Here, gathered in our beloved South Dakota, are a few members of our Williamson / Mattson Clan. Charles and Luella are to be blamed (be kind, they didn't know what they were doing). We're generally a happy bunch and somewhat intelligent (notwithstanding our tenuous grasp on reality). I'm also proud to say that most of us still have our teeth.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Our Life on Signal Heights, Rapid City. 1959-1965

From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove

Hello All,
Sitting atop a small range of hills in the center of Rapid City is a neighborhood called Signal Heights. Charles and Luella purchase a two bedroom, one bath duplex at 39 East Signal Drive on Signal Heights. Our small family of four had outgrown their trailer parked outside of town near Black Hawk. Charles had a stable job with the South Dakota Dept. of Transportation so renting in Rapid City seemed like a good move for our growing family.

Today for our digital gathering, I've posted pictures from the time we spent on Signal Heights. My first memories come from this small home on a dusty hill.

Victor, June 1959

Here are two pictures from my first birthday. Luella says I wasn't much of a cuddlier. I'd push her away whenever she solicited an unwanted hug and kiss. There was only so much of that kind of thing I could stomach. I guess you could say my tolerance with familiarity was set at a very low threshold.

A learning moment captured on film for all time. See flame, think flame is pretty, put finger in flame to touch, get burned, cry buckets of tears, first birthday ruined...... all captured on film

Kim and Victor. June 1959

Kim and I are playing in our driveway at 39 East Signal Drive. Kim appears confused; she had every reason to be. Even at her young age, she knew the proper way to hold a baby bottle. I was a trial to her patience as seen in the photo above.

Have bottle, hold upside down, attempt to drink. I'm wondering if my mother thought I was a bit slow. Was that the nagging thought that kept her up at night?

I pleased to see I mastered the technique of riding a late 1950's model baby scooter. I needed it to get away from my sister. She could walk and run far better than me.

Charles, Kim, Luella, Victor and Grandma Elda. 1959

A family portrait taken in 1959. Charles was 23. Luella was 20. I'm sure Grandpa wanted me to look at the camera but my grandmother's whimsical faces were more interesting. Charles was her only child. We were her only grandchildren so we were the recipients of her undivided attention when she visited from New Mexico.

This picture was taken in the summer of 1960. We were on vacation in Bismarck, North Dakota.
This picture was taken outside the home of Grandpa Liessman's sister. Kim and I are the two younglings on the front row sitting with our parents and grandparents.

Bismarck, North Dakota. Summer 1960

I'm two years old. Kim is three. We're sitting with our mother and grandmother. I loved those zip up pajamas. I wonder if they come in my size today? Step in, pull up, put your arms through and zip up - instant comfort and security. The soles of the pajama feet are an added benefit for the older person. They have little plastic grips to prevent slipping? I'm told it's nearly impossible to buy me gifts - well there you have it. Take me back to 1960, get me a pair of yellow zip up pajamas with plastic anti slip grips.

August 13, 1963. A day that will live in Infamy. Janice and Jonathan Williamson joined our family. In one birthing our family grew from five to seven! Luella was only 24 years old. Janice is on the left (the elongated tongue gave her away).

I still remember that reddish leaf patterned carpet. It had zero plush so God help you if you ever fell out of your high chair. It was adequate to keep your feet from freezing on a cold South Dakota winter day.

You're looking down our duplex's one hallway. Charles and Luella had the first bedroom to the right. Kim, Kevin and I had the second bedroom on the right. The only door on the left was the bathroom. The accordion doors opened to a closet.

It's a wonder any of us survived to adulthood given the lack of scientific design in our early 1960's child car carriers. We'd strap the twins in the carriers, take them to the car and dump them onto the back seat. There was no need to buckle them in. Our 1958 blue Rambler Station wagon didn't have seatbelts. In those days we put our trust in God and hoped for the best. A plastic St. Christopher statue glued to the dashboard was an added amulet meant to garner additional heavenly protection for the road. Such a display of idolatry wouldn't bod well for our young family, having converted to Mormonism in 1958. Faith, prayer and a well placed trust in our mother's quick reactions and eye to hand coordination kept us safe until we bought our first car with belts and workable locks!

Jon and Janice. Summer 1963.

Is it just me or do these two look like an old elderly couple? Picture them out of their child restraints and in rocking chairs on a front porch on a late summer afternoon. Grandpa fell asleep with the newspaper. Knitting sent grandma to dozing. Their old yellow dog will wake them soon. Its out in the woods looking for raccoons. After supper it will be a bit of TV then bedtime.

Janice and Jon, 1964 / 65.

It's out of the bath just in time for a photograph. The Williamson's had company. Luella's brother was visiting from Spearfish. Uncle Jon was 22 years old.

Victor 7 years old. Kim 8 years old. Janice and Jon were 2. Kevin was 5.

I'm liking the fact that I had a bit of hair in this photo. Gone was the Russian Gulag hair cut accompanied by prison pallor. And wouldn't you know, Miss Picture Perfect Kim is just that, picture perfect. What's up with me with my hand stuck in my mouth?
This picture was taken shortly before our Uncle John left for his LDS mission to California.

Take a moment and enjoy our family's extensive art collection above the sofa. That's a paint by number Jesus (and I'm not kidding). And take a moment to stare at Kevin's shirt. Psychedelic man, real groovy. Today's kids got nothing on us. You want style? Look no further than the mid 1960's.

Another picture of the Williamson's shortly before moving from Signal Heights to our new rental home at 210 North 42nd Street, Rapid City. We needed a bigger home. Charles and Luella sold our duplex on Signal Heights to a lady for $1.00. The lady took over the bank payments. The move was hard on me. I had lovingly adopted a young struggling tree in our front yard and didn't want to leave it. In reality, our moving saved the tree. I was over zealous in my watering. It was also sad leaving my two best friends. Marty Gerber , Chucky Spears and I made the perfect Trio of Terror in our Signal Heights neighborhood.

Charles Williamson with his step father, Emerson Liessman. 1964.

A Family Outing with Friends to Rapid City's Story Book Island. 1964/65.
Luella took the picture.

And once again, get an eyeful of Little Miss Rapid City in perfect pose. Kim was such a camera hog. Nothing like the shy, diminutive, soft spoken and camera shy person she is today.

I look like cousin Dufus from Whitewood, come to visit his city cousins. I needed a pair of shorts that actually fit? Can you imagine my struggle going to the bathroom? Getting to the zipper through those multiple fold overs cinched up around my waist must have been the cause for many an accident.

Good Grief......

Running Through the Sprinkler. 1964/65.
Victor, Kim and Kevin with an unknown lad of a Family Friend.

The sprinkler was the height of summer fun for us in the mid 1960's. The nearest public swimming pool was miles away so we made do with what we had. Kevin is proudly showing off his muscles. He was hyper. You got use to it. What you didn't get use to were his tantrums. I'm convinced Kevin was an undiagnosed manic depressive. He ran circles around everyone when he was on top of the mood curve. When he'd hit bottom you ran for your life. He ran after you with anything, and I mean anything he could find that would cause death or severe injury if you crossed him. I grew up with bruises caused by Tonka Trucks travelling thrown across the room at fifty miles per hour. He knew he had one chance and one chance only to get Kim and I down crying. If he missed or didn't throw with everything he had, he knew we would beat the devil out of him.

Uncle Marvin and Aunt Pam. 1964/65.

Luella's youngest brother Marvin was visiting us the day our sprinkler picture was taken. I thought I'd finish this post with their picture. Aunt Pam sure turned a lot of heads - beautiful inside and out.


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