My Sister Patsy Remembers Orlando


While my father was stationed in Orlando, Florida, he, Mother, my sister Patsy, and later my sister Nancy (born in Orlando), lived in an apartment in a house on Ivanhoe Blvd. (named for small Lake Ivanhoe, which was directly across the street). I love my sister Patsy’s description of how she remembers life in the early 1940s in the house on Ivanhoe Blvd. This is a pretty detailed recollection for Patsy, considering she was only six years old when they moved away. She wrote the following to me in July 2008:

Dad was stationed in Orlando, Florida, during WWII. He was a commissioned officer — Major. We lived in the downstairs apartment of a large house on Lake Ivanhoe. There were palm trees lining the front of the yard facing the lake. The road in front was paved with brick and it made a clapping sound when cars drove by. There was a sidewalk in front next to the street and I would ride my tricycle from one end of the block to the other. Directly in front of our house was a dock that stretched out into the water about fifty feet. Dad would take me fishing from that dock. We have pictures of all of us in a row boat on the lake but my memories don’t include that. Mother wasn’t fond of boats and I don’t think we went out very often. Besides, there were and still are alligators in the lake.

One vivid memory I have is of riding my tricycle to a neighbor’s house. There were two older boys living there besides a girl my age. The boys played a trick on us by jumping off the roof of their house and pretending to be dead. I remember running home crying to Momma. I thought the boys were dead.

The house seemed huge to me. There was a back yard with lots of trees that shaded the yard to the point that sometimes it was hard to see the sky. I could see the back yard from my bedroom and I remember seeing Momma hanging out clothes on a line.

In the apartment above lived a childless couple, last name Mackensie. They called him Mack. Mack’s hobby was drawing cartoons. He would draw cartoons for Dad some of which Dad used to decorate his first travel trailer in Dallas.

Mother and Mrs. Mack did exercises every morning. I can remember trying to do the exercises with them. One day I noticed that Mrs. Mack never wore any underpants. Funny, the things you remember.

Dad worked on the base. Mother and I would take Daddy to work and keep the car. Then, in the evening we would go back and pick him up. She would wait in the car and let me go in to get him. I remember walking down the long hall with the wooden floor, clicking my shoes and trying to whistle. One day I whistled and was so excited that I began running to tell Daddy. The other men who worked there would stop and call out my name and say hello. I felt so important.

There were a lot of citrus orchards in Florida and some of the orchards were close to the street. The tree limbs would hang over the fences. I can remember picking grapefruit from the low hanging trees.

When the war was over Daddy got a job with USG (US Gypsum Co.) as a Civil Engineer. We moved to Des Plaines, Illinois, near Chicago. The house was two story with an enclosed winding staircase to the bedrooms upstairs. I remember nothing more about the house. Somewhere there is a picture of the outside. It was a housing addition and there were no trees in sight, just lines of houses.

I was enrolled in a Lutheran kindergarten but the only thing I remember about the school were the stairs leading up to the entrance. I must have had a thing about stairs.

In 1946 Daddy was transferred to Dallas, Texas. They bought the house at 3514 Mt. Pleasant. I was enrolled in First Grade at George Peabody Elem School.

The house the Towners lived in on Ivanhoe Blvd. in Orlando is no longer there. It was torn down and replaced with what appears to be a lake view luxury hotel or apartment building.


Cost of Living, 1940s, ’50s, ’60s

I interrupt this program… I have decided to insert the following cost of living information into the stream of my posts. In my father’s files, I found a collection of VERY old files that I actually didn’t remember I had. This post is a recap of what I found:

1943 – Monthly health insurance premium for Daddy was $4.14; for Mother, the premium started out at $2.50 and went up to $7.50 in April 1943; Patsy (who was three years old), $5.04. Piano rental was $7.00/month. Daddy had a line item in his monthly budget for milk ranging from $8/month to $11+/month for the family.

1946 – Bought a new house on Mt. Pleasant in Oak Cliff, Dallas, for $12,000. This is the house we were living in when I was born. We lived there until 1962.

1947-48 – While working for U. S. Gypsum Company, Daddy grossed $300/month in 1947, which increase to $350.00/month in May 1948.

1950 – A receipt from Methodist Hospital for my birth shows a total charge of $71.85, including three days room and board, anesthesia, pharmaceuticals, and baby care.

1951 – In January Daddy grossed $350/month. In August 1951 he grossed $425/month.

1960s – Daddy worked for Robert  S. Watson construction in the 1960s, and payroll check stubs indicate that in January 1960 he made $165/week ($8,580/year), and in April 1961 he made $230/week ($11,960).

His check book stubs from 1945 are interesting:                                        


May 7, 1945        Southern Bell Telephone                                      $9.94

May 7, 1945        Rent                                                                          50.00

May 8, 1945        Beauty College  Permanent                                  12.25

May 12, 1945      Berkson’s(?)      Dress for mother                          7.09

May 21, 1945      Cole Bros.          Clothes                                         20.00

May 23, 1945      Cole Bros           Shoes                                            15.00

June  1, 1945       So. Bell Telephone                                                   1.64

June 1, 1945        Florida Power                                                            5.00

June 1, 1945        Doctor                                                                         4.00

In 1954 Daddy remodeled the house on Mt. Pleasant in Oak Cliff, Dallas, Texas. Specifications for that project indicate the cost was or was estimated to be $2,225.00. I was too young to remember this project in progress, but it included enclosing the front porch and making it part of the kitchen, new linoleum flooring in the kitchen, converting the garage into a bedroom, and a new front door with new orientation. He bought 60 sq. yards of carpet and pad from Sears which cost $498, including installation. They bought a new Davis couch for $299.00. (I assume this was the scratchy couch my sisters and I remember so well.)