“Hey Margie, is our house scarey looking?” I brought this up as my older sister and I walked to Daley’s Grocery Store – an almost daily event, no pun intended. “I don’t know. Why?” “Because Janice Whartmore said ours is the scariest house on the block.” Margie was quiet for a while. “You just tell Janice Whartmore that you’d rather have a scarey house than a scarey and mean brother.”
Whartmore’s were our closest next door neighbors with kids. Janice was right between Margie and me in age; she had only one younger sister and one older brother. They always seemed kind of stuck-up to us, those Whartmore’s, but that didn’t matter too much when it came to getting a game of four-square, jump rope or dodge ball going. Ballard, a northern Seattle neighborhood, was a pretty nice place to grow up in the 1950’s, with games of ball, and hide-and-seek and even impromptu home-made parades being the norm. Still, that remark about our house made me uneasy. We did have the biggest house and yard on the block, and we had the biggest family to go with it. The final count for kids in our family would be ten. I was the seventh born – the fifth girl. So it seemed fine to me that we had a big house, but what was scarey about it?
After we got home from the grocery store with the milk and bread (we were always running out of these things, even though the milk man and the bread man came to our house twice a week), I would go across the street, sit on the Anderson’s steps and get a good look at my house to see if Janice Whartmore was lying or telling the truth. And then I would march right next door to ask Janice what she was scared of. I’d go, that is, if her mean older brother wasn’t around.