Back in 1959 my parents, sister and I arrived in the Puyallup Valley in an old dump truck overflowing with our possessions. We looked like the Beverly Hillbillies, but we felt more like direct decedents of Ezra Meeker. We were moving to Puyallup, the land of opportunity.
We landed in an area known as Firwood just north of the Puyallup River. The home we were moving into had a history I always found fascinating.
Two Puyallup Valley brothers were well known as independent home building craftsmen. Joe Vandersheldon built our Puyallup Valley – Firwood home.
For years it had been Joe Vandersheldon’s home. There was a giant chicken barn on the back. When there was money in chickens, Joe & his wife put their son through dental school. Even though dental school tuition was not considered chicken feed Joe’s chicken money was enough to educate his son.
I might have gone to dental school too, but the bottom dropped out of the chicken market. My parents only had 12 chickens which did not produce enough chicken money for me even to attend one of those correspondence art schools advertised on matchbook covers.
Coincidently, in 1948 the other Vandersheldon, Joe’s brother, Paul, built my future wife’s family home.
If a framing piece called for six nails, the Vandersheldon brothers used 12. They always used full dimension lumber some of which was custom cut from the property building site. Their concrete was glossy smooth and never cracked; ever.
The land where our new home sat was flooded in the 1930s when the Puyallup crested its banks.
After the Army Corps of Engineers built levee dikes on the banks of the Puyallup River, the roads on each side of the river were named River Road and Levee Road.
The flooding in the 1930s caused a thick layer of rich and fertile valley river soil to be deposited all over the Puyallup Valley including my parents home site.
The soil deposited by the flood was dark, rich and beautiful. To demonstrate how fertile the Puyallup Valley soil was our mother tossed some seeds out my second story bedroom window. The next morning we could not see out my window because of the tall bean stalks that had grown overnight just like in the Jack in the Beanstalk story. The valley soil was that rich.
There were two disadvantages to the valley soil. One, there were no rocks on our one acre like you would expect in a typical yard. In fact, years later my dad called me at my Lakewood home to complain that when he tried to chase a stray dog out of his chicken pen there were no stones to be found.
My yard in Lakewood was nothing but rocks. So as a Father’s Day gift, I gave Dad a box of rocks.
The second disadvantage relates to the first disadvantage. Because there were no rocks, the moles loved my parent’s yard. There were moles everywhere. Mounds of dirt appeared overnight in their lawn. The mole holes were real ankle breakers.
When I moved to Lakewood, the moles hated our Lakewood yard because they kept banging their heads on all the rocks from the glacial till deposits. Any mole wandering into my yard made a hasty B-line back to Puyallup.
For the 49 years we have lived in Lakewood, I have never seen a single mole.
Last week when I visited our Lakewood Library I could not believe my eyes. I must have seen a dozen moles. The moles were not in the lawn but rather in the library basement. The moles were working like beavers.
I am serious when I tell you I saw moles in Lakewood. I will tell you more in my next article titled Moles In Lakewood Part II.
I could tell you about the Lakewood moles right now, but I am already over 700 words for this article, which is a lot for a reader when the writer is telling mole stories.
You might ask, where is Joe going with this mole story. Will he be able to dig his way out? Will he tunnel back to Lakewood?
Stay tuned. Next up, Moles In Lakewood Part II.