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Boise Voices

Boise Voices

Oral History Project

Cheryl Dodge

I've Always Drifted Back (0:12)

Cheryl Dodge

    Most of the people in my neighborhood were German, and Finnish, and we had a lot of Polish. I've always drifted back to this neighborhood because I've always loved it here. Most of my happy memories are here.

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    • My name is Cheryl Ann Dodge. My maiden name was Warmouth--there were a lot of Germans and Polish and Finnish that lived in this area. I was born here in Portland, at Portland Sanitarium Hospital, which is no longer existing, and that was 1944--that was during the World War II years.

      How old were you when you moved to the Boise neighborhood?

      I was 2 1/2 years old when I moved here.

      Where was your childhood home located? Did you enjoy living there?

      Yes, I lived on the corner of Failing and Vancouver until I was a teenager and I did love living there because it was a great neighborhood and my best friend was there, who is still my best friend after all these years.
    • Did you ever feel sad or lonely?

      Yeah, I felt sad sometimes because my brother and my sister died--my younger ones died--within two years of each other, so I was an only child until I was eleven. In those days there were a lot of illnesses they couldn't, you know--they were just learning to deal with. Unfortunately they didn't have the ones that were very well handled in those days.

      Your best friend, was she like your sister?

      Yes she was, because like I said, I didn't have another sister until I was eleven. So we spent a great deal of time together and her mother and her Aunt would take us to the beach, Cannon Beach, during the summer for a whole week so we'd spend a whole week at the beach together. Halloween we'd have parties and birthday parties and Christmas together. We used to listen to Uncle Bob and the Squirrel Cage and the Cinnamon Bear at Christmas time, we'd listen to him on the radio. Yeah, it was great.
    • What were the countries of origin of most people in your neighborhood?

      Most of the people in my neighborhood were German, and we had some Finnish, and we had a lot of Polish because we have a big Polish church here. But often many of the families, like my Polish grandfather, changed their last name to something that was easier to say. My grandparents lived down the street and their name was Thomachevsky and they changed it to Thomas. My best childhood friend's name was Karin Mackey, but her last name was actually Newkinnen, because they were Finnish. And after the Vanport flood, many of the--we used to call them "black people"--were moving into our neighborhood too. So it was quite a mixed neighborhood.
    • What were some of your experiences during the Civil Rights movement?

      I think many of us didn't understand quite what was going on. I think a lot of it was more evident in the South. I didn't really find out how much prejudice there was until I became an adult and realized that we had groups called the Klu Klux Klan here who were against black people, Catholics and various other things that they didn't like.

      But somehow we seemed to be mostly sheltered from that sort of thing and as children we didn't realize there was such a thing as prejudice. We just made friends with everybody and we didn't think about things like that.

      My parents never understood what all the anger was about. I think that maybe they do now, but at that time they didn't understand what all the problems were.
    • What is your favorite memory about living in this neighborhood?

      I think my favorite memory was Karin and her family and our neighbors. And my Aunt and Uncle lived right next door to Karin for a long time. And of course we knew the Jacobs and the Kaisers. It was happier, easier times in those days. We knew that everybody was watching out for us. We used to spend holidays together and spend time in each other's houses. It was really great. We didn't have to worry so much about things in those days.

      How do you feel about the changes in this neighborhood?

      Well, I think change just comes. When it first changed and we had so many problems with the gangs and the shootings and stuff, it was really hard. It was hard for families and mothers worried a great deal about their children. A lot of people moved out. But it seems to be coming around again. I've always drifted back to this neighborhood because I've always loved it here. Most of my happy memories are here. I still live over by Penninsula Park. I think things are kind of turning around in the neighborhood. Things are picking up--houses are being painted and yards are being done, new buildings. It's very nice to see some of the changes, and it's sad to see some of the old things go, of course.
    • Did you ever get in trouble when you were growing up?

      I did get in trouble when I was a little kid--with my best friend Karin. People would smoke a lot more in those days and they would often throw their used cigarettes in the street. So my girlfriend and I found a couple of real longer ones and so we were pretending we were smoking--I think we were about five years old at the time. And Mrs. Jacobs saw us, so at that time she called my parents who came rushing outside to get those things out of our mouths and we were instructed that we could not do that again.

      Well, I guess we weren't so much in trouble the other time--we were doing clay work in the Mackey's kitchen when that earthquake hit. I can't remember what year it was, must have been in the 40s. And of course we thought that was great fun because our chairs were rocking back and forth--we were up on stools--and Grandma Mackey was screaming and hollering, "Get the children out of the house!"

      We thought it was great fun, of course, we didn't realize it was dangerous and we could have been hurt. We just laughed and laughed and laughed. And then we laughed at Grandma Mackey because she was running around screaming and trying to turn things off and Lillian was trying to get us out of the house and into the backyard. My mother was coming down the alley screaming, saying "Where's my baby?!" But I think the thing was, the discipline we received as children helped us become the people we are now. I think I was probably in my twenties before I realized that discipline, your parents' discipline was not to be mean but to be loving, and to protect you.
    • What businesses do you remember in the neighborhood growing up?

      We did not have a park down this street; I'm not sure what the name of it is--Unthank. There used to be a grocery store there where I'd go to buy groceries. My mother would send me with a list and a little bit of money, and the grocer knew everybody so if he wasn't sure about something he'd call your house and ask your mother for sure, "Is that what she wanted or would you like this butter or that butter?" and then they would get the order right and we would walk home with our groceries for our mother. On Mississippi we used to have the Rio Theater, and those have been torn down. I think that it's right next to Pistils. My mother, who I used to think looked like a movie star when I was a little kid, she took me to a movie and Ava Gardner was on the screen and I just yelled out loud, "Mommy, that's you!" She was so embarrassed, she took me out of the theater.

      And Phipps Pharmacy used to be where that coffee shop is now--that used to be our place to go get Katie Keene Comic Books, which are no longer in existence, but boy they were a lot of fun because you used to be able to design clothes for Katie.

      We had a haberdashery--that's a hat shop--it was down about one about one more block on Mississippi and the lady used to have all kinds of beautiful hats in the windows on both sides.

      Hilltop Tavern was right on the corner of Mississippi and Fremont--I believe there's a furniture manufacturer there now. But in those days families could go. I used to go there with my Dad and my Uncle and my Mom, even when they were having a beer.

      There was a Wonderbread Bread bakery here, which used to take up a whole block; now there's just an empty lot sitting there.

      We had a nursery over on Williams Avenue that grew camellia bushes.

      We had an ice-cream store, that I'm sure was probably built before 1900. We used to get our ice-cream and we used to get our wax lips and mustaches and what not--and cigarettes, as I remember.

      I can remember kitty-corner from us on Vancouver Avenue was Champion Gas Station and they had a big ice-house because a lot of the people in the neighborhood did not have refrigerators, they had ice-boxes so they would go over and get their chunk of ice once every week--or once every few days--and keep their food cold that way. A lot of businesses have gone away. You've got new ones coming in, so things have changed a whole lot since my grandparents were also in this neighborhood, both sets.
    • How is the world different now from when you were a child?

      Well, I was born in the war years. The war years were kind of tough on families. They had to give up a lot, food-wise, but they did what they had to do to get through things. My uncles were also living with my Grandma during the war and my mother also because my Dad was a sea. So I was thoroughly spoiled by the time my father got back from the Navy.

      My parents are still both living. They're 85 and 86 years old. They live in Oregon City. They've been married 65 years.

      Probably after the war was some of the best times because the men came home and married and raised families and there was lots of open land. We didn't have as much diversified foods at that time. There was mostly seasonal foods, so you kind of cooked according to what was growing at the time.

      Most of the mothers were home taking care of their children, that was their jobs, and of course the fathers went to work. There were a few families living with multiple generations. We didn't have as many cars. We were one of the few people in the neighborhood that had a car. Most families did not, or if they did have a car, the father usually had it with him at work.

      Most of us listened to radios for our entertainment. When we did get televisions they were very small--they were probably 12 inches--and they were in huge cabinets with just little tiny screens. We did a lot of reading.

      We did have a tinker, he was a man who would go around--this one would sell you pots or pans--he would sharpen your knives and your scissors. And he drove a horse. We didn't see too many horse-driven vehicles in those days but occasionally we would see one.
    • This is a picture of my Dad with his Silver Star that he won during the war. He was what's known as a war hero. My Dad was in Pearl Harbor one day before it was bombed but his ship had just left during the bombing. They were one of them sent out trying to find the Japanese at that time. My father told me about coming back to Pearl Harbor and he said it was just devastating. So many people had been killed--civilians and the Navy and of course the flyers. The harbor was covered with oil and there were still fires burning. It was pretty bad. It was pretty bad.

      This is USS Portland, which was named after Portland, Maine. And a big hole got blown in the side and the Japanese could see the lights and so they were firing at the ship so my father went down in amongst all the metal and fire and bodies and covered up the lights so that they couldn't see the ship to shoot at it any more. Yeah, he was quite a guy.

      Dad's Silver Star
    • - How would you like to be remembered?

      Well, I think I'd like to be remembered as a decent person. I told my husband one time on my tombstone I wanted it very simple: "She came, and she went." I said, "I don't want a lot of fanfare. I want a Mass, of course, and my family about me, but other than that, I just feel that I'm just one person of many who's contributed to society. I wouldn't have any books written about me or anything like that but I've lived a good life and I've been very fortunate in my husband and my family.
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