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Making Foam in Bly, Oregon

Story ID:10344
Written by:Charles Dishno (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Family Memories
Location:Bly Oregon USA
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OurEcho Preface This post deals with a mature theme or contains explicit language. While the post is not extremely violent or pornographic, it does contain language or explore a subject matter that may offend some readers. If you do not wish to view posts that deal with mature themes, please exit this post.
This is a rather long story but it needed a set up to get to the reason for the title…

Making Foam in Bly, Oregon…
By Chuck Dishno

The first 6 years of my life were living in a home that was 3 tarpaper shacks butted together at right angles. These left a lot to be desired since they had no indoor plumbing, just a cold water tap that ran into the kitchen. This supplied water to the kitchen in order for my Mom to fill the tank on the side of the wood cook stove. Very primitive conditions but we were happy. The Great Depression had ended and my Pop had a good job falling timber. Things were looking up or so we thought.

The bad news…
This all changed on a Saturday in mid-July when a woodshed on the adjacent lot exploded and burst into flame. It happened so fast that in a few minutes our three shacks and another vacant house were totally engulfed in flame. Within 20 minutes there was nothing left except a pile of smoking rubble. We had lost virtually everything, clothing, bedding, household items, all gone in seconds. A few hardy men ran in and pulled out a chest of drawers a few blankets and pillows. I even ran in to rescue my cat, Big Kitty, but was saved by a large man who grabbed me by my bib overalls and carried me out. In my hand I had clutched a Pinocchio hand puppet. The only thing I saved.

The good news…
Living in a small town like Bly, Oregon had its perks. Our house was just a few doors from the Bly School and no sooner had the flames died down, George Elliot, the school principal came over and told my parents that we could move into the school home-ec room. That evening while the old place was still smoldering, Mom cooked us a good meal with food donated by the only grocery store in town and we bedded down on school cots with donated bedding.

The next morning, Sunday, we attended the Methodist church that was located between our house and the school. There we saw the love and caring of our small community. That afternoon, men began to show up with rakes and shovels to clear the ground for a new house. Each evening when they came home from a hard day’s work, either in the woods or at the sawmill they showed up in droves. By the next weekend, the ground was ready to start building our new house. Harold Crane, the owner of the lumber company that Pop worked for, sent over plans for a new house along with several truck loads of lumber- enough to finish the job. Those diligent men pitched right in and showed they knew what they were doing. Soon the pipes were laid, the septic tank was dug and the house began to take shape. Protsman’s, the only variety store in town along with the Shell gas station held a “Dishno Relief” fire sale with all proceeds going to restock our dishes, furniture, bedding, etc.

All through the remainder of July and August, we saw our new house take shape. About a week before school started it was complete and what a house it was! It was a lap sided house painted a bright white with three bedrooms, kitchen with and electric range (Mom insisted we also keep the wood cook stove), dining room, living room, and complete bathroom with toilet, tub and shower. I believe this was a first for Pop, and he still didn’t completely trust the toilet so he insisted on keeping the old small three-hole edifice out the back door and down the path. I think Pop sad it best when he said, “I’m not too sure of anything that gurgles and snorts whenever you pull a handle.” The total cost to us was $500.00. What a town!

Moving in…
About 3 days before school started we moved into our new house. It was the first time for me to enjoy the convenience of indoor plumbing – no more chamber pots under the bed and cold trips to the outhouse. Hot and cold running water –no more taking turns to bathe in a #3 tub. What a luxury
As I mentioned this was a three bedroom house, Mom and Pop had the first bedroom, Grandma Etta, the middle one and my two half brothers, Shad and Bud, shared the third one. This relegated me to a studio couch located against one wall of the dining room. That was just fine with me as I could keep tabs on what all was going on. It was either that or I would have to share a bed with Etta and she was prone to having nightmares.

Mom and Pop would usually play a couple of card games then head for bed around 8:30 pm. Etta would be snoring by 8 and Bud would be back in his room studying or practicing his Charles Atlas exercises. Shad was the wayward one and usually didn’t come home until 9 or 10. I would lie awake reading or listening to the radio and wait for Shad to make his appearance.

Shad was my hero and as soon as he came in he would greet me then head for the bathroom to get rid of some beer pressure, and what pressure it was! I would stand at the bathroom door and marvel at how much foam he could make. He would laugh and say it took the right “equipment” and lots of beer. He would pat me on the back and say, "Don’t worry little brother, someday you will be able to make your own foam.” Oh how I looked forward to that day.

I loved my family and we all had a great time in our new house. WWII had started and after Shad graduated from high school he enlisted in the Army Air Force. Bud graduated the following year and also enlisted in the Air Force. It was sad to see them off and I was afraid I would never see them again. Now it was just Mom, Pop, Etta and me. I inhered the third bedroom but my how I missed those nightly “beer foam” lessons.

There are many small things that stick out in my mind and that first year in my new house is just one of them. Even though I never achieved my goal of making foam, like brother Shad, I am happy to say that both brothers returned home safely from the War, but nothing was ever the same since they both had wives.

Big Kitty did survive the fire and you may want to read about her…Story # 6878 “Big Kitty and the Cowboy. “