All posts by Jane Pinel

Birthday and Moving On

The days in Glendale passed quickly. Uncle Max arrived with his new wife Rosemond and their adopted son, Steve, who was about 10 years old. While they were visiting we celebrated Lesley’s 4th birthday with birthday cake and ice cream and games. She dressed up in her new cowboy hat and toy pistols with holsters.Les w: guns

She also received a new bicycleBicycle

Steve and Lesley enjoyed flying a kite over the desert. However, once it was way out in space no one wanted the job of reeling it in, too much string to rewind.

After about a week Uncle Max and his family drove on to California to visit friends.

Roland was finishing up the jobs he had committed to and we also started to think about moving on.

But first there’s a little background information you need to know:

Several years before we left New England Roland’s mother’s sister, Helen, and her husband, Ken, and two daughters, Nancy and Priscilla, moved to Escondido, California. Her other sister, Florence, middle aged and unmarried, went out to California to visit Helen. She was on vacation and due to come home when Roland’s mother received a telegram saying, “Getting married. Staying in California.” It turned out that Roland’s spinster (and very formal) aunt had met and married a cowboy while visiting Helen. The family was shocked.

We were about to leave for California to meet the new cowboy uncle and visit Helen and her family.

Desert Life

For a month and a half we lived on the desert, parked beside Uncle Edwin’s little house and kitchen trailer. The wind blew all the time. Every once in awhile a “duster” came along. That’s what the native’s called it but I thought it was a mini-tornado. If I had clothes drying on the clothesline the wind would scrunch them all up in one spot on the line. If Roland was out building a house he had to jump in the car for shelter and the wind would send his pile of lumber flying in the air, landing in a heap. One had to fight the wind to do any outside work.

One day we found a little Jack rabbit running on the desert. Roland placed him in my shoe to take a picture. He peed in my shoe. Then we set him free.

Baby jack rabbitBaby jack rabbit copy

When April 11th arrived we celebrated Sandy’s very first birthday. Fascinated by the birthday cake she reached out to touch the lit candles. The ice cream and cake were a big hit. In the late afternoon, when it was cooler, Lesley took her for a ride in her wagon. Then she played outside in her playpen. Sandy in playpen copy

We all enjoyed the desert. Roland found steady work building sheds and small houses. We liked being near Native Americans, watching them and learning their ways. The man always walked in front followed by his wife who carried the money to pay for things. The children were well behaved.

The landscape was dry and flat (and windy) but open, so different from all the trees in New England. The sunrises and sunsets were lovely. The sky was BIG.



While You Are Waiting

While we stayed on the desert with Uncle Edwin, Roland built several buildings including a small store for Uncle Edwin to sell his wares; a tiny barn with double doors that opened to hang products on the inside of the doors. It stood near the street so passing cars could see the  inside.

The children, and Inky, our Cocker Spaniel, were loving the freedom of the desert. We bought a wagon for Lesley. She pulled Sandy around the front yard, and over to the goat pen to watch the goats. On quiet afternoons, when Sandy was napping, Lesley liked to draw. Here is a sample of the paper dolls she created, even adding bare feet to put on to go to bed.


Meanwhile the children were growing. Sandy would soon have her first birthday on April 11th and Lesley would be four on May 28th.

Trailer Tales Chapter 15

Journal March 5, 1953
I went shopping for food this morning in Glendale. I took a huge bag of wash to the laundromat. Then I sent a birthday telegram to my mom. Her birthday is today. We cleaned the car and the trailer today.

At 10 am Uncle Edwin milked the goat so Lesley could watch. He has a goat and two kids, three ducks, one mother cat and five kittens. Lots of fun for Lesley and Sandy to watch.

We enjoyed relaxing today. It was a beautiful sunny day, but cool and breezy. Roland starts tomorrow doing some carpenter work for a neighbor who is crippled. His pay is $1.50 per hour.

Journal March 6, 1953
Roland started work today. He likes it very much. Lesley and I planted some flowers beside Uncle Edwin’s house; morning glories and mixed California flowers. Uncle Edwin really has a nice spot here. He seems well and happy.

Note: Uncle Edwin had to leave New England and move to Arizona because of asthma. He needed a dryer climate.

This evening Uncle Edwin and I went over to the Curve Restaurant (Where he works part time when he is well). Dee, the owner, invited us to dinner next Sunday at 3 pm. We met a cowpoke who had driven steers past our house this morning. I told him that Lesley admired him and he said he would come down and give her a ride on his horse. However, he may not remember as he was feeling quite happy.

Journal March 7, 1953
Roland finished his job today but he is hoping another will pan out – building a house for his customer’s father.

This afternoon I took the children shopping. I bought only necessities, however. We sat and talked all evening with Uncle Edwin.

Journal March 8, 1953
Slept late. Did odd jobs and the wash.

We went to dinner at The Curve restaurant then drove downtown and back. All went to bed early.

Journal March 9, 1953
Lesley tells us she is going to build a slide out of a board that has “nuffin’ living under it.” (From us telling her to be careful of scorpions and other Arizona poisonous bugs.) We took her to town today and bought a new bicycle with two wheels, and helper wheels. She was excited.

Roland went to get fill this morning for his new job. They will pour the concrete slab tomorrow. He really loves the desert. Perhaps because he enjoys the job so much. I’ll bet it gets very hot here in the summer.

Received a whole bunch of mail today. Everyone is fine at home.

Journal March 10, 1953
Les practiced on her new bike all day.

Photo Coming

Roland got the job of building the house and finishing another house. That’s a few weeks of solid work ahead.

He and Uncle Edwin went to an auction tonight to buy a washing machine and a bed. They are having a great time together,  but they came home with nothing.

Trailer Tales Chapter 14

Journal March 3, 1953
We all finally had breakfast. Lesley had two dishes of baby cereal, a banana and milk and we had steak, toast and coffee. Lesley had a swing in the playground. Then off we went across the desert, or if this isn’t the desert, what will the desert be like?

We drove through beautiful, towering, jagged rocky mountains. We stopped for lunch in a lovely roadside park with outdoor tables, water, etc., and mountains on every side. It was too cold and windy to eat outside.

We drove through El Paso, saw Mexican adobe houses and adobe bricks.We crossed on a high mountain, snow was on the mountain peaks. Then we drove through New Mexico to Deming. I am amazed at how much the west looks just like the old western movies.

We had no sooner stopped for the night and washed Sandy up when she fell out of her bed. She cried so hard she lost her breath for a second and passed out. We were so frightened. The trailer park man rushed us to the hospital where they misunderstood and tried to put me to bed because Sandy looked fine. There was no doctor on duty so they sent us to the doctors office. He said she was Ok. She did seem to be all right by that time. We returned to the trailer, relieved and exhausted. We washed the dishes, cleaned the refrigerator, made formula and went to bed.

Journal March 4, 1953
It was so cold last night that our water pipe froze but we all had a fine sleep. Our little rosy cheeked alarm clock didn’t go off until 7:10 am (Central time) 6:10 in Deming. (New Mexico time),

Lesley is getting into a cowboy spirit with jeans and cowboy hat. We took off for Phoenix about 8:30. At 9:15 we saw a train that had derailed and smashed. It didn’t look too serious. (A freight train – three or four train cars waiting.)

This afternoon we were stopped for the Arizona State Inspection. We squashed Inky down on the floor and also hoped they would not look at our license plate year. One fellow went into the trailer and made us throw out tangerines and the dirt on our house plant and wash the roots off. Another man took our marker number.. Then they sent us on our way.

After awhile a highway drivers license inspector passed us on the road. Brother, will we be glad to get to Phoenix.

We stopped for supper and had to change tires again. Now the trailer is swaying all over the road. We arrived at Uncle Edwin’s about 8:30 pm. He was glad to see us and so were we glad to see him! We talked until 1 am.

Trailer Tales Chapter 13

Journal February 28, 1953
We went around in circles in New Orleans The road was torn up and route 90 signs were everywhere (E & W). We used our street map to get out of town.

We were on the road at 6:40 this morning. When we crossed the Mississippi River the fog was so thick you could hardly see the river.  About 11:30 am we stopped for gas and promptly had “water in the gas” trouble.  We stopped for lunch while Roland drained water from the gas tank. We hit the road again.

What a miserable spot to live. Swamp and stagnant water on all sides. Dead animals all over the road. Flat, flat low country. Towns are dirty and neglected. We stopped for supper beside the road and prepared the children for bed. Then we put them to bed in the car and set out again. We crossed the border into Texas. Stopped for gas in Beaumont, and then for the night in Liberty, Texas. When we pulled in to the trailer park we had another flat tire. Roland jacked up the car and trailer and we all went to bed.  After today we have no car registration!

Journal March 1, 1953
What a dirty trailer park. All kinds of bugs in the bathroom – holes in the ground outside the trailer from some animal. It’s swampy and looks like drainage in the yard. Roland fixed the tire and we left about 10 am. Got another flat tire at 12 noon so we stopped for lunch. About 5:30 Lesley spotted a merry-go-round so we stopped so she could ride, then we dined and drove on to Fredricksberg. We stopped at Maughn’s Trailer Park. Very nice and clean. We showered and went to bed.

Journal March 2, 1953
We were off at 8:30 am. The countryside is much more interesting, hilly and looks like the land in a western movie. We went over high hills this morning. We stopped for a picnic lunch in a lovely roadside park just west of Sonora, Texas. There was a windmill to pump water- tables – trees and fireplaces neatly stacked with wood – a style over the fence.

Lunch at a Texas picnic area

Texas picnic area

We drove on but at 2:25 pm our engine was boiling. We stopped and the radiator was practically dry.

We stopped for the night at Balmorhea State Park. Lesley went swimming. The ducks were swimming in the swimming pool. We were only hooked up to water, no electricity. One candle burned out but we had one small one left. It was hot and oppressive when we went to bed. We felt closed in by all this space somehow.

When we woke up at 5:30 am it was freezing and both children were crying. We took them both into our bed and turned on the oven and the oil stove. Soon it was warm. I had Sandy’s water to boil to make her formula. I had it all boiled and Roland used it for the dishes. Had to start again.

Trailer Tales Chapter 12

Journal   February 26, 1953
Note: It occurred to us today that our trailer and car registration runs out in two days. What to do??? Can’t make Arizona in two days. Not time for Connecticut to send it. We have decided to send it in with Uncle Edwin’s address for a return address – and cross our fingers.

Roland and I got up about 5 am, jumped into our clothes, made our bed, and hooked up the trailer. Then we carried our “sleeping sweeties” out to the car and tucked them in, but they both woke up.

It was pitch black and foggy. Then it started to rain. We drove away without our doormat, too.

Sandy and Les got dressed and washed up in the car. Sandy had her breakfast – then we stopped for ours at a restaurant after getting beyond the beach (beautiful white sand). The restaurant was dirty and we were sorry we stopped there.

We drove on, and made good time until we stopped for gas. Then we had carburetor trouble (flooding). We got stuck several times and it started to rain again. Finally one mechanic came out and tapped the carburetor with his screwdriver. He said a bit of sand was lodged in it. All this took at least two hours.

We stopped for supper and put the kids in their nighties then drove on to New Orleans. It was hard to find a trailer park with a vacancy. Finally we got settled at Tropical Motor Court.

We have $1.00 left. What will we do if no money is at the post office tomorrow?

Journal February 27, 1953
Showered and cleaned up a bit. Roland did a wash in the automatic machine and hung it up. Then we went to see other trailers for sale. Finally we drove to the post office. First I went to the registered mail window. Nothing!! Then I walked way around to the general delivery window and waited while the man did bookkeeping. Then he thumbed through the letters until he found ours!! Oh boy. What a relief. We received two more – one from mom Ruggles and one from mom Pinel (hers said she was enclosing some money but none was there). Roland said if we hadn’t received our money from the bank it would have broken his heart.

Next I went to the bank where I had a bit of difficulty cashing the check. The bank wanted to know “where’s Braintree?” etc.?

We ate a barbecue lunch at curb service, and then went to see the French Quarter in New Orleans. Quite interesting. Came home for supper and put the children to bed. Then we called Braintree collect. Everyone is fine. Mom and Pop Pinel weren’t there as we were expected to call tomorrow night instead of tonight.

Trailer Tales Chapter 11

Journal  February 23, 1953

Roland started off early this morning to job hunt in St. Pete. I cleaned the house and washed.
Roland came home at noon and we decided to draw a little more out of the bank and push on to Phoenix. Roland will get a job in Phoenix and we will stay near my Uncle Edwin (who lives in Glendale, Arizona) for awhile. 

We went shopping in Clearwater this afternoon. Bought sandals for Les and Sandy, ice cream cones, and had heels put on Lesley’s saddle shoes.

Tonight I called Braintree. They had all been waiting for us to call last night. Everyone is fine. My Uncle Max, his wife Rosemond and son, Steve, started for the west by way of Miami last Saturday. We may see them on the way.

Journal February 24, 1953
Today we drove to Sarasota. It turned out to be a much longer trip than we thought it would be. We went to the circus winter headquarters where we saw the floats for next spring’s show. One was a little school house. Another was a little showboat pulled by two horses – very elaborate – a fine bit of work. One float was in the shape of a birthday cake, another was an outhouse.
We saw the elephants having their toenails fixed; baby elephants, and a horse being trained; plus the rest of the menagerie.

Filing elephants toenails

Elephants getting toenails filed

We reached home about 6:30 after stopping to pick up a large bunch of wash at a laundromat. The girl who worked there had thrown a green bag in with our wash. It turned everything green. Tonight I ironed while Roland snoozed.

Journal February 25, 1953
Got an early start (7:25 am). Fed and dressed Sandy in the car. Then dressed Lesley and stopped to eat breakfast on the way. The road was straight and flat. Little sand hills beside the road. Land crabs???

We made very good time until 3:30 pm when our right rear car tire went flat. Roland walked back to a gas station (Shell) with the flat tire. They were a new station and had no tubes in stock. Two hours and $3.98 later we started on our way. We stopped at a gas station in Youngstown, Florida for the night.

We have sent to our Braintree bank for $150 to be rushed to New Orleans. Our money is getting low so I don’t know what we’ll do if we don’t get to New Orleans tomorrow, or if the money isn’t there, or if we have repair bills, or etc.
Note: We forgot to take our TV off the shelf when we left this morning. Thankfully it landed in a box full of hoses and was saved.

Trailer Tales Chapter 10

Journal February 20, 1953 (Jane)
Off about 9:30 am. Sandy is so fussy with her new tooth. We drove on a long, straight, concrete, roller-coaster road beside a canal filled with ducks and Egrets (or something). Found a post office in the wilderness. Florida seems to be at least 70 % uninhabited swamp. At least uninhabited by people.

In the afternoon we started passing orange groves. We stopped and got a free drink of orange juice each (even Sandy). We bought a bag of oranges ($1). The orange trees were coming into blossom and the air was sweet with the smell of the blossoms.

We made good time today. We found a spot at Lion’s Trailer Park in Winter Haven. Tonight I did washing. Twenty-five cents for 25 minutes in the wringer-washer.

I took Inky for a walk and we watched fireworks in the distance at the fair.

Journal February 21, 1953
Off we went this morning to Cypress Gardens. The show was to start at 10 am. We found an excellent seat by the water – got all set – show about to start – Lesley had to go to the bathroom. I walked her back to the ladies room. I changed a dime so I would have nickel for the door. Finally got into the ladies room and Les announced she didn’t have to go anymore. So, out we came, washed our hands, tipped the girl. Spent 15 cents. 

The water show was good. There were quite a few spills as the water was choppy. After the show we walked around to where MGM studios were making a movie with Esther Williams, Van Johnson and Tony Martin. It was called, “Easy to Love.” Roland and Lesley disappeared (fortunately they found a nice spot so Les could see the show). Sandy and I stood on the outskirts of the crowd trying to get a peek at the movie scene. Later we rode through the gardens on their boats.

Cypress Garden show

Man on top of 2 other water-skiers

We drove home to the trailer for lunch then drove to Clearwater this afternoon. We found a trailer park in Largo that would take children (Largo Park). There was a fair across the street. It was late so we didn’t go but Les was disappointed.

Journal February 22, 1953
Spent the day fixing brakes, cooking and cleaning. Lesley played with the kids at the slide and see saws.