$600 Molding


The folloiwng vignette reflects how much she would sacrifice for ďher JimĒ, in this case, even to the detriment of her children. In the summer of 1953, our family left Seward, Alaska for a 6 week vacation in Naples, Utah, momís home. iOn the way back, dad wanted to go to buy some picture frame molding.  We drove to Seattle in a couple of days camping out along the way like we always did to save money. Plus us kids enjoyed sleeping in sleeping bags under the stars anyway - no tents, just sleeping bags on the ground. We were asleep before dad even finished blowing up his airmattress.
     We got to visit dadís childhood friend Blaine Sampson, who was as happy to see dad as dad was to see him. After the war, he had set up shop at Boeing where he worked until retirement in the Ď80ís. We stayed with the Sampsons for several days which gave time to dad to browse the picture molding shops. He could buy picture molding in Anchorage -not Seward- but the price was prohibitive on our limited budget.
     Dad  was churning pictures out at a prodigious rate in Seward. Pastels, charcoal and chalk were easy for him. Pictures grew quickly.  He had at least one on a drawing board at all times and sometime several sitting on the back of the couch or in the basement waiting for picture frames.  This photo shows just how busy he was, and you can see that the molding on the wall was pretty simple. He was a longshoreman to make money to support his painting habit. The interesting thing about this particular photo is that he was actually sitting there under orders from mom. She was not satisfied with the quality of his drafting so she decided that in order to improve his skill, he would spend 10 minutes a day doing q uick and dirty sketches of any of us kids who was in the vicinity. Then the sketch was trashed. He was about 36.
         He made all of his own frames which was pretty remarkable given the primitive condition he had in the basement to work.  He had a small corner mitre box for constructing one corner with a 90 degree angle.  He needed a lot of frames or molding  but scrappy little Seward didnít sell fancy things like picture frames.  If he wanted to buy prebuild frames he had to drive 128 miles through rough potholed dirt roads to Anchorage, but even then the selection was limited. And expensive. And perhaps more importantly, using a premade picture frame denied him the pleasure of creating his own.  So for all sorts of reason, dad really did need to buy some molding and have it shipped to Seward. He (more likely mom) had saved several hundred dollars for this purpose.  It was agreed on at the beginning of the trip that we would come back via Seattle so he could buy a variety of molding. 
       He seemed to have known the supplier that he would use. When he had finished his shopping, he had gone nuts. He bought a large lot and arranged for it to be shipped by ship to Seward where weíd pick it up. The problem was that he spent $600. I donít know how much mom had expected he would spend but not $600.  What probably happened was that dad got excited in the warehouse.  Look at the simple black molding in the photo above. Now expose him to fancy moldings and naturally he would blow a fuse. Trying to be reasonable, and to defend himself against Marie, he doubtless put pencil to paper and wrote out his best estimate of what it would cost for us to finish the trip back. Then he committed $600 to buy molding. As they say, that was a big number even then, 1953.
     The problem with his best-estimate was that he didnít take into account the fact that we had to buy food in addition. 6 days of food, for 4 people. That made mom about as mad at him as I recall. But the deed was done and we had to make the best of it. That meant cooked cereal for breakfast with sugar, no milk.  The menu for the rest of each of those 6 days was one sandwich for lunch, and another for dinner. Nothing else. The bread was getting old bythe time we got home, and we were sick of sandwiches. The only jam we had was that which was given to us in Vernal by relatives, watermelon jam. I still canít eat the stuff.
     In spite of his insensitivity, mom did not rag on him long. She probably even knew going in what was going to happen and was probably resigned. He needed the molding so she would make do so he could have it.  Note the effect on the kids. That was not a unique situation.


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