Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Janet's Neighbors - Janet and Janet Kay

[Posted for Janet by Rita]
When we moved to Oklahoma City in 1956 we found a present sitting on our front porch.  A little red headed girl covered in freckles named Janet.  She was four and lived next door with her mom and dad Ray and Virginia Edson.  She was an only child and we had a big family and she just blended in. Since she was there first she went by Janet and I became Janet Kay, I still am when I'm in Oklahoma.  Her dad worked in refrigeration and brought home big boxes we used to make cars and houses and the best one, an igloo shaped box a store had used for advertising and was throwing out.   They had a station wagon and her dad would load up the back with neighborhood kids and take us to Orange Julius or to Lake Hefner to play on the fishing dock.  Heaven help the car that had to sit behind us at a stop light.  Her mom worked at the state capitol in an era when nobody's mother worked so Janet was at our house all the time.  We loved to go to her house because she had an air conditioner and a television.  We both had red hair and freckles and when we got a little older we would try anything to get rid of them. In case you are wondering lemon juice does not work. We don't have as much red hair any more but the freckles are still there.  Ray was kind of grumpy but you could tell it was just a front and I thought Virginia was the most beautiful, glamorous woman in the world.  When my mother died she took me to their house and sat and rocked me for hours, something I will never forget. Ray and Virginia moved eventually and her parents moved in next to us so we got instant grandparents.  Janet spent so much time at our grandmother's house she called her grandma and would spend the summer out at the farm with us.  We don't have neighborhoods like this anymore.  Every mother on the block was your mother and if she told you not to do something she meant it and then your parents got a phone call.  I especially loved summer, very few people had window air conditioners and after supper the parents sat out in the yard while the kids played till it got too dark to see.  You formed bonds that lasted a lifetime. Ray and Virginia will always live in my heart.

1.      My sister Jo Ann, Janet and my sister Jeannie going to a birthday party with a prize for the best homemade hat.  My mom made all of the hats and Jeannie won first prize.  1956
2.      Jeannie, Jo Ann, Janet, Jerry and me, the thumb sucker. 1957
3.      Ray, Virginia, and Janet on vacation, Janet does not recall where but this is about 1956.
4.      Virginia, my mom Lorraine and a very unhappy Janet.  This was such a surprise, I only have about three pictures of my mom so this was such a treat.   1959
5.      Ray and Virginia, she was so beautiful and there are very few pictures of Ray and he rarely smiled, date unknown.
6.      Me, my headless sister Jeannie and Janet, I'm not sure why she needed the swim cap to play in the blow up pool. 1958
7.      Janet, Jo Ann, Jeannie and the fat baby is me.  1956
8.      Easter Sunday – Jeannie, Jo Ann, me and Janet.  Easter meant new clothes, gloves, hats, purses and my favorite, patent leather shoes which were for Sunday only. 1958
9.      Janet Kay and Janet.  My mom made all of our clothes and now I know why I love rick rack so much. She also made matching outfits for their dolls.  I liked Lincoln logs. About 1958
10.  My mom, Jeannie in a shirt my mom made from bandanas, Janet and me. 1962
11.  Janet and me in front of her dad's station wagon.  We so wanted to be baton twirlers, the cheerleaders wore wool skirts down to their knees and sweaters but the baton twirlers had sparkly uniforms, who wouldn't want to wear that?
12.  Janet in front of her dad's old station wagon.  I put this in for a reason, the bush at the corner of the house had these spiky berries that we used for our mud pies.  We had a mimosa tree that provided seed pods and pink flowers and we made lovely pies.
13.  This picture is priceless to my family, we do not have any pictures of my sister June when she was a baby.  My mother was already sick and she does not have a baby book or any pictures so to find this in the package of pictures Janet sent was unbelievable.  We are so grateful. 1963
14.  Janet, Uncle Charlie, and me.  He was not our real uncle but everyone called him Uncle Charlie.  On the back it said “Put me in a watch and call me Crystal”.  My sister said he said it all the time, we never did know what it meant.
15.  Me, Donna Maize, my sister Jeannie, someone we don't remember and Janet with her new dog.
16.  Me, Janet and my sister Jo Ann “hiding” behind the tree.  I have my beloved brownie camera in my hand, I never had any film but I was a devoted photographer.
17.  I'm the hobo, Janet is the witch, and my little sister June is Mickey mouse.
18.  My sister Jo Ann's wedding, Janet is on the left end, I'm on the other end and my sister is the bride. Too bad it is black and white, all three of us are red heads. My sister made all of the dresses for her wedding and two of my sisters. 1965
19.  Janet's birthday party, her mom took us all to see The Sound of Music, Janet is holding the album at the edge of the picture.  How fitting since this is the fiftieth anniversary of the film.
20.  Janet getting my little sister June ready for the wedding, you can see the beautiful blue of the dresses.
21.  Janet on Easter Sunday posing in front of her dad's car.  Her parents did not go to church so she always went with us.
22.  I'm not sure what is going on here, we are out in the garage and when I first saw the picture I could not figure out who the two boys were.  It finally hit me that it is my sister and her best friend Donna, let’s just say they had not blossomed yet.  1963
23.  Janet and I serving cake and punch at the wedding of the girl who grew up across the street from us.  This was back when the reception was punch, cake, and pillow mints.  1983
24.  On March 7th of this year they had a 70th birthday party for my sister Jo Ann.  I could not go but Janet filled in for me. Left to right back row, my sister Jeannie, Janet, sister June, front row sister Jo Ann and my brother Jerry.
25.  Last picture, I have no idea what was going on but this is the last picture I have of Janet before they moved.       

I am so grateful to Janet Edson Simpkins for all the hard work she put in digging out old pictures for the quilt.  What a treat to see pictures of my mom and that precious one of my sister.  June and I were so young we don't remember my mother so a picture of her is priceless.  So to our sister from another mother thank you and you will always be a beloved member of our family.

P.S.   I was unable to find any copyright information for the image on the cover.  I had an autograph book with the same pony tail girl when I was little.  I asked the lady who was selling it on Etsy to check and she could not find a copyright on the photo album which she estimated to be from the early fifties.  Any copyright infringement is totally unintended.


  1. Such wonderful memories! I love your pony tail quilt

  2. Wow! So much heart went into this! It's really amazing!

  3. Your story was amazing, and very personal. Thank you for sharing your photos and your memories with all of us.

    Your quilt captured the pure essence of that by-gone time in our lives when, as you say, every mother on the block was everyone else's mother, and the times shared with neighbors became part of our own personal

  4. Nice story - good memories of neighbors.

  5. Janet, thank you for such a lovely story about your growing up years and the importance of neighbors! I had a similar experience with my beloved best friend Kitty from the time I was three until I married. I love your Pony Tail Gal, too, on your quilt!

  6. Wonderful story about your neighbors. Your quilt is adorable! Love the pink and black. You are inspired!

  7. Wonderful memories and a delightful quilt!! The background stitching and ric-rac are perfect and elicit the feel of the times. Such fun!

  8. Thanks for sharing your memories of a very special neighbor and a special time.

  9. Thanks you for sharing your "neighbor" memories.
    Your quilt, with the pinks and blues, so lovingly shouts the innocents and hopes of the '50's.

  10. A very nice remembrance quilt of your dear childhood neighbors!

  11. Thank you all for letting me thank a beloved friend and huge part of my life, I know the pictures are not interesting to anyone but my family and Janet but this quilt meant a lot to my family and to Janet Edson Simpkins.

  12. This is such a special tribute to honor your dear friend. I trust she has seen it. Love the album cover.

  13. Thank you for sharing such precious childhood memories and friendship. I'm glad you were able to get pictures of your mom in there too.