In the Beginning: 1947-1950
“If we have never been amazed by the very fact that we exist, we are squandering the greatest fact of all.” Will Durant
Part of the wonder years is the amazing odds that we exist at all, not just ‘we’ but me in particular. I was born at 9:05 AM on Saturday, June 28th, 1947, a singular event to be sure. The probability that my father and mother could contribute to just me is about 1 in 400 quadrillion, and that is just my parents. Going back to the beginning of humanoid history, each one of the previous 150,000 generations over the past 3 million years would have had to reproduce successfully to result in me. The odds? 1 in 1045,000.
Of course, I do not remember being born or much of the first several years. My parents were Kenneth Lester Garrett and Marian Elizabeth Kreie who married September 4, 1939. I have an older brother Kenneth L (MIO) Garrett who is about 4-1/2 years older than I am. See Appendix 1: Family History Sheet.
I am not sure how welcomed into the household I was as my father was pulled away from inventory night at his Lorimor grocery store, and my brother had probably gotten used to being an only child. I was born at Methodist Hospital in Des Moines, Polk Co., Iowa. The hospital is about 60 miles from Lorimor, Iowa where the rest of my family lived. I have no idea why my mother was not delivered at Winterset, Iowa that is about 20 miles closer and has a hospital (Madison County Memorial Hospital) where my mother had worked previously. She was not delivered by the family physician, but by an obstetrician Dr. Parker Hughes. I could imagine that the Winterset hospital did not have an obstetrician at the time. See Appendix 2: Lorimor, Pleasantville and Colfax, Iowa.
I was named Craig Roger Garrett; the name appears to be just a personal preference of my parents and not related to friends or family of my parents. My paternal great grandfather was Charles Robert Garrett, but I am not aware of any association between his name and mine except for the initials.
The following is the diary entry by my maternal grandmother Lorena Floye Beard Garrett for June 28th, 1947:
Hot. Cleaned house in morning. Was just ready to take a shower when Kenneth came. Our precious little Craig Roger was born at Methodist hospital at 9:30 AM. K. rested a minute then went on home.
I went to club at ? in afternoon. In the evening we drove down to see Marian and the baby. He doesn’t look anything like Kenny did. Marian was fine. Wendell Kirkland and Beatrice Luella Patterson were married in Chicago.
I suppose that I could take umbrage at the sparse mention of my birth by my grandmother, but that was just the way she wrote of daily events in her diary. I wonder if I looked more handsome than my brother or the other way around.
The following newspaper clipping was probably from the Winterset Madisonian:
Dr. and Mrs. H. U. Garrett went to Des Moines Sunday evening to see their daughter-in-law, Mrs. Kenneth Garrett and to get a peek at their new grandson, who, (according to Mrs. Garrett), was the “best looking baby in the nursary (sic).”
It is possible that I could have been the only baby in the nursery or that the nursery could have been populated with ugly babies. I should probably take the remark as a compliment and let it go.
I was baptized on June 9th, 1948 at St. Paul’s Church in Creston, Iowa. The sponsors were Donald Janasak (maternal uncle), Doyle Garrett (paternal uncle), and Janet Fiebke (adult maternal cousin). The certification says that am an “Inheritor of the Kingdom of Heaven”, but as I understand it I could only inherit if God dies. I do not think that is going to happen.
My brother was told that my mother was pregnant with me and to keep it secret. He went outside shortly thereafter and promptly told a neighbor that his mother was going to have a baby. It is not clear why Kenny should have kept my mother’s pregnancy a secret.
My parents bought Kenny a scooter at the time of my birth. My brother described the scooter as having roller skate wheels, a metal platform and a steering tube with handles attached to the front wheels. It was different from the trike shown below. This, however, does remind me that Kendra and I bought Evan a “Big Wheel” plastic trike at the time of his sister Laurel’s birth probably for the same reason.
My earliest memory of the home in Lorimor is the staircase that went upstairs from the living room and then down into the kitchen. I also recall looking out of the front windows. Sometime during the first few years, I was pushed through a window by my brother and have a scar on my right little finger to document it. The only other thing to mention about this house is that it was my mother’s favorite house of all the houses she and my father occupied through their forty-two years of marriage.
My parents were friends with Bertha and Ralph Saxton who lived several houses west of our home. Ralph had a Mercury dealership in Lorimor and was a farmer. I liked their house for the fishpond located to the side of the house and the piano in the living room of their home. I was a very good piano player at the time, meaning that I could not keep my hands off the keys.
Other friends within a few houses were William and Lillian Means. They had built a new house about 1949, and I was fascinated that the front door had no front steps but just the drop-off from the doorstep to the ground. I suppose I saw the difficulty of my trying to get into their house, and perhaps the Means saw it as an advantage.
Another couple who were friends of my parents were Goldie and Raymond Fletcher. Goldie worked at my father’s store. I remember going to the Fletcher’s home on the edge of Lorimor. There were chickens in the back yard. Raymond caught a chicken, stepped on its head, and pulled. The chicken literally ‘lost its head’ and ran around the yard for awhile until it finally fell over dead. I have no idea what happened next.
I recall meeting with Goldie many years later after my mother died in 1996. She had remarried, but again widowed, and was living in Winterset.
While we still lived in Lorimor, I had my tonsils removed by Dr. Paul Chestnut at his upstairs office in Winterset, Iowa. I seem to recall the ether mask being lowered over my face. I struggled but to no avail. Dr. Chestnut was the family physician and my mother wrote that he was a wonderful doctor.