn't need. We opened it up and tried to make it as homey as possible. Unfortunately it was like trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear and no matter how much we tried to fix and clean it always looked like an old storage shed made out of cement.
We found a swimming pool that was 24ft round and four feet deep with all the accessories, in the paper and put it up outside the back door. Charles dug the dirt out with a shovel and made it as level as possible. We tried to help him with the walls and liner and the rails but as usual all parts were thrown and scattered helter skelter. Just like the tent he tried to put up in Branson. Charles' temper got the best of him. Chuck tried to help him but he just yelled at him and then I tried but I could never do anything right as far as he was concerned. Charles was a perfectionist, if he couldn't do it his way then it didn't get done. The pool was finally up and the water was as clear as it could be. It was my job, I made it that way, to keep the chlorine levels and the ph levels where they should be. We only had to buy "shock treatments" when the weather was bad and it rained a lot. We had a skimmer and a sand filter. It had a white fence around it and a small aluminum deck with a walkway around the top about a foot wide. I loved that pool! On July fourth we always had a barbecue and family would come and we'd play volley ball or badminton and swim in the pool.
In the wintertime the water pipes would freeze and Charles would have to dig up the line and thaw them out. The well was way down the hill passed the field next to the barns just outside of the "swamp" area where the beavers had built a dam. We went through more water pumps. It was hard on the pump to push the water up hill through those narrow pipelines.
Clyde wanted to move into the trailer that was on the property so we rented it to him for 110.00 a month which was what he had been paying in town for an apartment. He always like the country and was a good renter.
In the fall of 1990 Charles and I went to the Black Hills of South Dakota to see Mt Rushmore. It was beautiful but an early ice storm caught everyone unawares with no snow tires or chains. Going up and down the hills and around curves was a challenge but Charles was always one to take chances and never feared when it came to driving. We had a van then and took it up through Iowa and across South Dakota. The tall pines and forest there called to us so we pulled over on the way back from Mt Rushmore to get a better view. I went ahead and tried to stand on a slate flat rock but I started to slide and couldn't get stopped. I called, “Charles!" He came running but by the time he got to me I was wrapped around a tree. The drop was about ten feet if I had fallen. Somehow he'd gotten me down but my pants were torn and blood was running out of my left hip where the hide had been torn as if by a knife. We headed back to the motel and I examined my wound. I was more concerned that I had ripped my good pants.
We headed back home the next day but we had to drive slower due to the weather and it took more gas than we thought. We went south on 16 to rte 2 into Nebraska. This was a narrow strip of road but according to the map and Charles, it was the fastest way back to Northeast Kansas.
When we got home we went to an appliance store and bought a new stove and a refrigerator we put on credit from AVCO financial group. Charles made the new cabinets and we bought a new counter top from PayLess. I was still working as a GPN at a small nursing home in St Joseph and Charles worked at the Truss co. We both got paid every two weeks but we got paid opposite weeks so we had a paycheck every week just like we did when we worked at Friskies’ in Elwood in 1981.
That Christmas I had been paying on a new set of diamond rings for myself since every set I ever had I had to hock. I decided since it was Christmas I would continue paying on them in January so I could take the money to buy the kid's presents and actually get Charles a present too. We had a joint checking account so we were both using it to buy presents. I wanted a new coat that I had seen at Kmart and actually pointed it out to Charles so he would know which one I wanted and I also wanted one of the new Red Devil vacuum cleaners so I could keep the house cleaner. It just looked so dirty all the time. It was dark even after he put in a new picture window in the dining room.
Christmas came and I opened up my first present from Charles. A few family members were there but when I opened the present I was so disappointed to find an old pink coat that Jennifer, now 17, didn’t care for either. I was a lot heavier then and that big old bulky pink coat made me look like Baby Huey! I stuck my hand in my pocket and found something in the pocket. I knew without looking it was my rings that I had not planned to get out of the pawn shop until January so we'd have enough money to get through Christmas. I knew I owed over two hundred dollars on them and now we were broke! I tried not to show my disappointment when what I really wanted was that vacuum cleaner and I knew there were no more presents for me from him and now no money to buy one. I felt so miserable that we had to continue to live in that ramshackle house that refused to come clean when you didn't have the right equipment or the money to tear it down and do it over right, which is what it needed. Over the years I just wanted to go back home! I had told him that the same day we got married and he said "No!” I told him when we had been married just two weeks. For 19 years our lives had been one disappointment after another. I always told him if he went back to Nebraska St he would see the skid marks I left with the heels of my shoes when he dragged me up that sidewalk to Leslie's car to take me to the courthouse. I was mad at him that day for being late again and I told him I didn't" think I wanted to do this".Sadness and disappointment was all our marriage had added up to for 19 years. Moving and moving from one house to another trying to run away from our problems or each other.
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