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.