Dick Disappears. Again.

Something happened during the summer of 1958. I don't know what it was. I don't recall a fight between Dick and Gen, but one morning after Gen left for work, Dick packed up the station wagon with camping and fishing gear. Susie seemed to know what was going on. She was memorizing the numbers on the car's license plate and she told me Dick was leaving without us. I remember watching him pack, and then he was gone. I don't remember any tearful farewell or a hug, or any exchange of words. He simply drove away.

That evening when Gen got home from work (I don't know exactly how she got there, since we had only one car; I guess she copped a ride from one of the engineers), Susie told her what happened. In a stroke of genius, Gen had the car titled in Colorado under her name only. I guess she learned something from that time in Kansas when Dick took off with it and returned it with a ravaged engine. Gen called the cops and reported her car stolen.

Gen couldn't afford the bungalow without Dick's unemployment compensation and we moved within a couple of weeks to one of the coolest places a kid could hope to live. Gen put an ad in the paper, announcing that she was a single mother with three children who was looking for an inexpensive dwelling in Littleton. Mrs. Elliott responded, saying she didn't know why she was doing this and figured she'd probably regret it, but here was the deal:

Mrs. Elliott, an aging and crabby woman with blue hair and heart trouble, her husband, and her teenaged son (Wayne) and daughter (Billie) lived on several dozen acres located on a bluff between Santa Fe Boulevard and South Rio Grand, next to the D&RG railroad tracks to the east and overlooking the Platte River and the Rocky Mountains to the west. On the north side, the property had quarters for migrant workers who many years before had worked the extensive orchard between the workers' quarters and the Elliott's house. The orchard was no longer viable, but the little houses were still maintained and rented out.

The south end of the property held Mr. Elliott's huge garden and its own orchard, all of which were criss-crossed with irrigation ditches. In the center of the property were the Elliott's big house, a chicken coop and yard, a stable and corral for Bobbie's horse, various sheds, a huge tree with a treehouse in it, and a large garage. Over the garage was a one-bedroom apartment. Mrs. Elliott offered the apartment ot Gen, but said it needed paint and repairs and wouldn't be habitable for a couple of weeks. Nevertheless, Mrs. Elliott's house had a full basement, where she offered to let us live while Mr. Elliott and Wayne fixed up the apartment. (This is the place we were living when Becky fell off the porch.)